Taita Falcon

Taita Falcon. Photo Ron Hartly. http://www.iol.co.za/news/science/meet-sa-s-rarest-bird-1.722643?showComments=true

by Gunnar on November 7, 2010 · 2 comments

in Birding News

Meet South Africa’s rarest bird – The Taita Falcon

Africa’s Taita Falcon is so rare, that are very few photos available on the internet. A search on Flickr drew a complete blank. Here is a fascinating story of South Africa’s rarest bird…..

Few people have heard of South Africa’s rarest bird – and even fewer have seen one. But Andre Botha hopes the tiny and enigmatic Taita falcon will continue to hunt from the skies of the Lowveld, despite its critically low numbers.

“I often ask birders what is South Africa’s rarest bird and they mention the wattled crane and the blue swallow,” explains Botha, the manager of the Birds of Prey Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Few people know of the Taita falcon because it’s so rare, but there’s a lot more reason to worry about this bird species than some others.”
There are just 25 birds in South Africa “if we’re lucky”, says Botha, who has spent years monitoring the fragmented populations of the little-known species – and searching for more.

We know so little about this species. The birds were first discovered in South Africa about 18 years ago. They live on these massively huge cliffs and they’re so tiny, it’s easy to miss them. They’re fast flyers that hunt on the wing. People just didn’t see them for what they were.
Next month, Botha’s team embark on their annual survey, scouring cliff faces along the escarpment in Mpumalanga and Limpopo and even flying in with helicopters, if necessary, to spot nesting sites.

Photo credits: Ron Hartley picture occuring on the original article.

The team will head to the known sites and look at a few spots where we think there is potential we might find more. But in essence, from what we know and what we’ve seen, 25 is probably a realistic assessment of how many birds there are… It’s never been an abundant species and we’ve cottoned on to it late.Historically, the species occurred in greater numbers along the Rift Valley.The South African population now seems to be the healthiest. Everywhere else where they occur are scattered, broken little populations throughout Africa, but in low numbers. Continue reading the origina article on iol-news….

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