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Mauritian Kestrel
Crécerelle - Mangeur poule
Falco punctatus

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 Mauritius Kestrel - falco punctatus
Mauritian Kestrel - falco punctatus
 

 Description

Scientific Name

Falco punctatus

English Name

Mauritius Kestrel

French Name

Crécerelle

Creole Name

Kresserel

Habitat

Tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest, tropical scrub forest

Geographic Range

Mauritius

First Description

Newton & Newton 1876

Status

IUCN: Endangered
U.S. ESA: Endangered
CITES Appendix II

   

 Classification

Kingdom
Phylum
Sub phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
Species

Animalia
Chordata
Vertebrata
Aves
Falconiformes
Falconidae
Falco
Falco punctatus

 

Geographic Range

Indian Ocean: Falco punctatus , also known as the Mauritius Kestrel, are unique to the island of Mauritius. They have also been found in the neighboring Mascarene Islands.

Physical Characteristics

Mass: 200 to 250 g.

F. punctatus are small brown falcons with short wings and long tails. Mauritius Kestrels have black eyes and tapered wings, with patches of different shades of brown. The underside plumage is predominantly white interrupted with occasional dark-brown speckles. Their talons are small and delicate. This species of kestrel is more sexually dimorphic in size than other kestrels. (Temple, 1987)

Food Habits

Their diet primarily consists of arboreal geckos that are captured through a specialized hunting behavior known as "sun-oriented attacks". This predator also eats small birds, small rodents and insectivores, and various insects. The types of prey consumed by each sex may differ. (Temple, 1987)

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Reproduction

Mauritius Kestrels are monogamous during the breeding cycle. They nest in forest trees, but recently nestboxes have been introduced. The clutch size averages four to five eggs. The eggs are speckled brown oval-shaped eggs. The incubation period is 28 to 35 days, and the young are cared for in the nest for as long as 35 days. Clutches are usually laid during the months of November and December. (Village, 1990)

Behavior

F. punctatus are a relatively sedentary and solitary creature. Upon their release from captivity, 89% of banded birds found nesting were less than 5 km from their release or fledgling site. (Jones, 1995)

Their ability to adapt feeding and nesting habits to local conditions have helped in their population resurgence.

Habitat

Mauritius Kestrels originally were found in the tropical forests of the Black River Gorges but, with rapid habitat depletion, they have been introduced to and have adapted to the rocky forests and adjacent scrubby areas of the Bambous Mountains and on Moka Mountain. (Collar, 1994)

Biomes: tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest, tropical scrub forest

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Conservation

Status:

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • U.S. ESA: Endangered

At one point in the 1970's, the Mauritius Kestrels were the most endangered bird of prey in the world with a reported four surviving birds in the wild. It is still the rarest falcon in the world. They were officially declared an endangered species in 1973.

Since then, an intense conservation and captive breeding program was created by the Wildlife Preservation Trust in collaboration with the Mauritius government. This program consists of feeding of wild birds, providing nestboxes, multiple clutching, egg pulling, artificial incubation, hand rearing and release of captive-bred and captive-reared birds by hacking, fostering, and predator control.

These captive-bred birds have been successfully introduced to non-native habitats. Due to its outstanding successes, the release program ended in 1994, but conservationists have been consistently monitoring this area in hopes to reach the carrying capacity of the island, estimated to be 500-600 kestrels. (Jones, 1994)

The main problems that this species have dealt with, and are still dealing with, is habitat destruction and unregulated use of pesticides in the 1950's and 1960's. Due to deforestation beginning since 1756 under colonial French control only 3% of this island has indigenous tropical forest. This is the native habitat of the kestrels. The other problem has been the unregulated use of pesticides known as organochlorines for malaria control and in food crop production. With the addition of these pesticides to the ecosystem, they poisoned the natural food supply of the Mauritius Kestrel. (Safford, 1997)

Other Comments

Mauritius falscons are an important part of the food chain because they are both predators and prey on this small island. Their main predators include black rats (Rattus rattus), mongooses (Herpestes auropuncatatus), feral cats (Felis catus) and monkeys (Macaca fascicularis), all of which are introduced species on Mauritius.

Perhaps this species and its unique success story will instill hope and inspire other governments and organizations to support programs that save endangered species. In turn, they will be supporting the biodiversity of the world.

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. .
.

Endemic Birds

Echo Parakeet

 

The Captive Breeding Program

Kestrel
Pink Pigeon
Mauritius Fody
Paradise Flycatcher
Cuckoo Shrike
Grey White-Eye
Olive White-eye
Black Bulbul

Rodrigues Warbler
Yellow Fody

   
. .
.

Sites

 

Macchabee-Bel Ombre Nature Reserve
Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary
Domaine des Chasseurs

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. .
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References

 

Cade, T.J. and C.G. Jones. 1993. Progress in the restoration of the Mauritius Kestrel. Conservation Biology 7(1):169-175.

Carter, J. and M.H. Jones. 1999. Habitat composition of Mauritius Kestrel home ranges. Journal of Field Ornithology 70(2):230-235.

Groombridge, J.J, Jones, C.G, Bayes, M.K., van Zyl, A.J., Carrillo, J., Nichols, R.A. & Bruford, M.W. (2002). A molecular phylogeny of African kestrels with reference to divergence across the Indian Ocean. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 25, 267-277.

Nichols, R.A., Bruford, M.W. & Groombridge, J.J. 2001. Sustaining genetic variation in a small population: evidence from the Mauritius kestrel. Molecular Ecology 10, 593-602.

Groombridge, J.J., Bruford, M.W., Jones, C.G. & Nichols, R.A. 2001. Estimating the severity of the population bottleneck in the Mauritius kestrel Falco punctatus from ringing records using MCMC estimation. Journal of Animal Ecology 70, 401-409.

Groombridge, J.J., Jones, C.G., Bruford, M.W. & Nichols, R.A. 2000. ‘Ghost’ alleles of the Mauritius kestrel. Nature 403, 616. Jones,

C.G., Groombridge, J.J. & Nicoll, M. A. 2000. The genetic and population history of the Mauritius kestrel Falco punctatus. In: Raptors 2000; Proceedings of The World Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls. Eilat, Israel 2-4 April 2000.

Jones, C.G., W. Heck, R.E. Lewis, Y. Mungroo, G. Slade, etc. 1995. The restoration of the Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) population. Ibis 137(Suppl.1):S173-S180.

Safford, R.J. and C.G. Jones. 1997. Did organochlorine pesticide use cause declines in Mauritian forest birds?. Biodiversity and Conservation 6(10):1445-1451.

Temple, S.A. 1987. Foraging ecology of the Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus). Biotropica 19(1):2-6.

Village, Andrew. 1990. The Kestrel. T & AD Poyser, London.

   

Links

The Mauritius Wildlife Foundation
Wildlife Preservation Trust Canada
The Wild Ones Animal Index: Mauritius Kestrel
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Endangered Species
The Peregrine Fund
Collar , N. J., M. J. Crosby and A. J. Stattersfield. 1994. - Bird Life International: Birds to Watch 2


Mauritian Kestrel Stamp - SG 560 (1978) - Falco punctatus

Mauritian Kestrel Stamps

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