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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote® Aplomado Falcon – Species Recovery in the Works

Air Date: Week of

Aplomado Falcon. (Photo: © Patricia Bruno)

Aplomado Falcons were once widespread residents of the American Southwest, but by the 1950s, they disappeared entirely from the region. But a group began captive breeding the birds and now the species is thriving. BirdNote®’s Mary McCann has more.



GELLERMAN: In many parts of the world, birds are under threat. But sometimes, human intervention can set a species back on track. Mary McCann has our BirdNote®.


MCCANN: The sun rising over a South Texas grassland finds a flock of sparrows, like these Cassin’s Sparrows we’re hearing, perching atop a mesquite bush. They’re awaiting the sun’s first warming rays.

Aplomado Falcon (Photo: © Elaine R. Wilson)


MCCANN: Suddenly the sparrows flee, as a dark bird of prey races toward them - flying just above the ground at break-neck speed. This time, the sparrows escape, and their pursuer, an Aplomado Falcon, alights to survey the landscape.


MCCANN: It’s a truly handsome bird, its plumage a bold pattern of black, white, and rust.


MCCANN: Aplomado Falcons were once widespread residents of the American Southwest, but by the 1950s, they’d disappeared entirely from the region. Loss of habitat, loss of prey, and pesticides all played a role. But in the 1980s, a group called The Peregrine Fund began breeding captive Aplomado Falcons.

Over the next 25 years, 1,500 fledglings were set free in South Texas. At the same time, conservation pacts with private landowners provided more than two million acres of habitat. While work remains to ensure the bird’s recovery, the handsome Aplomado Falcon appears to have regained a solid foothold in the American Southwest.


GELLERMAN: That’s Mary McCann of BirdNote®. To see some photos of the Aplomado Falcon, swoop on down to our website loe.org.



BirdNote® Aplomado Falcon – Species Recovery in the Works was written by Bob Sundstrom.

Sounds of Cassin’s Sparrow and ambient Texas grassland provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, recorded by G.A. Keller. Single Aplomado Falcon recorded by Alvaro Riccetto, the trio by Andrew Spencer, both for Xeno-Canto.


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