The classic image of a falcon is of one in a full stoop diving at tremendous speed. Found more widely across the world than the any other bird, the Peregrine specialises at this method in catching birds out of the sky. Our pair have been very successful at rearing a number of chicks each year.
In Africa Lanner Falcons are a successful, widespread hunter of open areas. Birds, often caught near waterholes, make up the majority of their diet. There is also a very small, declining population in Mediterranean Europe.
The smallest bird of prey to be found at the centre (even smaller species of falcon live in South-East Asia). In 2014 weighing a little over 5g their first tiny chick hatched out. Like in the wild, our pair's diet includes lots of insects.
Greater (or White-eyed) Kestrel
A large Kestrel, chiefly found in the dry grasslands of southern Africa. They will typically hunt a wide variety of insects and beetles. Unlike the other falcons, whose eyes appear black, the Greater Kestrel has a pale iris.
A small, compact falcon that inhabits grassland, deserts and also into towns and cities. Their main prey are insects, but small birds and rodents can also be taken, either by hunting from a fence post or hovering into the wind. Although classed as least concern, their population has seen a steep decline in recent years due to habitat loss.
Although rather numerous, these smaller falcons are classified as NEAR THREATENED due to a worrying decline in populations. Hunting mainly insects in their disappearing Eurasian Steppe habitat. They migrate to southern Africa for the winter.
Born here at the centre ‘Rio’ displays the dynamic ambush hunting technique of small birds, used by these medium sized Central and South American Falcons. More northerly populations have largely disappeared despite reintroduction efforts.
Southern Crested Caracara
The first species to be bred at the Centre. Our current pair most years can be seen nesting and rearing their young in front of visitors. In the wild the population has benefitted from deforestation, as they prefer open countryside to search, often on foot, for a wide range of food items.
Found on the slopes and high plains of the Andes. The Mountain Caracara has a very crow-like approach to their ground based search for food. They are increasingly found in and around towns scavenging through rubbish in search of a meal.
Our current pair of Falkland Island ‘Johnny Rooks’ spent their immature years flying together here in the displays. Now adult, we hope they will start to breed in the near future. Although their population is today stable they are classed as NEAR THREATENED due to their very limited range.
The most common raptor in southern South America. Often to be seen in open country. In agricultural land they will happily follow cattle and ploughs on foot, sometimes in large groups.
Found in the north eastern half of South America. A wide variety of food is taken through scavenging and foraging, especially on the ground. In ranch land ticks are often picked off cattle. This species bred for the first time in the UK here at the centre.
This large, Endangered falcon is found typically in the grasslands of central Asia. The range does extend to small eastern Europe populations and in winter NE Africa. The diet is mostly made up of small mammals. Luke demonstrates how they will also hunt birds.