RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – The rare Aplomado falcon is once again thriving throughout much of its historic coastal prairie habitat in South Texas.
The endangered falcon vanished from South Texas more than 50 years ago due to habitat loss, egg collecting and harmful pesticides, but thanks to a cooperative effort between the Peregrine Fund, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and private landowners, Aplomados are on the rebound.
The Peregrine Fund, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, began re-introducing the Aplomado falcon in South Texas in 1993. They quickly learned that many natural nests were being raided by Great-horned owls and other predators.
The Peregrine Fund began building artificial nest boxes with openings wide enough for the falcons, but too tight for a large owl to enter, and now there are more than 20 pairs of wild falcons scattered along the coast from The Rio Grande to Matagorda Island.
Senior biologist Brian Mutch with the Peregrine Fund has been working on the Aplomado recovery program since its inception.
Brain Mutch, Senior Biologist with the Peregrine Fund said, “We thank Texas, it has been a great state to work in. We have had a lot of support for a lot of years. I have worked on this project for 28 years from the very beginning of my career here. Texas wants the bird back.”
The box on Mary Jo Bogatto’s Cactus Creek Ranch east of Rio Hondo is home to three young Aplomados that are to be banded on the 25th anniversary of her stewardship of the land.
“25 of years of letting a property go back to being natural and things like this can happen.” said Mary Jo Bogatto.
As the three youngsters are carefully placed back in their protective home, landowner Mary Jo Bogatto can take pride with the many other private property owners who have helped the Aplomado falcon return to Texas skies.