Chance to learn of falcons

Falcon researcher Dr Donna Falconer (photographed by a motion-activated camera) uses a walking pole to protect herself from attacking falcons, at Ferintosh Station, near Mt Cook. Photo supplied.
Falcon researcher Dr Donna Falconer (photographed by a motion-activated camera) uses a walking pole to protect herself from attacking falcons, at Ferintosh Station, near Mt Cook. Photo supplied.
There is no room for complacency over the future of the endangered New Zealand falcon, researcher and falcon advocate Dr Donna Falconer says.

Dr Falconer, who recently gained a University of Otago PhD in geology, and has had her distinctive name since birth, swiftly found herself inspired by a series of close encounters with New Zealand falcons after moving to Twizel six years ago.

Her subsequent research and close-up photography involving falcons will feature in a talk she will give at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary at 1pm tomorrow.

Dr Falconer said she was seriously considering going back to Otago University to study for another PhD, on these birds.

It was a good time to be raising awareness about the karearea or New Zealand falcon, as the latest season's fledglings were ''starting to make themselves known''.

Chicks from the Eastern falcon subtype, in the mid/southern South Island, started fledging from early December until the middle of this month and were easy to tell from their parents because they had white/grey feet and soft fleshy body parts, whereas adults were all yellow.

Two of the biggest threats inexperienced falcons faced were being electrocuted by power lines or hit by cars when eating roadkill.

Falcons were ''a bit of a double-edged sword'' where ecosanctuaries were concerned.

''As majestic as they are, it's only natural they'd put all those incredible hunting skills to good use given the veritable smorgasbord of fine dining opportunities at their wing tips in such places.''

Orokonui Ecosanctuary general manager Chris Baillie said two falcons and a hawk overflew the ecosanctuary from time to time.

She was not aware of having lost any birds or other animals through falcon predation, and birds and lizards had places to hide if needed.

''Falcons are part of the ecosystem- they deserve conservation as much as any other native species.''