Karearea, the New Zealand falcon is our most maligned and perhaps our most endangered bird. There are far fewer karearea than kiwi and yet their main cause of death is still, shamefully, deliberate shooting. This youngster didn’t make it to adulthood. We had enjoyed seeing her grow from a fledgling and she often visited our yard to catch crickets on our front lawn. Sadly, I found her dead shortly after taking this picture. The cause of death was likely starvation as it is also a major contributor to mortality in young karearea. Being ground nesters, predation is also a risk as is collision with powerlines and even windmills.
I fell hopelessly in love with karearea on a visit to Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre at Rotorua. There, a handful of dedicated bird lovers and falconers rescue injured karearea, kahu (Australasian harrier), ruru (morepork) and other birds of prey. Some are too seriously injured to survive in the wild and are trained as demonstration birds or captive bred and their progeny reintroduced to the wild. Open to the public, the centre features a free flight display by karearea and you can get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful and efficient avian predators on our planet.
Visit Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre: Open 9am-3pm. Flying displays are held daily at 2pm. Arrive @ 1:30pm for the falcon flight display at 2pm. 1164 Paradise Valley Road, Rotorua, NZ. http://www.wingspan.co.nz