Helping preserve our native wildlife

Scientific Field Study

NZFM contributed to the NZ Falcon study undertaken by Dr Richard Seaton. The NZ Falcon study is particularly interesting to the forestry industry as it has been found that the falcon preferably inhabits forest clear-cut areas.

Mr Seaton visited Lake Taupo Forest and surveyed recently clearfelled areas within the forest to establish if any birds were nesting in the area. The results of the research will help NZFM to manage the forests to best protect NZ Falcons where they are present within the forest in the future.


How to identify a NZ Falcon (Karearea)

Key points for distinguishing between a NZ Falcon and an Australasian Harrier are listed below.

Australasian Harrier

Black-backed gull size

Visual Description

The falcon is smaller: Dark and fast. Black above – buff barred and streaked below. Brown eyes. Long toes (talons).

The Harrier is larger: Juvenile dark brown. Gets paler with age. Light rump, streaked light brown to pale/grey silver. Yellow eyes and long legs.

Flight Charateristics

Falcons fly fast – displays a rapid wing beat.

Harrier slower flight characteristic often flap-glide-flap appearance.

Soaring Traits

Falcon position wings flat for short time

Harriers have wings held in shallow ‘ v ’ for lengthy periods.

Hunting Habbits

Falcons are very fast – stoops. Chases smaller birds.

Harriers searches slowly into wind. Quarters open country. Drops on prey.

Typical Prey

Falcon eats small birds, They do not eat carrion.

Harriers eat mammals, eats carrion.

Bird Song / Call

Falcon Calls are rapid, piercing Kek-kek-kek

Harriers are generally silent and possess a plaintive Kee-a

Flight Silhouette

Falcon Flight Silhouette

Harrier Flight Silhouette

Remember: If you see a NZ Falcon in the forests please let your supervisor know. If you can, note down where you saw it and what it was doing – flying, hunting, perching etc.