Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012 [note that this has been moved back by about two months].
Orange-breasted Falcon Falco deiroleucus is a resident of tropical and subtropical forests in southern Mexico, Central America and much of South America. It is currently listed as Least Concern, as it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is so far not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).
A detailed study by Berry et al. (2010) highlights the overall population decline and range contraction observed in this species and cites a number of threats that are likely to be impacting it. Habitat loss and fragmentation driven by forest clearance for crops, livestock farming and orchards, are probably the main threats to this species. Infrastructure developments also have harmful effects, such as hydroelectric dams that lead to habitat loss, increased disturbance and the risk of collisions and electrocution from power-lines. Habitat fragmentation and human settlement of new areas also leads to local increases in the numbers of Black Vultures Coragyps atratus, which are important nest predators and competitors, and direct persecution of F. deiroleucus by humans has been recorded. Africanised Bees are also cited as a potential threat (Berry et al. 2010).
Estimating the rate of decline in widespread species is always challenging, but further information and data are nevertheless required in order to assess this species’s threat status. If evidence suggests that the overall rate of decline is approaching 30% (typically 20-29%) over three generations, estimated by BirdLife to be c.18 years, the species would probably qualify for uplisting to Near Threatened. Evidence of a decline of at least 30% over 18 years would probably make the species eligible for uplisting to Vulnerable. Information and comments on this species are invited.
Berry, R. B., Benkman, C. W., Muela, A., Seminario, Y. and Curti, M. (2010) Isolation and decline of a population of the Orange-breasted Falcon. Condor 112: 479-489.