Monitoring breeding of Eleonora's Falcon at Essaouira archipelago | Moroccan Birds

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Monitoring breeding of Eleonora's Falcon at Essaouira archipelago

A team of ornithologists of GREPOM/BirdLife Morocco shouldered by the local team of the Hight Commission for Water, Forestry and Desertification Control (HCEFLCD) and supported by the PIM Initiative (Mediterranean Small Islands Initiative) visited the archipelago of Essaouira (Mogador) in late July to monitor the reproduction of the local population of the Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae). During this work, 866 nests were located, the population therefore seems to remain relatively stable. A second phase at the end of the season will allow obtaining more precise information about breeding parameters and therefore draw conclusions about the dynamics of this population. To be continued...

You can see more details in the report published by GREPOM: Suivi de la Population du Faucon d'Eleonore ou l'Initiative PIM.

If we exclude the much bigger populations in the Greek Islands, the Mogador population is one of the biggest in the world.

Adult Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae) incubating two eggs, Essaouira archipelago
Adult incubating two eggs. Eleonora's Falcon can lay up to 4 eggs, those of Essaouira lay 3 on average.

Contrôle de la reproduction du Faucon d'Eléonore dans l'archipel d'Essaouira.

Une équipe d'ornithologues du GREPOM épaulée par l'équipe locale des Eaux et Forêts et appuyée par l’Initiative PIM (Petites Iles de Méditerranée) s'est rendue fin juillet sur l'Archipel afin d'effectuer le contrôle de la reproduction de cette population. Les colonies des Canaries et celles d'Essaouira sont les seules représentantes de cette espèce sur la façade atlantique qui se reproduit habituellement sur les îles Méditerranéennes (avant d'effectuer sa migration vers le Nord de Madagascar à l'automne).

Sa reproduction étant décalée par rapport aux autres espèces de rapaces de nos latitudes, c'est le premier passage de la saison qui vient d'être réalisé, impliquant pour les experts présents de recenser les nids de l'année ainsi que les tailles de ponte.

866 nids ont été localisés cette année, la population semble donc rester plutôt stable. Un deuxième passage à la fin de l'année permettra d'obtenir des paramètres de reproductions plus fins et d'ainsi tirer des conclusions sur les dynamiques de cette population. Affaire à suivre donc...


  1. And the only Atlantic 'colony' altho a few nests have been found on the mainland? - I would have thought this would be a moderate increase in numbers over the last 10 years? (ca650 then?) - I thought the 400+ adults that i saw feeding over the Oued Ksob was impressive but it's only a 1/5 of the adult birds.....

    Laurie -

    1. You are right Laurie, the colony at Essaouira archipelago is not the only one in Morocco but it’s the biggest. The other one is located at Bouknadel, north of Salé where there are still some 14 breeding pairs (down from 61-82 pairs in the 1970s).

      For Essaouira colony, the population has been increasing steadily at least since 20 years, after a period of decline in the 1960s till mid-1980s. So you are right about this. They said the population remained relatively stable only in comparison with the short period when they started this programme (816 breeding pairs in 2011).

      Data presented here from:

      - Rguibi, H., Qninba, A., Benjoussa, A. (2012). Eleonora’s Falcon, Falco eleonorae, Updated state of knowledge and conservation of the nesting populations of the Mediterranean Small Islands. PIM Initiative, 19 p. PDF here:

      - Thévenot, M., Vernon, R., & Bergier, P. (2003). The Birds of Morocco . BOU Checklist, no. 20, BOU & BOC, Tring.


  2. Thanks for the info Moh - i must say the colony @ Ess is the highlight of my Maroc trips as we usually end up the last few days before travelling back to Marrakesh to fly back :-(.....Will not be visiting for a couple of years as there are other places but back @ Tarifa mid-Sept for raptors etc.....

    ATB Laurie -