During 2015 and 2016, we conducted the first systematic study of the size of the breeding population, distribution, habitat and diet of the Barbary Falcon Falco peregrinus pelegrinoides on La Palma, Canary Islands. We found a minimum of 28 territories (3.9 territories/100 km2) at an average distance of 3.6 km (range 1.7–7.7 km) from their nearest neighbours. The territories were distributed throughout the island, but there were more in the northern half, probably due to a greater availability of large cliffs. Falcons selected high cliffs situated in scrub-covered areas close to the coast with relatively high levels of human infrastructures. However, this picture could be biased due to the inherent difficulties in surveying the rugged innermost parts of the island, where some territories may not have been detected. The nine monitored nests were situated in natural cavities or ledges at heights ranging from 35 to 110 m above ground level. Egg-laying probably takes place in late March, later than in the rest of the Canarian archipelago, perhaps due to the rainier climate of this island. On average, almost two chicks fledged per nest, a similar rate to nearby populations. Diet was composed of at least seven bird species, with Columba livia being the most frequently hunted and the most important prey item (93.9% of diet biomass). As falcons prey upon domestic racing pigeons (a popular activity on the island), direct persecution could be one of the main threats for the Barbary falcons on La Palma. There is a widespread but false idea that these raptors are not native, and that their presence is due to deliberate releases of foreign falcons by local government bodies. Thus, a human-wildlife conflict has arisen with pigeon fanciers whose solution requires more reliable information on the scale of the predation on pigeons and an environmental education campaign.
Situación y problemática de las poblaciones de rapaces en el P.N. de Timanfaya
Asistencia técnica cofinanciada por la Dirección General de Protección de la Naturaleza del Gobierno de Canarias y el Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER, UE).
Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) on the Canary Islands are considered to be of the Barbary Falcon subspecies (F. p. pelegrinoides). Here we report on lost falconry birds present among the wild population of resident falcons, and provide rough approximations of their abundance for Tenerife, the largest island of the Canaries. We observed lost falconry birds breeding with natural wild falcons, with at least one mixed pair producing fledglings. Only 54.1% of the breeding adults that we studied on the island showed typical Barbary Falcon plumage. Some nest sites were systematically poached, affecting the overall productivity of the population. Our findings suggest that the original Canarian Barbary Falcon population could be suffering from genetic mixing due to the presence of individuals originating from outside the population and from illegal harvest of nestlings. We recommend that local authorities continue to assess the degree of genetic admixture that occurs in this population, modify the current falconry regulations, implement management actions to prevent new escapes, eradicate exotic raptors, and put a stop to illegal nestling harvests.