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Anthony Morton
Monday 16th February 2004, 15:44
How many UK birders have ticked the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) on their lists, when in fact what they have really seen is only a hybrid? Quite a few I would imagine, especially when you consider that even their breeders are often unable to tell them apart.

A quick look at the 'For Sale' lists in falconry-related magazines reveals that Peregrines are frequently being crossed with a variety of other non-native birds of prey to produce purpose-bred hybrids. These include such species as Gyrs, Sakers, Lanners, Luggers etc., and just about any combination of these you care to mention. Recently there has also been a fad to produce a 'British' hybrid called a 'Perlin', which is a cross between a Peregrine and a Merlin.

But each time one of these hybrids is lost by a falconer, it becomes a potential mate for a truly wild Peregrine, with the result that although any offspring they produce may look and behave like a true Peregrine, they are NOT pure. In other words, the genetic integrity of all the species involved has been compromised -and none more so than the Peregrine Falcon!

Jasonbirder
Monday 16th February 2004, 15:48
I would have thought the main danger was with sightings of Gyrfalcers and Lanners/Sakers - claims of non White Morph Gyrs are treated very carefully for that very reason. I`m sure many escaped "Sakers" and "Lanners" relate to falconers hybrids. The pitfalls of Large Falcon Hybrids was discussed in great depth in Birding World a few years back - i`ll dig out the reference when I get home

Sandy Martin
Monday 16th February 2004, 16:33
I wonder if mr Morton is leading up to a suggestion that suspect raptors be culled? It may save some racing pigeons and/or game birds.

birdman
Monday 16th February 2004, 16:43
Whilst it is true, I am sure, that the Peregrine tick on mine or anyone's list might be tainted, I don't see how anyone should feel they have an "incorrect" tick.

If it looks like a horse, sounds like a horse and smells like a horse - well you are justified in ticking horse, rather than aberrant zebra, surely?

And with regard to purity - I think we can all get far too hung up on this if we're not careful.

In its most simplistic terms, if a full peregrine were to breed with a perlin, then statistically, half the offspring would be peregrine and half perlin.

Two perlins breeding would produce 50% perlin, 25% peregrine and 25% merlin.

OK, I know it's not really quite as simple as that, but species in the long run would tend to revert to type, as dominant characteristics take hold.

Where they don't, well that just becomes another species "x" years down the line.

And lets face it, if breeders can cross peregrines and merlins, then so can nature.

Frankly, I don't care that much to worry about it!

Stephen Dunstan
Monday 16th February 2004, 17:03
Birdman,

Do you mean Peregrine x Merlin by the term 'perlin'? Never come across it before.

Stephen.

birdman
Monday 16th February 2004, 17:13
Yes, I do Stephen, although I've never come across it before either, and simply cribbed it from Anthony Morton's original post.

Suricate
Monday 16th February 2004, 18:49
I wonder if mr Morton is leading up to a suggestion that suspect raptors be culled? It may save some racing pigeons and/or game birds.
I think the point of the issue raised by Mr morton has nothing to do with pigeons more a concern as the thread stated, genetic integrety.
There are in a word too many hybrid raptors being held by falconers and there are too many that escape into the wild.
You cannot improve on nature so why do people try ? The gyr falcon is the largest falcon in the world and as one contributor mentions in this thread the White morph gyr is very distinctive, yet the darker phase is somewhat similar to the prairie and peregrine falcon.
The issue of genetic integety is a serious one and although not totally linked with raptors it is the falconry birds that give the greatest threat to natural species.
The hybrid lists are long ranging from perlins- Peregrine/merlin gyr/merlin gyr/ prairie and gyr/ pere/lanner and so on !
Already there have been reports of redtail hawks breeding with buteo buteo.
We have seen the impact that non indigenous species can have, crayfish, mink, grey squirrel, coypu and zander, perhaps hybrids are not in some peoples opinion to be non indigenous but they can if allowed have an adverse affect.
Suricate.

Stephen Dunstan
Monday 16th February 2004, 18:59
Why single out Peregines? There are lots of other areas where this is relevant - geese, dabbling ducks, diving ducks, stiff tail ducks, partridges, quails all come to mind without giving it all that much thought. Some of these are much more of a known issue than Peregrines. Although several species of raptor and hybrids escape regularly I am not aware of that many wild bird and escaped pairings.

Stephen.

Suricate
Monday 16th February 2004, 19:14
Why single out Peregines? There are lots of other areas where this is relevant - geese, dabbling ducks, diving ducks, stiff tail ducks, partridges, quails all come to mind without giving it all that much thought. Some of these are much more of a known issue than Peregrines. Although several species of raptor and hybrids escape regularly I am not aware of that many wild bird and escaped pairings.

Stephen.
The original thread related to peregrine hybrids and was followed by the mention of gyrs. as I said there are other hybrid issues but the raptor related ones are usually discussed the most.
I have not heard of any figures being taken in relation to escaped hybrids/ non indigenous species breeding successes but certainly there could be a serious issue if left. A look at the reported lost birds on the IBR web site can give a rough figure to some of the birds.
The issue of the Ruddy duck has caused controversy between different parties and obviously the correct solution will always differ in opinion. But it is important that these issues are raised.
Suricate

Michael Frankis
Monday 16th February 2004, 19:31
And lets face it, if breeders can cross peregrines and merlins, then so can nature.
Not in this instance - the cross has to be made by artificial insemination. Put a Peregrine and a Merlin together, and the Peregrine enjoys its dinner.

Michael

Anthony Morton
Monday 16th February 2004, 19:35
QUOTE=birdman

In its most simplistic terms, if a full peregrine were to breed with a perlin, then statistically, half the offspring would be peregrine and half perlin.

I think you are confusing statistics with genetics here. In a cross between a peregrine and a perlin, ALL the youngsters would be peregrine x perlin - in other words they would be 75% peregrine and 25% merlin.

Two perlins breeding together would produce 50% perlin, 25% peregrine and 25% merlin.

