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Free Content Population status of breeding Saker Falcons (Falco cherrug) in Turkey

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The Saker Falcon Falco cherrug breeds in Turkey and also occurs in the country during passage and in winter. Turkey represents the southwestern range limit of the global breeding distribution of the species and is relatively isolated from the neighbouring population centres in Europe and Central Asia. A review of literature and other record sources indicated that the 19th century breeding population in Thrace had disappeared by the 1950s, in line with dramatic declines in the Southern Balkans. We could find no data on the Saker Falcon population elsewhere in Turkey prior to the 1960s. In the 1960s, the Saker Falcon was a rare breeding species found mainly in steppe habitats of Central and Eastern Anatolia. Despite increased ornithological recording activity in the country, the number of Saker Falcon records declined in the 1980s and 1990s, probably because of habitat loss, a reduction in the Anatolian Souslik (Spermophilus xanthoprymnus) population and the activities of falcon trappers. A recent resurgence in records since 2000 probably reflects an increase in ornithological recording by resident and visiting ornithologists. Our survey in 2007 confirmed that the Saker is a rare breeding species in Central and Eastern Anatolia despite there being much apparently suitable habitat and prey available in these regions. It is not clear whether or not the Saker population in Turkey is currently held at a low level by anthropogenic factors or whether the low population size is a characteristic of an isolated population of a species occurring at the edge its global distribution range.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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