Prairie Falcon
(Falco mexicanus)

Summary

Picture of bird
© Tony Battiste
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Prairie Falcon is an uncommon resident in the dry grasslands of southern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Results from the Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count suggest that its population has increased moderately since about 1970. This increase is likely a rebound from earlier declines due to pesticide contamination from DDT residues (Fyfe et al. 1969). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Not at Risk1996 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Vulnerable2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate IncreaseHighAt an Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500 - 5,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaLow

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late March and mid-April and ends in late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.
 

Conservation and management

Prairie Falcons breed on rocky ledges in open country and feed primarily on ground squirrels (Steenhof 2013). Populations in western Canada were adversely affected in the 1960s by contamination of prey with DDT residues (Fyfe et al. 1969). Conversion of natural grassland habitats to agriculture reduces prey availability (Steenhof 2013, Cooper and Beauchesne 2004). Regional populations may be influenced by land use activities that affect prey availability, nest site availability, and nest site disturbance. Prairie Falcons will use artificial nest sites cut into natural cliffs (Fyfe et al. 1969, Steenhof 2013).

 

Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation & Stewardship
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation
 

References