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Red-footed falcon is a bird symbol of coming 2021

Since 1996 the Russian Birds Conservation Union has been choosing a bird of the year. One of the main objectives of it is to raise people’s awareness of bird conservation issues and outdoor ethics.

The designated bird species becomes a symbol of conservation for a year.🦢

In 2021 red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus) will be the bird of the year and get more attention as an object of conservation. Next year some events will be devoted to this bird of prey. Red-footed falcon is an incredibly rare species. It is included in the appendix of the Red Data Book of Russia and Red Data Books of Russia’s regions.

The symbol of 2021 belongs to the order Falconiformes. It resembles kestrels because of its appearance and behaviour but has different, narrower wings. The body length of the bird is from 28 to 33 cm, the length of the wings is 23-35 cm, the wingspan is from 65 to 77 cm, the weight is in the range from 130 to 197 g. The beak is short and weak.

Males have dark-gray feathers with a brick-reddish tint of the belly, undertail and "trousers". Females are ocher-colored with gray transverse stripes on the back, wings and tail; the belly is decorated with longitudinal streaks.
Male red-footed falcons, like all birds of prey, prefer animal food. However, due to their rather modest size, these small falcons prey primarily on large insects, such as dragonflies or large beetles. In their wintering grounds, which are in Africa, birds willingly eat locusts.

The total number of felines is about 300-800 thousand specimens, but the latest data indicate that in some regions the number of birds is significantly decreasing.

The interesting features of these birds attract bird watchers and birdwatchers.
Inhabitants of Africa tame felines, collecting small flocks of them for several years. Birds no longer fly to nesting sites. They catch insects, mice and other pests in the fields of their owners and, thus, "heal" the fields and increase yields.

These small predators often attack such a large bird in comparison with them, like a heron. They do this in order to take her nest.

In Crimea, the red-footed fawn is a rare migratory and nesting species. Birds arrive in late April-early May, first singly, then in small groups. They nest in the forest-steppe, have chosen the environs of the Opuksky and Kazantipsky reserves. In May, mating flights can be observed at the nesting sites. Departure of birds is observed in mid-September, they fly in small groups, only sometimes they form large flocks.

The decline in the number of the birds is probably due to the treatment of fields with pesticides, which, as you know, accumulate in the body of insects - the main food of this falcon. Also, the lack of optimal conditions for nesting - tall trees and the necessary food supply near the nesting sites.

Let’s treasure and preserve the nesting areas of these rare, colorful and valuable birds of Crimea.

We thank Igor Sikorsky, a researcher from Opuksky Nature Reserve, for the data and photos in this article.