Our Falcons

Artie and Ella

Artie and Ella are a pair that really enjoy each other’s company, but don’t really like people all that much. Artie was found caught in a cherry orchard’s net near town three years ago and has a severe twist to his beak that is possibly the result of being held in captivity by someone who didn’t know how to care for falcons properly. Ella is a female who had become too focused on hunting chickens. The danger in allowing this behaviour to continue perpetuates a bad image for falcons and often results in persecution by humans. We are hoping these two will breed successfully this year!


Our newest arrival, ‘Dash’ was brought into captivity after taking a special interest in one dovecot’s contents. Juvenile female falcons often get into trouble after leaving their parents’ territory because they are not as fast as their brothers and need more to eat. This sometimes leads to young females discovering the relatively easy prey of poultry or pigeons, which leads to persecution by people. Dash took to her new home very quickly and has become very social and inquisitive. Dash was named by the students at Rapaura School who raised over $1000 to sponsor our project and she will likely be used for advocacy in the future.


Delphine was raised alongside Wilson and has mated with him for the past three years. A very gentle falcon through most of the year, Delphine is a very defensive mother and will deal to any intruders in her territory with sharp talons and plenty of kekking! Delphine also hates plants, and will systematically destroy anything we plant in her aviary.


Fern is one of our advocacy falcons and is a celebrity around town. Fern was hatched in captivity as one of three chicks from a pair of Marlborough falcons currently living at Wingspan. She was brought down to Marlborough in February 2012 and has been trained by Diana. Fern is an incredibly gentle and inquisitive bird and is very fond of sitting in the sun on her swinging perch when not out flying around the vineyard with Diana.


Another one of our oldest falcons, Ginny is a female who prefers the comforts of home in the winter and visits her mate during the breeding seasons. Living in a vineyard run by Max and his family, Ginny enjoys flying around her home territory all winter long and can often be spotted sitting in the tree above Max’s house waiting for her evening meal. In summer though, she departs in search of a mate and appears to breed each year. In 2008 Ginny bred with another legacy falcon in her home vineyard, but he was unfortunately electrocuted after that breeding season so Ginny was forced to look for another mate. She bred with legacy falcon Dudley the following year and successfully reared 3 chicks. Dudley disappeared the following year but Ginny continues to fly off each summer so we think she’s found another male to shack up with.


Mario’s slightly shy mate. Isla was released with her brother Harry and the pair were named after Peter's grandchildren. Isla moved across the valley once she reached maturity and shacked up with Mario- they successfully reared three chicks in 2011 when she was only 1 year old. She appears to be nesting again this year and prefers to catch her own food or have Mario fetch some for her- rarely taking food from her caretaker Nathan herself.


The oldest known falcon in Marlborough, Maggie is a successful breeding falcon. Two years ago, with Aston, she raised three chicks who all successfully fledged. That winter, Aston disappeared, but Maggie was able to find another mate and last year she raised another 3 chicks. Amazingly, even though she nested somewhere off of the vineyard, she led last year’s chicks back to Richard and he was able to provide both Maggie and the chicks with supplementary food over the lean winter months. Two of the female chicks remained for most of the winter, with one being dubbed ‘the noisy one’ and one ‘the quiet one’. The noisy one had a habit of whining for food, even when she was perched atop a wind machine with a piece of food clutched in her talons. Maggie has been looked after by her caretaker Richard for almost eight years!


A wee spitfire, Mario is a male falcon who has been breeding in the Awatere valley for the past two years. He and mate Isla successfully reared three chicks in 2011 and appear to be breeding again in 2012. A bird with plenty of character, Mario likes to soar along the cliff faces above the Awatere river and often hovers above Nathan’s head waiting for some food.


Napoleon was found as a chick in his nest with a thorn in his left eye, which was badly infected. Brought back into captivity by the FFG team, the infection cleared up but the vision in his eye couldn’t be saved. Falcons rely on their perfect vision for hunting and Napoleon wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild. Raised as an advocacy falcon, Napoleon is perfectly happy spending time with people. In 2012, he has been paired with Sara and they have bonded very well.


Sara was picked up in the wild as an adult, but was missing part of her tail and was very emaciated. She was named after the landowner on whose farm she was found. She has been with us for a little over a year now and has adapted well to her new surroundings- her tail has slowly moulted back to normal and she is currently our heaviest bird! She has been paired with Napoleon in 2012 and we are hoping for chicks from these two!


Living up to the name given to him by the students at Fairhall School, Swoop is fast, impatient and a star in the air. As Fern’s brother, he is our only juvenile male. His favourite past time is flying the length of his aviary at full speed and doing the equivalent of a flip turn to push off the wall and fly back. Swoop has been paired with Delphine.


One of our oldest falcons, Wilson was taken into captivity as a chick by the Falcons for Grapes (FFG) project. Since then, he has not only been one of the stars of our advocacy programme, but has fathered a chick and acted as adopted dad to a handful of others. Wilson has a reputation for being a bit cheeky- often trying to steal food when he thinks nobody is looking. Be sure to visit our Facebook page to hear the ‘We Love Wilson’ song that was written by the junior students at Rapaura School.