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Seychelles Kestrel Falco araeus

Justification
This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a very small population and range and there have been recent declines in one subpopulation. It was far more widespread in the nineteenth century, with birds frequently seen on most islands. This range contraction may have resulted from widespread persecution in the past.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Falco araeus (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously listed as F. araea.

Synonym(s)
Falco araea

Identification
15-23 cm. Very small, rufous-and-buff falcon. Very dark rufous upperparts and even darker head, and uniform buffy, unstreaked underparts. Very agile in flight and imparts a long-tailed appearance. Immature similar to adult, but has streaked and spotted underparts and paler head. Similar spp. Much smaller than any potential vagrant falcons. Voice Sharp and rapid ki ki ki ki.

Distribution and population
Falco araeus is found on the granitic islands of the Seychelles, with a total of c.420-430 pairs in 2008, the majority on Mahé (plus a few on its satellite island, Watson 2000a, Pandolfi and Barilari 2009), 40-50 pairs on Silhouette, and a few pairs on Praslin and Ile du Nord. There are frequent records from La Digue but no recent evidence of breeding (N.J. Shah and S. Parr in litt. 1999, A. Skerrett in litt. 1999). At least one pair has also been heard on Félicité (Shah and Parr in prep.). Considerable development and habitat alteration have taken place on Mahé since 2002, suggesting that a population increase since then is unlikely, and that a decline could have occurred (N. Doak in litt. 2007). Genetic analysis suggests that the global population underwent a crash some time between 1940 and the early 1970s, and at one time numbered as few as eight (3.5-22) individuals, which is compatible with claims that there were fewer than 30 birds on Mahé during the 1960s (Groombridge et al. 2009).

Population justification
A combination of survey results and records (S. Parr in litt. 1999) can be used to deduce a total population of at least 800 individuals, roughly equivalent to 530 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Following surveys in 2002, the Mahé population was considered stable (Millett et al. 2003). Considerable development and habitat alteration have taken place on Mahé since 2002, suggesting that the population is unlikely to have increased since then, and may have decreased (N. Doak in litt. 2007). The Praslin population declined from around 20 pairs in the 1980s to just a few pairs in the 1990s, and four pairs in late 2002 (Rocamora 1997; Millett et al. 2003). Thus, overall the population is judged to have experienced a small decline over the last ten years.

Ecology
It inhabits native, evergreen, upland forests, but is now found in secondary rainforest and coconut plantations on Mahé. It hunts indigenous lizards (mainly geckos Phelsuma spp.) (G. Rocamora in litt. 2007), insects, small birds and mice (Watson 1981, Watson 1992). Nesting is predominantly on cliffs above 200 m, and less successfully - probably due to predation (Watson 1992) - at lower elevations on buildings, in holes in trees and in old Common Myna Acridotheres tristis nests (Loustau-Lalanne 1962). Small territories are occupied year-round, but only one brood is reared per year (Watson 2000a).

Threats
Reduced numbers in the 1960s and 1970s may have been due to pesticide use or to peaks in commercial cinnamon cultivation and logging, which reduced upland forest to its lowest extent at this time (N.J. Shah and S. Parr in litt. 1999). Introduced nest predators, nest-site competitors and food competitors may be an ongoing threat (Loustau-Lalanne 1962, Watson 1992, A. Skerrett in litt. 1999). Housing development could be a threat (Rocamora 1997a), although the species breeds in urban areas (N.J. Shah and S. Parr in litt. 1999). Fires, and possibly housing developments and alien predators, have nearly halved its population on Praslin in 10 years (S. Parr in litt. 1999, Millett et al. 2003).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. The Morne Seychellois National Park on Mahé covers almost 25% of the island and provides a safe refuge (N.J. Shah and S. Parr in litt. 1999). The species was reintroduced to Praslin in 1977 (Watson 1981). Nature Seychelles is presently introducing predator-proof nest boxes on Praslin and initiating awareness campaigns through the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles (Millett et al. 2003). Conservation Actions Proposed
Research factors influencing its density (N.J. Shah and S. Parr in litt. 1999) and population dynamics (Rocamora 1997a). Investigate the effect of urbanisation (Rocamora 1997a). Continue nest protection and awareness campaign on Praslin (Millett et al. 2003). Continue habitat protection on Mahé (Rocamora 1997a), possibly through extension of the Morne Seychellois National Park (G. Rocamora in litt. 1999). Control Barn Owls Tyto alba and rats around nesting sites on Praslin (Rocamora 1997a). Ensure no return to widespread pesticide use (N.J. Shah and S. Parr in litt. 1999). Assess translocation possibilities (R. Lucking in litt. 1999). Raise public awareness of the species's value, and the need to protect nest-sites in buildings; particularly on Praslin (Rocamora 1997a, N.J. Shah and S. Parr in litt. 1999, Millett et al. 2003). Resume long term monitoring (G. Rocamora in litt. 2007).

References
Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Groombridge, J. J.; Dawson, D. A.; Burke, T.; Prys-Jones, R.; Brooke, M. de L.; Shah, N. 2009. Evaluating the demographic history of the Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea: genetic evidence for recovery from a population bottleneck following minimal conservation management. Biological Conservation 142(10): 2250-2257.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.1). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 19 June 2012).

Loustau-Lalanne, P. 1962. Land birds of the granitic islands of the Seychelles. Government printer, Mahé:Seychelles.

Millett, J., Norris, K., Holloway, G.J., Digney, P., Schultz, D. and Wagner, L. 2003. Re-introduction of endemic birds in the Seychelles: a response - in reply. Re-introduction News 23: 15-17.

Pandolfi, M.; Barilari, M. 2008. Katiti: Myths unfurl. Zwazo 19: 24-25.

Rocamora, G. 1997. Rare and threatened species, sites and habitats monitoring programme in Seychelles: monitoring methodologies and recommended priority actions.

Shah, N.J.; Parr, S.J. in prep.. Rapid biodiversity assessment of Felicite, 19 May.

Watson, J. 1981. Population ecology, food and conservation of the Seychelles Kestrel (Falco araea) on Mahé. Dissertation. Ph.D., Aberdeen, UK:University of Aberdeen.

Watson, J. 1992. Nesting ecology of the Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea on Mahé, Seychelles. Ibis 134: 259-267.

Watson, J. 2000. Dispersion in the Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea. In: Chancellor, R.D.; Meyburg, B.-U. (ed.), Raptors at risk: proceedings of the V World Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls, Johannesburg, 4-11 August 1998, pp. 697-705. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls, Berlin.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Temple, H. & Warren, B.

Contributors
Doak, N., Lucking, R., Parr, S., Rocamora, G., Shah, N. & Skerrett, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Falco araeus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Falconidae (Falcons, Caracaras)
Species name author (Oberholser, 1917)
Population size 530 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 220 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species