Not so. In this case the offspring would all be 50% peregrine and 50% merlin ie. 'pure' perlin.

By the way, the peregrine x merlin hybrid has been around for a few years now and they can change hands for several hundred pounds each. In fact financial gain seems to be the all too familiar reason why many of the raptor hybrids are bred in the first place.

pauco
Monday 16th February 2004, 19:43
I truly think we can get to carried away with the hybrid thing, the Gulls are bad enough, my peregrine tick stays as!!
bert.

Joe North
Monday 16th February 2004, 22:32
When I mentioned this subject to a pigeon fancier workmate, he said he was delighted. I asked why and he replied that a Peregrine/Harris Hawk hybrid behaved like the hawk, was not so fast and stayed around a kill, rendering itself easy to shoot, and as a visibly non-native species had no protection under the WCA thus could be shot with impunity.

Suricate
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 06:56
When I mentioned this subject to a pigeon fancier workmate, he said he was delighted. I asked why and he replied that a Peregrine/Harris Hawk hybrid behaved like the hawk, was not so fast and stayed around a kill, rendering itself easy to shoot, and as a visibly non-native species had no protection under the WCA thus could be shot with impunity.
Firstly there are no pere/harrishawks and secondly it is against the law to shoot any bird unless under licence or with land owners permission to shoot pest species.
It is stated in the thread in many cases a hybrid has been artificially inseminated Pere/ Merlin for obvious reasons, this may not stop a hybrid breeding with a wild species. It is illegal to shoot birds of prey ! so perhaps you can pass this on to your pigeon fancier friend as I am sure he wouldnt` like to be tarred with the same brush as so many gamekeepers !!!!
Suricate

Joern Lehmhus
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 08:04
It seems, at least after having read some german literature ,that on the continent no case is documented with Peregrine and Saker interbreeding in the wild (though they can in captivity , allthough it is very difficult to achieve a successfull pairing), or Peregrine and Merlin interbreeding in the wild or in captivity. There was one case in the wild, where a Peregrine male and a Saker female that had lost partners and lived and hunted in the same area, first tolerated and then also reacted to each other, but no breeding attempt was made.
But PeregrineXSaker hybrids have been reported to breed with Peregrines; with at least one case in Germany. So there was one known pair with a hybrid partner, out of a total of about 450 pairs in the end of the nineties. Up to now, I cannot see this as a big problem, but it is surely something to watch, as hybird birds are becoming more and more popular among falconers also here.

Are there any estimates or hard data how many hybrids enter into the peregrine population in UK?

Jörn

birdman
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 08:23
Not in this instance - the cross has to be made by artificial insemination. Put a Peregrine and a Merlin together, and the Peregrine enjoys its dinner.

Michael
OK... fair enough!

(Shows what I know about raptors)

birdman
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 08:29
QUOTE=birdman

In its most simplistic terms, if a full peregrine were to breed with a perlin, then statistically, half the offspring would be peregrine and half perlin.

I think you are confusing statistics with genetics here. In a cross between a peregrine and a perlin, ALL the youngsters would be peregrine x perlin - in other words they would be 75% peregrine and 25% merlin.

Two perlins breeding together would produce 50% perlin, 25% peregrine and 25% merlin.

Not so. In this case the offspring would all be 50% peregrine and 50% merlin ie. 'pure' perlin.

By the way, the peregrine x merlin hybrid has been around for a few years now and they can change hands for several hundred pounds each. In fact financial gain seems to be the all too familiar reason why many of the raptor hybrids are bred in the first place.Yeah... soon as I read you reply, I realised what a ridiculous mistake I had made...

One should not, as I did, confuse the passing on of species dna (which would of course be half peregrine half merlin in a bred-cross!) with something like gender. Statistically, you would know what gender offspring are likely, but they would still all be crosses.

Thanks for putting me right, Anthony.

So, next question, would the relative dearth of "wild" perlins doom the hybrid to failure?


(edit: I've edited this post to remove another stupid question that has already been answered - I should pay more attention!)

Anthony Morton
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 10:25
QUOTE=Sandy Martin]I wonder if Mr Morton is leading up to a suggestion that suspect raptors be culled? It may save some racing pigeons and/or game birds.

Hi Sandy,

I'm not quite sure whether you're being serious here, or perhaps just trying to be clever and start an argument. I'm always willing to oblige with the latter, of course, but on this occasion I believe the subject is far too serious and important for a cheap personal point-scoring exchange to develop. I therefore hope you will agree to restrict any further postings in this debate to those of a more constructive nature.

If you read what I said in my original posting (and not what you think I might have said, or even what you wish I might have said), you will realise that removing any 'impure' peregrines based only on visual identification is simply not an option. This is because even the 'experts' - the people who breed and fly them - can't always tell a pure peregrine falcon from a peregrine hybrid by sight alone.

As I see it, therefore, the alternatives are:-

a) Declare 'open season' on anything that looks like a peregrine, N.B. THIS IS NOT AN OPTION, or

b) Leave them alone, which is surely what MUST happen, and allow nature to eventually recover its original position.

In my opinion, the genetic integrity of the UK's peregrine falcon population was compromised the first time one of them bred successfully with either a non-indigenous or hybrid falcon in the wild, because from that point onwards the peregrines' blood was tainted.

At the moment the best we can hope for is the introduction of strict controls governing the breeding and flying of these imported falcons and their associated hybrids, in order to prevent any further watering-down of our native species. To this end, I believe the UK's established bird protection organisations should be taking the lead and lobbying hard for this to become law. Over a considerable period of time it should be possible to 'breed out' the non-indigenous blood in this way and eventually return the UK's peregrine falcon population to its original and unadulterated purity.

This action will certainly not be popular in some quarters, particularly with the many 'back garden' breeders of these falcon and other assorted raptor hybrids, as they are currently able to command prices of anywhere between £200 - £1,000 per bird for their efforts!

