2006 New Zealand Falcon
In this 11th issue dedicated to New Zealand's endangered species, we celebrate the magnificent New Zealand falcon.
Early in the 20th century, ornithologist William Herbert Guthrie-Smith wrote of the New Zealand falcon: “[It] brooks no rival in its own domain and will chase the harrier out of his sky, hunt the shepherd’s collies back to their master’s heels and attack even man himself.”
This magnificent bird is surely an awe-inspiring sight. Utterly fearless and with eyesight eight times more powerful than our own, it will swoop down from the sky at speeds of up to 230 kilometres per hour and, with a short, terrifying scream, seize some hapless bird in mid-flight. This manoeuvre, called a ‘stoop’, is at the same time both awful and riveting to watch – for when the falcon is hungry, nothing will stand in its way.
Yet, for all its domination of the skies, the New Zealand falcon is in danger of extinction. Its nesting lifestyle, the attacks of predators and the hunting habits of man have reduced it to precariously low levels, and the decline continues. While falcons are found throughout New Zealand, it is now officially listed as ‘acutely threatened’, with only about 450 pairs remaining in the North Island.
The New Zealand falcon deserves our care – as our only falcon and as a proud and dominant force in our natural landscape. I hope you’ll join us in celebrating its existence by ordering your New Zealand falcon coins today.