Aplomado Falcons are rare birds. So rare, in fact, that no one really knows how many exist. Their historic range extended from casual visits to Tierra del Fuego north to northern Mexico and southern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Fossils of their Pleistocene predecessors have been found in what is now called Ecuador and Peru. No one even knows how many lived the United States. We do know that by the early 1960s none were residents in the United States. A vicious combination of DDT and elimination of the native grasslands had eradicated them. Some survived in northern Mexico but very few.
A breeding program begun in 1977 has released about 500 Aplomados in Northern Mexico and southern Texas and southern New Mexico. The remaining natural grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert are natural habitat for them. One of the many good things Ted Turner has done with his life is make available one of his New Mexico ranches for a release program. This ranch is just south of the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico and at least one of the falcons has made its way there. We saw it day before yesterday and here are photos. It is a juvenile and it was making the acquaintance of a raven. Given the intelligence of Ravens, we wondered if the Raven knew how rare Aplomados are and just wanted to look at one “up close and personal.” We’re sorry the birds are so small in the photo but they were a long way away and the adapter which fits the camera to our spotting scope was even further so this is the best we got. We’ll return again soon and try again, hopefully before this bird grows out of its juvenile coloring.