In the meantime, as far as birders are concerned I suppose if a peregrine looks like a peregrine, then it is a peregrine. There really is no other alternative!

Ranger James
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 13:46
I think there needs to be some research carried out as to whether this hybridisation is happening in the wild stock or not. To make a hybrid falcon you need to have a teircel ejaculate into a hat, before artificially inseminating the flacon. It would be useful to know whether the hybridised birds are able to mate with wild falcons.
Is this info to hand? If not it is difficult to carry this discussion on any further than hypothetical speculation.

Suricate
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 14:27
I think there needs to be some research carried out as to whether this hybridisation is happening in the wild stock or not. To make a hybrid falcon you need to have a teircel ejaculate into a hat, before artificially inseminating the flacon. It would be useful to know whether the hybridised birds are able to mate with wild falcons.
Is this info to hand? If not it is difficult to carry this discussion on any further than hypothetical speculation.
I doubt very much if there is any info relating to hybrid breeding success with wild falcons.
Perhaps the issue may be hypothetical to a degree but the true facts are there are a high number of reported hybrids being lost along with the usual hawks ( Redtails and harris hawks ) IBR Web site.
So there could be reason for concern ? Or reason to assess the the need for hybrids in any species.
Suricate

Anthony Morton
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 19:48
QUOTE=birdman

So, next question, would the relative dearth of "wild" perlins doom the hybrid to failure?


Hi Birdman,

I'm beginning to wish I was a geneticist - but sadly I'm not!

As I see it (and I'm open to correction of course!) so long as there is at least one male and one female 'perlin' living in the wild, then it is statistically possible for the two of them to eventually meet, pair up and breed successfully - although I imagine that would be stretching the odds of possibility/probabitity to the absolute limit.

If I understand Suricates earlier posting correctly, he is confirming that an unknown number of assorted hybrids, including 'perlins', are already living wild in the UK. Therefore I assume the chance of two wild 'perlins' meeting and getting it together would increase in direct proportion to their total population.

But this is only half of the problem. What if just one 'perlin' took a fancy to a peregrine falcon, or another 'perlin' set its heart on a merlin for a mate? In each case any resulting young would all carry a percentage of impure blood, which they in turn would then pass on from generation to generation.

I spoke in an earlier posting of eventually breeding the 'impure' blood out, but with the benefit of hindsight that cannot happen, as it doesn't matter how many times the blood is diluted, in DNA terms it will always contain a measurable trace of the blood from the original hybrid pairing.

So if only one 'perlin' is living in the wild it still has the potential to leave its DNA mark simply by breeding with a bird from an otherwise pure species, or even a different hybrid. This was the point I was making when I suggested that the genetic integrity of Britain's raptors is in danger of being compromised for all time by these 'man-made' hybrids.

birdman
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 20:21
To be fair, Anthony, I never really addressed your original comment, that you have repeated again in you last post.

I suppose it is sadly true that genetic integrity must be "breached" by the introduction of man-made cross-breeds into the wild.

And as you have said, once a given blood-line is compromised, then technically you can never get purity back.

But then, I suppose, there is purity and there is purity. If one accepts Evolutionary Theory, then there must be some time in history when peregrines and merlins were both one and the same ancestral species. Somehow, through the process of natural selection, the populations of this archaic raptor separated to produce peregrines, merlins and all other raptor species.

Whilst I understand from another thread there are 35 sub-species of Barn Owl, and therefore these are sufficiently different from one another to be separated by whatever techniques mankind has developed, there must come a time after a relatively few (?) generations when any hybridisation that does not produce a wholly different "species" or at least "sub-species", will be indiscernible from pure, even using the most sophisticated DNA analysis.

Mind you, I am certainly not suggesting this is any defence against releasing non-native raptors (or any other species for that matter) into the wild.

Also, and this like the above, is based purely on my thoughts rather than any empirical data, we have thousands upon thousands of ducks in this country.

Whilst hybrids obviously occur, and some common hybridisations in sufficient numbers to be reasonably well studied, we're not exactly knee-deep in mixtures!

For the most part it seems, without human intervention at least, ducks tend to breed within their species. Pochards with Pochards, Tufties with Tufties, Teal with Teal. Even Mallards, who seems to have a reputation for trying it on with anything with a bill, generally choose other Mallards.

I don't see any reason why things should be different with raptors.

Suricate
Tuesday 17th February 2004, 21:16
QUOTE=birdman

So, next question, would the relative dearth of "wild" perlins doom the hybrid to failure?


Hi Birdman,

I'm beginning to wish I was a geneticist - but sadly I'm not!

As I see it (and I'm open to correction of course!) so long as there is at least one male and one female 'perlin' living in the wild, then it is statistically possible for the two of them to eventually meet, pair up and breed successfully - although I imagine that would be stretching the odds of possibility/probabitity to the absolute limit.

If I understand Suricates earlier posting correctly, he is confirming that an unknown number of assorted hybrids, including 'perlins', are already living wild in the UK. Therefore I assume the chance of two wild 'perlins' meeting and getting it together would increase in direct proportion to their total population.

But this is only half of the problem. What if just one 'perlin' took a fancy to a peregrine falcon, or another 'perlin' set its heart on a merlin for a mate? In each case any resulting young would all carry a percentage of impure blood, which they in turn would then pass on from generation to generation.

I spoke in an earlier posting of eventually breeding the 'impure' blood out, but with the benefit of hindsight that cannot happen, as it doesn't matter how many times the blood is diluted, in DNA terms it will always contain a measurable trace of the blood from the original hybrid pairing.

