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Photo credit: Greg the Busker, Flickr

Northern aplomado falcon (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) | ESA status: endangered, experimental non-essential

Northern aplomado falcon

The nothern aplomado falcon is endangered in the desert grasslands and savannahs of the American Southwest, though it is relatively common in Central and South America. The northern aplomado falcon is one of three subspecies of aplomado falcon and is the only subspecies recorded in the United States.

Northern aplomado falcon habitat

Aplomado falcon habitat varies throughout its range, including palm and oak savannahs, desert and coastal grasslands, and open pine woodlands. In all of these habitats, the falcons need open terrain with scattered trees, relatively low ground cover, an abundance of insects and small to medium-sized birds, and a supply of nest sites.

In the United States, the aplomado falcon historically inhabited varied regions in south Texas and the dry grasslands from Trans-Pecos Texas through southeastern Arizona. But by the mid-1900s, the aplomado falcon was absent from most of its range in the United States.

What are the threats to the northern aplomado falcon?

Causes for decline include widespread shrub encroachment resulting from fire suppression and intense overgrazing; agricultural development in grassland habitats; and pesticide exposure, in particular DDT and dieldrin. Hindering recovery of the species are factors including long-term drought, continuing shrub encroachment, and predation by great-horned owls. In addition, the falcon’s prey base (mainly smaller grassland birds) is in decline due to overgrazing, drought, and conversion of grassland habitats to agriculture.

What WildEarth Guardians is doing to preserve the northern aplomado falcon

We fought efforts to strip Endangered Species Act protections from reintroduced populations of aplomado falcons in New Mexico and West Texas, and we continue to work to protect the birds’ habitat from oil and gas development and livestock grazing.