The Kārearea, or New Zealand Falcon

Mikester

Rotorua, New Zealand

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Artist's Description

The Kārearea, or New Zealand Falcon, Falco novaeseelandiae, is New Zealand’s only endemic falcon and indeed, the only remaining bird of prey endemic to New Zealand. It is frequently mistaken for the larger and more common Swamp Harrier.

A member of the Falconidae bird family, the Kārearea is mainly found in heavy bush and the steep high country in the South Island and is rarely seen north of a line through the central area of the North Island. A small population also breeds on the Auckland Islands; the species is known only from the Chatham Islands from fossil remains. Although protected since 1970, it is considered to be a vulnerable species with <b><u> as few as 4000 left in the wild</b></u>.

The Kārearea is a hobby, a bird that is extremely fast and agile in flight reaching speeds of up to 200 km/h. Most of its prey is caught on the wing, and it kills with a “tooth” on its beak, unlike other Falconiformes which kill with their feet or claws.

It differs from the much larger Swamp Harrier, Circus approximans, which is common throughout New Zealand, in that it catches other birds on the wing, and seldom eats carrion. An aggressive bird that displays great violence when defending its territory, the Kārearea has been reported to attack dogs as well as people.

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