So if only one 'perlin' is living in the wild it still has the potential to leave its DNA mark simply by breeding with a bird from an otherwise pure species, or even a different hybrid. This was the point I was making when I suggested that the genetic integrity of Britain's raptors is in danger of being compromised for all time by these 'man-made' hybrids.
Hi Anthony,
I think I am right in stating that there are no precise numbers in regard to hybrid raptors.
Many falconry birds are identi rung by the IBR ( Independant bird register ) and they have a web site that lists many falconry issues and a lost / stolen page which does at times seem full!!!
The implications of your thread re genetic integrety must be taken seriously as the threat is there, Falconry does seem to be the area that hybridation is mainly worked in, trying for some ridiculous reason to improve on nature.
The list of hybrids is extensive but it does not stop there how about "tribrids".
Most of the hybrids are of the falco genus as other genus are not possible, not desirable or not worth it. There are over 15 hybrid species in the UK and at some point a percentage , perhaps minute will breed with wild species.
Suricate

Joern Lehmhus
Wednesday 18th February 2004, 11:02
Hi all,

maybe this is of some interst here (sorry, it is in German)

http://nrw.nabu.de/m05/m05_01/

The important thing is that there was a pairing of a hybrid with a Peregrine in Northrhine-Westfalia in 2000 (the 2 young were taken from the wild and brought into a Raptor centre; the hybrid tiercelwas later caught and it was found it belonged to a Raptor dealer in Bavaria); and in 2001 2 pairings that involved a hybrid were found in whole Germany.

If this increases, it will become a problem (more than I thought previously); also because some of the hybrids seme to be very difficult to distinguish from pure birds even at close distance. The tiercel in Northrhine -westfalia was only recognized as a hybrid when the ringers found the young differed from pure peregrines.

Jörn

Jane Turner
Wednesday 18th February 2004, 14:32
I really worry about the forced captive hybidisation of raptors and would lobby strongly to have it stopped.

I've seen one monstrous hybrid Saker/Gyr sized thing in the wild, an all black Peregrine and what was either a fem Barbary falcon or a Peregrine X Prairie type thing...

I would have expected that the young of hybrid falcons to be infertile!

Edward woodwood
Wednesday 18th February 2004, 14:48
seconded Jane

Joern Lehmhus
Wednesday 18th February 2004, 14:51
Hi Jane,
Doesn´t seem to be so-at least not with Peregrine X Gyr/Peregrine or Saker/Peregrine hybrids.

I red somewhere that Peregrines probably evolved from the steppe/tundra inhabiting Gyr/saker group; as an adaptation to less open country the special hunting behaviour of the peregrine developed (stoops from high in the air on prey flying above tree canopy in wooded areas), but the peregrine also still has the low flying technique of gyr or saker in open biotopes.
Don´t know if that is true , though it seemed quite plausible to me. And it might also explain why these hybrids can be fertile
(but I don´t know how this is with merlin/Peregrine hybrids or hybrids with prairie falcon?)

Jörn

Jane Turner
Wednesday 18th February 2004, 15:42
I was basing it more on the supposed lack of fertility of F1 hybrids of full species rather than on habit

Anthony Morton
Wednesday 18th February 2004, 15:42
QUOTE=Joern Lehmhus

If this increases, it will become a problem (more than I thought previously); also because some of the hybrids seme to be very difficult to distinguish from pure birds even at close distance. The tiercel in Northrhine -westfalia was only recognized as a hybrid when the ringers found the young differed from pure peregrines.

Jörn

Hi Joern,

Thank you for an excellent contribution!

This is exactly the point I am making - that 'IF' the number of lost hybrids is allowed to increase unchecked, then what might, or might not, have happened by a natural evolutionary process over possibly thousands of years will be forced upon the species involved (in this case raptors) in very short order due to man playing God and meddling with genetics.

And once the genie is out of the bottle (which it may already be don't forget!) the damage becomes irrevocable, because we will have hybrids which are virtually impossible to identify by any means other than DNA sample. Personally I much preferred it when nature was allowed to get on with things in its own time - but then, I'm old fashioned!

Suricate
Wednesday 18th February 2004, 18:09
QUOTE=Joern Lehmhus

If this increases, it will become a problem (more than I thought previously); also because some of the hybrids seme to be very difficult to distinguish from pure birds even at close distance. The tiercel in Northrhine -westfalia was only recognized as a hybrid when the ringers found the young differed from pure peregrines.

Jörn

Hi Joern,

Thank you for an excellent contribution!

This is exactly the point I am making - that 'IF' the number of lost hybrids is allowed to increase unchecked, then what might, or might not, have happened by a natural evolutionary process over possibly thousands of years will be forced upon the species involved (in this case raptors) in very short order due to man playing God and meddling with genetics.

And once the genie is out of the bottle (which it may already be don't forget!) the damage becomes irrevocable, because we will have hybrids which are virtually impossible to identify by any means other than DNA sample. Personally I much preferred it when nature was allowed to get on with things in its own time - but then, I'm old fashioned!
Hi Anthony,
In regard to the fertility of hybrids raised by someone earlier on the thread, there is evidence to prove that hybrids and tribrids are able to reproduce., This is obviously because all successful hybrids in regard to birds of prey ( Raptors ) is due to the falco genus only being used.
This hybrid problem will be forwarded in the consultation from DEFRA regarding the guidelines set down for non indigenous species.
Falconry should perhaps have stronger guidelines ?
Suricate

Andrew Rowlands
Wednesday 18th February 2004, 20:24
'IF' the number of lost hybrids is allowed to increase unchecked, then what might, or might not, have happened by a natural evolutionary process over possibly thousands of years will be forced upon the species involved (in this case raptors) in very short order due to man playing God and meddling with genetics.


"FORCED"!!!!! If, as has been suggested, the population is at saturation point, then the F1 hybrids etc., would be at a disadvantage and possibly never get a chance to breed!

Andy.

Still waiting for your references from your earlier post!

Jane Turner
Wednesday 18th February 2004, 21:01
It is of course an interesting itellectual argument to discuss if any "meddling" in species itegrity is acceptable. How about selective breeding?

Ranger James
Thursday 19th February 2004, 08:54
QUOTE=Joern Lehmhus

If this increases, it will become a problem (more than I thought previously); also because some of the hybrids seme to be very difficult to distinguish from pure birds even at close distance. The tiercel in Northrhine -westfalia was only recognized as a hybrid when the ringers found the young differed from pure peregrines.

