Movements and Genetics of
Grey Falcons
Falco hypoleucos Gould, 1841.
A research project by
Jonny Schoenjahn
Perth, Western Australia.
This site was created 30 May 2004.
Last update: 25 February 2016.
Adult Grey Falcon Falco hypoleucos.
Photo © Gary Porter.
The Grey Falcon is one of Australia's rarest birds of prey, and no doubt its least studied. Among the reasons for this deficiency are the remoteness of the Grey Falcon's preferred habitat and the species' scarcity, making data collection slow and tedious. In 2003 I commenced an Australia-wide study, ‘Movements and Genetics of Grey Falcons’, with the aim to increase our knowledge of the ecology and biology of the species. The study focuses on long- and short-term movements and on determining the genetic variation residing within the population as a whole. The former data may assist in estimating the population size, which in turn is the basis to assess the conservation status for the species. The genetic variation is a measure of the capability of the species to respond to environmental threats and changes.
Adult Grey Falcon Falco hypoleucos.
Photo © Chris Field.
In July 2007, the first free-flying Grey Falcon was captured, a male. A long awaited break-through for the study.
The first free-flying Grey Falcon ever captured, July 2007.
Photo © Jonny Schoenjahn.
Note that the whitish tips of the two older central tail feathers have worn off, only the shafts are left.
Photo © Jonny Schoenjahn.
The bird was banded with one metal band on each lower leg, both bands of the colour 'metal' (see bottom of this page). The bands are well visible, in flight and when the bird is perched.

Since then, a further ten individuals where marked, including three that were fitted with a solar-powered satellite transmitter. The bird below is the male partner of a breeding pair; it was captured and tagged on 9 October 2010 while their two young were near fledging age. In 2011, the same male again was the partner of a pair breeding in the same nest. The position data generated by the satellite transmitters will greatly help to understand the ecology of the Grey Falcon by assessing home range size, movements between breeding seasons, nest site choice and much more.

Adult male Grey Falcon with satellite transmitter. Northern Territory, 9 October 2010.
Photo © Jonny Schoenjahn.
On the 4th of April 2014 in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, that juvenile female (below) was captured and satellite-tagged. If all keeps going well with this bird and its transmitter, they may be the best thing that has happened to the study so far. The data will help to identify conservation issues and to suggest conservation measures.
Ready to be released: Grey Falcon juvenile female. Western Australia, 4 April 2014.
Photo © Jonny Schoenjahn.
The main challenge for the fieldwork remains the task to find the birds, and in particular to locate active nests. Clearly this project would not be possible without the wonderful help of many people kindly reporting their observations to me.

This project is not possible without your help!

Please keep sending in your records.

Information will be kept strictly confidential.


This research project is conducted currently as a PhD-program at The University of Queensland under the supervision of Professor Gimme Walter ( WalterLab ), and with co-supervision of Dr. Chris Pavey ( ResearcherID and ResearchGate ) at CSIRO Land and Water.
The project is kindly supported by:
The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho. (Major financial supporter).
Dampier Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline (WA) Nominees Pty Ltd.
Western Australia's Department of Parks and Wildlife.
The University of Queensland.
CSIRO - (Australian) Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
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If you experience difficulties with this page or have any comments or suggestions, or a photograph of a Grey Falcon which could be included here, please send me an e-mail.
Colour-band combinations used in this study.
This Web site is © Copyright 2004-2016, and owned by
Jonny Schoenjahn
Perth, Western Australia
T: +61 (0)8 9385 9939