Bird Conservation International

Conservation of migratory birds

First description of autumn migration of Sooty Falcon Falco concolor from the United Arab Emirates to Madagascar using satellite telemetry

SÁLIM JAVEDa1 c1, DAVID C. DOUGLASa2, SHAHID KHANa1, JUNID NAZEER SHAHa1 and ABDULLAH ALI AL HAMMADIa1

a1 Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, PO Box 45553, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

a2 U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, 3100 National Park Rd., Juneau, AK 99801, USA.

Summary

The movement and migration pattern of the ‘Near Threatened’ Sooty Falcon Falco concolor is poorly known. Sooty Falcons breed on the islands of the Arabian Gulf after arriving from their non-breeding areas that are mainly in Madagascar. In the first satellite tracking of the species we fitted a 9.5 g Argos solar powered transmitter on an adult breeding Sooty Falcon off the western coast of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The bird successfully undertook autumn migration to Madagascar, a known wintering area for the species. We document the Sooty Falcon’s autumn migration route and stop-over sites. The adult Sooty Falcon initiated its migration at night and with tailwinds, and travelled mainly during daytime hours for 13 days over an inland route of more than 5,656 km. The three stop-over sites in East Africa were characterised by moderate to sparse shrub cover associated with potential sources of water. We discuss the migration pattern of the tracked bird in relation to importance of non-breeding areas for Sooty Falcons and recent declines in numbers in their breeding range.

(Received December 04 2010)

(Accepted April 10 2011)

(Online publication July 26 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence; email: sjaved@ead.ae