Jörn

Hi Joern,

Thank you for an excellent contribution!

This is exactly the point I am making - that 'IF' the number of lost hybrids is allowed to increase unchecked, then what might, or might not, have happened by a natural evolutionary process over possibly thousands of years will be forced upon the species involved (in this case raptors) in very short order due to man playing God and meddling with genetics.

And once the genie is out of the bottle (which it may already be don't forget!) the damage becomes irrevocable, because we will have hybrids which are virtually impossible to identify by any means other than DNA sample. Personally I much preferred it when nature was allowed to get on with things in its own time - but then, I'm old fashioned!

That's very old fasioned Anthony, seeing as man has been meddling in genetics for many thousands of years.

This is a worrying prospect however, and I think Suricate has a good point suggesting much stricter codes regulating falconry. It is illegal to 'release' any non-native in this country, so perhaps the legeslative effects of the CROW act should be called into play in these situations.

Anthony Morton
Thursday 19th February 2004, 10:28
QUOTE = Ranger James

This is a worrying prospect however, and I think Suricate has a good point suggesting much stricter codes regulating falconry. It is illegal to 'release' any non-native in this country, so perhaps the legeslative effects of the CROW act should be called into play in these situations.

Hi James,

Perhaps one way of illustrating the hypocricy of this, is that while I could release and lose a Peregrine/Lanner x Lugger/Gyr hybrid (if such a 'beast' exists, but you'll get my drift) without penalty, while you could be prosecuted for deliberately releasing a Budgerigar!

Daft, or what? Perhaps Mr Bumble was right, and "... the law is a ass - a idiot."

Anthony

Joern Lehmhus
Thursday 19th February 2004, 10:46
Hi all,
I think the situation with peregrines and hybrids shows some similarities to the ruddy duck-whiteheaded duck problem.
I wouldn´t think a few hybrids breeding with the pure species cause any problems, but if hybrid numbers and escapes are increasing, the genepool of the species may in the end be strongly altered.
This could have effects on populations and species on different levels and even affect the peregrines long-term survival as á species.

Aside from that there is a problem, if we decide to do something against this situation:

If it is decided to do something about the problem and hybrid birds are allowed to be culled; this would cause heavy effects on the peregrine population, due to the fact that quite a lot of pure birds will be killed also. People would claim to have thought: this must be a hybrid...
A similar problem occured in the Lowlands of Northrhine-Westfalia during the initially successfull Reintroduction of Northern Raven (Corvus corax). The population in that area first increased, then started to decline again allthough habitat was fine. The probable main reason was that birds were shot by people who thought them to be carrion crows (or at least said so; carrion crow shooting not being forbidden). So now this Raven population is again nearly extinct, despite the initial success.

Therefore I agree with Ranger James and Suricate; in the way that a kind of control by law must be found. The release or loosing of a hybrid shouldBut the control of this will be extremely difficult to achieve; so perhaps the possession or production of such hybrids should be made illegal?

Joern

Jane Turner
Thursday 19th February 2004, 12:48
I'm with you there.. the problem should be stopped at source...mind you personally, and I stress its a personal view, I'm uncomfortable with falconry...full stop.

I'd still be very very surprised if long-term the hybirds had any serious effect on the natural populations of raptors and left to their own devices thinngs will sort themselves out.

Ranger James
Thursday 19th February 2004, 13:46
I'm with you there.. the problem should be stopped at source...mind you personally, and I stress its a personal view, I'm uncomfortable with falconry...full stop.

I'd still be very very surprised if long-term the hybirds had any serious effect on the natural populations of raptors and left to their own devices thinngs will sort themselves out.


I don't want to get too far into the falconry side of things, as I am well aware that this is a wild bird forum, however for this thread it is particularly pertinant.

I belive that the gulf between bad raptor keepers, and good falconers/austringers is as huge as in any animal welfare issue. Some people are capable of keeping an animal well and others do not. If done well, the falcon flies with the falconer, not for them. And at its best the bond between falconer and bird represents one of the most intimate pairings of man and animal. I know many of you will think this utter, utter nonsense, but that's what my (limited) first hand experience has made me feel.

The difference beteen keeping, say, a falcon and a dog in captivity, is that the falcon requires more specialist skill to maintain its wellbeing. The keeping of any bird of prey, in less than perfect conditions is at best undesireable and at worst abhorent. Which is precisely why I am gobsmaked that there are not much tighter regulations in this country governing this persuit.

I also think that by insisting upon the highest level of husbandry for all aspects of falconry, you will almost completely remove the element that this string is following, as systems would be in place for the falconer to report a bird missing as soon as it happens, and all captive bred falcons/hawks/owls being flown free in this country would be accounted for. A mammoth undertaking I grant you. But one that should be done to bring the pursuit up to modern animal welfare standards.

What I do not want to see, (and I'm sure there was no intention by the thread starter to imply this) is this issue cited as a reason for getting rid of some 'undesireable' populations of peregrines, that by some are seen to be getting in the way of songbird numbers; pigeon racing; climbers; can't think of any other user groups that could object to a healthy population of falcons in thier patch?

In an over-simplified nutshell: Don't blame the birds for escaping, make it more difficult to own one in the first place.

Just my thoughts.
James

Anthony Morton
Thursday 19th February 2004, 13:56
Re: Posting No 37 by Ranger James.


Hi James,

Absolutely spot on. Very well said indeed.

Anthony

Joern Lehmhus
Thursday 19th February 2004, 14:11
Hi Jane,
agreed. The point of concern for me is if there is a high frequency of escape and therefore a constant introgression into the wild population (similar to the situation in wild salmon and farm salmon).

Hi James,
agreed. And I didn´t intend to start a thread on banning falconry or blaming the bird that escapes. But I have seen too many birds in less than perfect conditions (so I would like to have very strict control on falconers and the conditions they keep their animals). This is similar with other birds, especially with many parrots and their keepers-
but I didn´t want to drift away from this threads topic- this would be something for another thread.

