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Endangered Aplomado Chicks Banded at Mustang Island


On June 1, researchers put leg bands on fuzzy Aplomado falcon chicks at Mustang Island State Park, where a pair of adult falcons occupy one of 67 artificial nest structures maintained along the Texas coast. A few days later, on June 5, scientists banded the 500th Aplomado falcon in Texas. It’s all part of ongoing monitoring to maintain the success of a wildlife restoration effort begun decades ago.

The nonprofit Peregrine Fund, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the Mustang Island project in 2012. Controlled burning and other work to restore native coastal prairie have been essential to the reintroduction.

The Mustang Island project is part of broader restoration work in Texas, in which 997 birds were released into the wild at 27 Texas sites, including many private ranches, from 1993 to 2013. This year researchers observed approximately 65 Aplomado falcons along the Texas coast, down from the 100 observed the year before because of losses from Hurricane Harvey, but still dozens more than before restoration work began.

Aplomado falcons are some of the world’s fastest and most agile fliers. Aplomado is a Spanish word for dark gray, the color of the bird’s back. The northern Aplomado falcon (Falco femoralis) was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1986, primarily because of loss of the grassland prairie habitat where they hunt.

Photo by TPWD

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