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Karearea (female) - New Zealand falcon - Falco novaeseelandiae | by Steve Attwood
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Karearea (female) - New Zealand falcon - Falco novaeseelandiae

In this picture the female is checking out a fallen log lying along the ground. She seemed to be checking for a potential nest site.

The female of a pair of falcon that has taken up residence at Zealandia, Karori Sanctuary.

New Zealand's only endemic falcon and the only remaining bird of prey endemic to New Zealand. Other common names for the bird are Bush Hawk and Sparrow Hawk. A member of the Falconidae bird family, the New Zealand Falcon is mainly found in heavy bush and the steep high country in the South Island and is rarely seen north of a line through the central area of the North Island. A small population also breeds on the Auckland Islands. Although protected since 1970, it is considered to be a rare and vulnerable species. Heather and Robertson (Field Guiode to the Birds of New Zealand – Penguin) describe regional variation in the New Zealand falcon “ . . .three forms that differ in size colour and habitats: the ‘Bush Falcon’ of forests of the North Island and Northwestern South Island; the ‘Eastern Falcon’ of the open country of the eastern South Island; and the ‘Southern Falcon’ of coastal Fiordland, Stewart Island and the Auckland Islands”. From this I assume these birds are “bush falcons” and they certainly seem at home flying at high speed through the trees to flush their prey and capture it mid-air. An aggressive bird that displays great violence when defending its territory, the New Zealand Falcon has been reported to attack dogs as well as people.

With a wingspan of about 45 cm and weight rarely exceeding 450g. The male is about two thirds the size of the female.

The New Zealand Falcon nests in a scrape in grassy soil or humus in various locations: under a rock on a steep slope or on a rock ledge, among epiphytic plants on a tree branch, or under a log or branch on the ground, making chicks and eggs vulnerable to predators.

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Taken on July 20, 2011