Edward woodwood
Thursday 19th February 2004, 14:54
Joern...you said
I wouldn´t think a few hybrids breeding with the pure species cause any problems, but if hybrid numbers and escapes are increasing, the genepool of the species may in the end be strongly altered.


have a look at the WWT website page on Ruddy Ducks and proliferation of hybrids...what you say in the second half of your sentence above is happening in Spain....result: no more White-headeds....unless BANG BANG BANG ;)

atb
Tim

Jane Turner
Thursday 19th February 2004, 14:57
Ducks are far far more prone to wild hybridisation of course...being one super species in effect... yuck...

Joern Lehmhus
Thursday 19th February 2004, 15:25
Tim, yer right
- and we had just this discussion about these problems in another thread a short time ago - don´t remember where it was located though...my brain´s like a sieve at the moment and some bits are not big enough to get caught...

Jane , that´s one of the things I find fascinating about ducks- allthough some drive you nuts when you want to find out what they are...
by the way, what about big gulls?? that can be equally nice and frustrating in one -like ducks

Joe North
Thursday 19th February 2004, 17:17
Suricate. Your post 14. I spoke to my pigeon fancier friend today, he says that (for instance) a Harris Hawk has no protection under WCA Sect 69 Schedule1 or 4 as it is a non-native species, and no matter what breed it happens to be, any bird of prey wearing "ownership" rings has no protection inder Schedule 1 of the Act as it is not a wild bird. PS. Don't shoot the messenger !

Suricate
Thursday 19th February 2004, 19:04
Suricate. Your post 14. I spoke to my pigeon fancier friend today, he says that (for instance) a Harris Hawk has no protection under WCA Sect 69 Schedule1 or 4 as it is a non-native species, and no matter what breed it happens to be, any bird of prey wearing "ownership" rings has no protection inder Schedule 1 of the Act as it is not a wild bird. PS. Don't shoot the messenger !
Hi Joe,
I fully understand what you are saying but obviously anyone shooting a registered bird of any species could face prosecution be it civil or criminal law.
Even species classed as pests can, if shot bring prosecutions and such a case was highlighted some months ago when a man was reported for shooting starlings in his garden with an airgun.
As with game keepers if they are not caught then they can get away with murder shooting and poisoning birds of prey but it does not make it right.
I know a few good pigeon fanciers who understand the predation problems on their pigeons and obviously they are concerned by the predation of racing pigeons but they would not turn to shooting or poisoning them.
suricate

nirofo
Thursday 19th February 2004, 22:00
The so called Falconers who are breeding these Frankenstein like birds and ALLOWING them to escape into the environment to interbreed with the PURE RACE are totally irresponsible. So, what do we do to stop this happening, another Ruddy Duck type cull of Heinz Peregrine, RSPB and Government backed of course, or do we nip it in the bud now and stop the Falconers. It's an interesting scenario, lets see how many Falconers / Breeders reply to this?

nirofo.

Suricate
Friday 20th February 2004, 07:34
The so called Falconers who are breeding these Frankenstein like birds and ALLOWING them to escape into the environment to interbreed with the PURE RACE are totally irresponsible. So, what do we do to stop this happening, another Ruddy Duck type cull of Heinz Peregrine, RSPB and Government backed of course, or do we nip it in the bud now and stop the Falconers. It's an interesting scenario, lets see how many Falconers / Breeders reply to this?

nirofo.
Hi nirofo,
My personal view is that there is no need for hybids and any used in Falconry should either be stopped completely or stronger legislation put in place to control the numbers flown and even tighter controls of what they are flown at.
I am disgusted that people are still permitted even under licence to fly at such species as skylarks.
As this thread is related to hybrids the whole issue and possible consequences are relevant.
suricate

Anthony Morton
Friday 20th February 2004, 09:08
QUOTE = nirofo

... So, what do we do to stop this happening, another Ruddy Duck type cull of Heinz Peregrine, RSPB and Government backed of course, or do we nip it in the bud now and stop the Falconers....

nirofo.

Hi nirofo,

I believe a cull of any kind is out of the question, simply because it is impossible to accurately distinguish between a 'pure' peregrine falcon and a peregrine hybrid by visual means alone.

I would support nipping the problem in the bud with an outright ban on the breeding and flying of all raptor hybrids as you suggest. As has already been mentioned, however, it may already be too late and the genetic integrity of several of the UK's indigenous raptor species has (perhaps) already been compromised.

If this is so, then it is impossible to 'wash' the impure blood out completely, only dilute it, in which case it will leave an indelible fingerprint on the affected birds DNA profile for evermore. And that's the problem!

Anthony

Andrew Rowlands
Friday 20th February 2004, 12:00
SNIP simply because it is impossible to accurately distinguish between a 'pure' peregrine falcon and a peregrine hybrid by visual means alone.SNIP

Anthony,

Another sweeping generalisation?

Andy.

Anthony Morton
Friday 20th February 2004, 13:17
QUOTE=satrow

Anthony,

Another sweeping generalisation?

Andy. QUOTE



No, this is what's called an opinion - MY opinion!

Jane Turner
Friday 20th February 2004, 14:07
To me its simple.
1. ban all artificial hybridisation of falcons
2. ensure that all hybrids are chipped and databased
3. criminalise the release of hybrids (and others)
4. leave the wild birds to get on with it... If any hybrids are fertile, and many really can't be.. the odd stray gene will quickly get diluted out.

The hybrids that are most likely to be fertile are the Perergrine X Barbary or X Prairie which are only just speciated (sometimes debatably) and might be expected to have stray genes in the wild population anyway.

