Falco concolor


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Falco concolor
Species Authority: Temminck, 1825
Common Name(s):
English Sooty Falcon
French Faucon concolore

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-11-15
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Abdulla Al Khuzai, S., Al-Jbour, S., Baha El Din, S., Coles, T., Gschweng, M., Hawkins, F., Jennings, M., Mann, C., McGrady, M. & Shobrak, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Mahood, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Khwaja, N.
This species has been classified as Near Threatened because it is suspected to have a moderately small, declining population. Detailed surveys and robust monitoring are much desired, and would lead to a clarification of its status.

2013 Near Threatened
2012 Near Threatened

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Falco concolor breeds discontinuously and highly locally from Libya, eastwards through Egypt to the Red Sea islands off Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia, islands and coasts of north-west and south-west Saudi Arabia and north-west Yemen, southern Israel, south Jordan and Bahrain, as well as islands in the Persian Gulf from Qatar to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and south-west Pakistan (Aspinall 1994); a few inland breeding records from Saudi Arabia show that its range extends to the interior of the region (Gaucher et al. 1988). Most of the population winters in Madagascar, but a small but unknown proportion winters in coastal Mozambique and eastern South Africa (south to southern Natal), and there is also limited over-wintering in the southern part of the breeding range. Estimating the total population has proved notoriously difficult, and the population may have been overestimated in the past. However, there are now thought to be no more than a few thousand wintering in Madagascar and a recent review of all Arabian census data, (which is reportedly surprisingly comprehensive for this species), and found that the total Arabian population is probably just below 500 breeding pairs (Jennings and Sadler 2006, F. Hawkins in litt. 2007). Given that the Arabian population is generally regarded as the largest within its range (perhaps half of the world population), the estimate from Madagascar may indeed prove to be accurate (Jennings and Sadler 2006). Anecdotal evidence from Madagascar indicates a decline, and this is mirrored by data from breeding colonies in the Middle East (Kavanagh and King 2003, F. Hawkins in litt. 2007, M. McGrady in litt. 2007); each of the latter when surveyed has shown a decline relative to previous survey results (McGrady and Nicoll 2008, Shah et al. 2008). Current estimates of the total populations range from 1,000-40,000 pairs, roughly equivalent to 2,000-80,000 mature individuals and 3,000-120,000 individuals in total (Nicoll et al. 2008). Clearly this estimate needs to be refined.

Bahrain; Chad; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Libya; Madagascar; Malawi; Mauritius; Mozambique; Niger; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Qatar; Réunion; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; Yemen; Zambia
Cyprus; Kuwait; Mali; Malta; Namibia; Seychelles; Syrian Arab Republic; Turkey; Zimbabwe
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is very difficult to accurately estimate the population size, but breeding surveys and evidence from the non-breeding grounds (F. Hawkins in litt. 2007) suggest there may only be a few thousand; this is placed into the banded range 10,000-19,999 mature individuals pending new information. This equates to 15,000-29,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 15,000-30,000 individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It breeds colonially in hot, arid environments; on cliffs, small rocky islands and rugged desert mountains where its breeding is timed to coincide with the autumn migration of small birds on which it feeds. Its nest is a shallow depression dug into the ground (Gaucher et al. 1988). It is a migratory species, with birds arriving in their wintering grounds in Madagascar and south-east Africa from late October, and returning to breeding sites in April (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Migrants generally travel singly, or in pairs or small flocks (Brown et al. 1982, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). In the non-breeding season it forages for large insects over grassland and open country with trees.

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Most of its breeding colonies are inaccessible or in protected areas so it would appear to be declining due to pressures in wintering grounds or on migration. Still, human disturbance may be a factor in some areas, including Bahrain's Hawar Islands (Kavanagh and King 2008, McGrady and Nicoll 2008). Increased pesticide use has been suggested as a causal factor, but egg analysis indicates that it is at very low concentrations in these birds.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
A two-year pilot survey was conducted on the offshore islands of northern Oman during 2007-2008, including the marking of birds with PIT rings and gathering of blood samples and unhatched eggs (McGrady et al. 2008, 2009).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor a number of breeding colonies annually to assess trends. Research the ecology of non-breeding and migrating birds to assess potential threatening processes. Oppose developments which would encroach on breeding colonies. Restrict access to important breeding colonies. Conduct surveys, to locate further breeding colonies and determine the proportion of birds that winter outside Madagascar. Establish annual monitoring at the important sites on the Daymaniyat and Fahal Islands, Oman. Survey coastal areas near Muscat, where baseline data exist from 1978, to better quantify population declines. Train local people in survey techniques (McGrady and Nicoll 2008).

Citation: BirdLife International 2014. Falco concolor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 28 August 2015.
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