Grey Falcon Research 

Overview

The Grey Falcon Falco hypoleucos is an elusive species endemic to Australia, and is considered to be among the five rarest species of Falco of the world. Its population has been estimated to consist of less than 1000 individuals, distributed sparsely over much of Australia’s arid and semi-arid zone, an area of about 5 million km2. Breeding is restricted to areas within the hottest climate classes. Despite being confined to a harsh environment, Grey Falcons specialize throughout their lives almost exclusively on birds. These circumstances, unique among members of the genus Falco, are expected to be reflected in the species’ breeding ecology, movements and also in behavioural, morphological, anatomical, and physiological characteristics.

 

Understanding how these birds persist in an environment characterized by extreme and unpredictable climatic events is key to identifying threatening processes and suggesting conservation measures. The Grey Falcon is currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN Red List.

 

Dr. Jonny Schoenjahn, adjunct staff member of the Walter-Furlong Laboratory, is conducting an Australia-wide long-term study (since 2004) on the Grey Falcon, investigating key aspects of the species’ ecology, encompassing its spatio-temporal distribution, diet and hunting, reproduction, long- and short-term movements, juvenile dependence, and behaviours that may aid thermoregulation during high heat loads. Further, DNA analyses will help estimating the species’ population size and assessing the genetic variation residing within the species.

This research depends much on observational information provided by the public. Please report Grey Falcons sightings and active nests directly to the researchers. This assures that the information is kept strictly confidential for the protection of this vulnerable species.

 

To report a sighting or wish to learn more about the Grey Falcon and this research, please follow the link to the project’s website.