Edward woodwood
Friday 20th February 2004, 14:29
Birds should be flying free in the wild

the only reason for people to 'keep' birds is to support endangered species breeding programs,

didn't want to enter this debate but:
keeping birds is NOT in any way letting nature take its course despite Anthony saying this is what he believed in!....and is the root of this problem as was the keeping of Ruddies at Slimbridge

leighjauncey
Friday 20th February 2004, 14:53
It is a lot to do with the legislation regarding owning wild species of raptors that has led to the production of so many hybrids- the same stringent rules of licensing do not apply thereby making them much more attractive to deal in. Apart from the natural phenomenon of hybrid vigour, hydrids do not offer much advantage over any natural species. I agree very much with the views on responsible ownership. There are a lot more irresponsible dog owners than raptor owners and their dogs do far more harm environmentally than a few escaped hybrid falcons, the numbers of which are comparitively minute.

nirofo
Friday 20th February 2004, 20:17
Hi leighjauncey

I never thought of dogs harming the environment, can you enlighen us on how they do this, is it the mess they make in the park or on the causeway that causes this environmental damage, or maybe it's the occasional stray that worries a few of the local cats, or could that be the local cats worrying the stray dogs. HMMMM, don't know.

nirofo.

leighjauncey
Friday 20th February 2004, 21:29
Dogs do make a mess of course but in my experience the 'worrying' and killing of nesting wildfowl and roosting waders is far more harmful. Perhaps it is not the case in North Scotland but irresponsible dog owners/walkers disturb a lot of nesting birds on my local moors. This is an aside really. Has anyone any data on genetic variability in wild falcons of any species? I would think in the USA where the population crash of peregrines was worse than the UK the resulting genetic bottleneck, similar to that suffered by cheetahs several thousand years ago, would leave the population possibly benefitting from a bit of extra variation. I don't think it's a good thing for hybrid, captive bred falcons, to mix with the wild populations but there are a lot more pressing problems for wild raptor populations. To suggest that the captive breeding and flying of hybrid falcons should be banned suggests a lack of understanding of i) the potential for wild hybridisation and ii) the magnitude of the practise.

Edward woodwood
Friday 20th February 2004, 21:39
to suggest that captive breeding and flying of hybrid falcons should be banned suggests a lack of understanding etc etc...also suggests a basic philosophical difference on our approach to our relation to birds.

I wouldn't want to ban it though....in an ideal world it wouldn't need legislating against

Suricate
Saturday 21st February 2004, 07:47
In an ideal world we woundnt` need speed cameras, or to lock our doors at night or fear for our grandparents every time they go to the shops!!. It is in many cases beneficial to keep and breed to release certain species worldwide and this has been proven. Tighter controls are needed to ensure anyone keeping any species keeps it correctly. But in my opinion there is no need to breed hybrid species, you cannot improve on nature. Already many bird species ( 1200 ) are in serious threat of decline why not concentrate on protecting them and not adding to the problems. Is there room or need to re-introduce the Great Bustard ?
Suricate

Jasonbirder
Saturday 21st February 2004, 08:51
In an ideal world we woundnt` need speed cameras

Eeeek!!! Who says we need speed cameras in this world!

Jasonbirder
Saturday 21st February 2004, 08:59
I don`t know where this thread came from? Hybrid Falcons is an Animal Welfare issue not a conservation issue. The number of Hybrid Falcons compared to wild birds is tiny, the number of escaped Hybrid Falcons is tiny tiny and the number of escaped Hybrid Falcons which breed with wild Falcons is tiny tiny tiny (well Zero really!)

Falconers who feel the need to artificially inseminate various combinations of Gry/Lanner/Lagger/Saker to produce the "ultimate" bird do need legislating against - because its a cruel and unnecessary thing to do, not because of some ridiculous notion that they`re all going to break out and interbreed with our native Peregrines!! I`ve heard some ridiculous notions in my time but that one really takes the biscuit!!

In the time i`ve spent Birding i`ve seen One probable Saker in the wild - and that was because someone told me where it was and I made the effort out of curiosity as against hundreds and hundreds of wild Peregrines - not exactly a major problem, particularly when you think that escaped Falcons are unlikely to mate succesfully with wild birds.

Anthony Morton
Saturday 21st February 2004, 15:15
QUOTE = Jasonbirder
I don`t know where this thread came from?

That's an easy one to answer - I started it as you would know if you've read Posting No. 1

Hybrid Falcons is an Animal Welfare issue not a conservation issue.

Not so. It is only an animal welfare issue when they are in captivity. It becomes very much a conservation issue once they are living, and possibly breeding, in the wild.

The number of Hybrid Falcons compared to wild birds is tiny, the number of escaped Hybrid Falcons is tiny tiny and the number of escaped Hybrid Falcons which breed with wild Falcons is tiny tiny tiny (well Zero really!)

Do you have a quotable source for this statement, or is it just your opinion?

Falconers who feel the need to artificially inseminate various combinations of Gry/Lanner/Lagger/Saker to produce the "ultimate" bird do need legislating against - because its a cruel and unnecessary thing to do, not because of some ridiculous notion that they`re all going to break out and interbreed with our native Peregrines!! I`ve heard some ridiculous notions in my time but that one really takes the biscuit!!

I agree with you about the need to legislate against breeding raptor hybrids either for profit or just for the hell of it. I also agree that it's unnecessary. But cruel? Now that's another question entirely and certainly one that would be an animal welfare issue if true and therefore not part of this thread.

As for the (quote) "...ridiculous notion that they're all going to break out and interbreed with our native peregrines!!" and "I've heard some ridiculous notions in my time but that one really takes the biscuit!!", where did this idea come from? As far as I'm aware, you are the only person to suggest this.

In the time i`ve spent Birding i`ve seen One probable Saker in the wild - and that was because someone told me where it was and I made the effort out of curiosity as against hundreds and hundreds of wild Peregrines - not exactly a major problem, particularly when you think that escaped Falcons are unlikely to mate succesfully with wild birds.

And that is exactly why I started this thread. You say that you've seen (quote) ..."hundreds and hundreds of wild peregrines" - but have you? How can you be so sure that one, ten or one hundred of them were not 'pure' peregrines
but peregrine hybrids or even a non-indigenous species altogether? I can tell
you the answer to that one - you can't!

As for your suggestion that (quote) "...escaped falcons are unlikely to mate successfully with wild birds", how can you be sure, especially if they are both from the falco genus? In my opinion it may already be too late. Don't forget it is known to have happened in broadwings between the Redtail Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis and a Common Buzzard Buteo buteo for example.

I believe this thread has brought up many vaild comments and provided an interesting exchange of information, thoughts and ideas. To simply scoff at this in such a dismissive manner is an insult to those who have posted and does you no credit at all.

Edward woodwood
Saturday 21st February 2004, 15:29
Hi Anthony

you're pretty much correct I think. I would expect thought that if there were lots of hybrids doing the rounds they would be picked up by birders....field ID is perhaps more advanced these days then many people imagine.

I'm not altogether sure that there couldn't be a problem sometime in thew future with escaped/released birds breeding with Peregrines.....for me the chance is too great. I would like to see people stop the practise of keeping birds for their own enjoyment. Don't think legislation would make too big a dent on it as it would probably continue 'underground'.

One of the saddest things about birding in Asia is seeing all the amazing species in the bird markets there....stuff you wouldn't believe...Sibe Thrushes, Chestnut-backed Thrushes, pittas etc....Education, not legislation is the key....but that takes a long time both overseas and over here...how long will it be before keeping raptors etc is seen as unethical?

We all know deep down how a Peregrine or Saker etc should live its life don't we?

HH75
Saturday 21st February 2004, 16:32
Hi all,
I can say that I have seen many definite Peregrines,unless they were hybrids/backcrosses that showed no features inconsistent with wild Peregrines.
I'm not sure how popular falconry is over here,and I'm also not sure how prevalent the keeping of hybrid falcons is?I think that the artificial breeding of hybrid falcons is objectionable even if there were no threat to populations of wild birds,and would love to see it stamped out,but(as Tim says) know that this would carry on illegally even if outlawed.
I personally have no time for keeping birds,whether they be the typical Budgerigar/Canary,pigeons,falcons or birds taken from the wild such as those thrushes/pittas mentioned above,but realise that others derive some pleasure from this.
Harry H

HH75
Saturday 21st February 2004, 16:33
Hi Anthony,
By the way,and note that this is just something that occurred to me: what is your stance on the virtual extinction of 'pure' Rock Doves due to interbreeding with escaped racing pigeons...?
Harry H

Edward woodwood
Saturday 21st February 2004, 16:37
You've done it now Harry......

Suricate
Saturday 21st February 2004, 21:49
Hi Anthony,
By the way,and note that this is just something that occurred to me: what is your stance on the virtual extinction of 'pure' Rock Doves due to interbreeding with escaped racing pigeons...?
Harry H
Perhaps some of us ought to wear rings on our legs as we always seem to come back to the coup !! from wherever were` posted.
Suricate

nirofo
Saturday 21st February 2004, 22:13
Not the Pigeons again!

nirofo.

Anthony Morton
Sunday 22nd February 2004, 09:16
QUOTE = Harry Hussey

Hi Anthony,

By the way, and note that this is just something that occurred to me: what is your stance on the virtual extinction of 'pure' Rock Doves due to interbreeding with escaped racing pigeons...?

Harry H


Hi Harry,

Despite Tim Allwood apparently diving for cover, I feel this is a serious question which deserves an honest answer, so here goes!

In my opinion it's unfair to lay all the blame for the reduction in Rock Dove numbers on racing pigeons. Don't forget that for several centuries before pigeon racing even began large flocks of semi-domestic pigeons were kept as a food source - often in huge purpose-built pigeon houses holding over one thousand birds. They were free-flying and had to scour the local area for their food.

Undoubtedly many would have gone AWOL over the years, and either set up their own roof-top colonies or, perhaps even more to the point, joined and interbred with the wild Rock Dove population to produce what we now call the Feral Pigeon. Both these birds carry the scientific name Columba livia as you know.

Since true Racing Pigeons are all 'married' - that is they carry a uniquely numbered closed ring which is placed on their leg while they are still in the nest -they are immediately distinguishable from either the Rock Dove or the Feral Pigeon. In other words, if it 'aint got a ring on its leg, it 'aint a Racing Pigeon - irrespective of what colour it may be!

Clearly some Racing Pigeons have joined the 'Town Centre Mob' through becoming lost, although this can sometimes be only on a temporary basis. So next time you get the chance, look to see how many are true ring-carrying Racing Pigeons and how many are Feral Pigeons. You may be surprised at just how few of the former there are!

Anyway, back to my original 'Genetic Integrity' thread. As I'm not an expert, I have been looking for a way to illustrate in layman's terms how non-indigenous and captive bred hybrid falcons can, and will, affect the truly wild stock if they become either lost or escape. And now, thanks to Harry's question, I believe what has happened to the UK's original Rock Dove population illustrates a classic example of what I had in mind.

There probably isn't going to be any significant change in today's Peregrine Falcon population during our lifetime, such as size, shape and colour for example. But what sort of legacy are we perhaps leaving for future generations if we allow this situation to continue unchecked? Will they perhaps feel cheated that they have only 'mongrels' to enjoy as a result of our carelessness?

As has already been pointed out in several postings on this thread, the damage caused to the wild Peregrine Falcon population by the relatively few non-indigenous and hybrid birds already 'on the loose' in the UK is thankfully very low at present. Let's try to keep it that way!

Jane Turner
Sunday 22nd February 2004, 09:51
However Anthony... Feral/racer /fancy pigeons and Rock Doves, though different in appearance, are genetically the same species.... so like various breeds of eg dog, they can interbreed freely, as long as the females of the form concerned are attracted to the males.... resulting in "mongrels"

Peregrines, Sakers, Merlins etc are different species, so like Horses and Donkeys, they can be persuaded/forced to hybridise, but in most cases the offspring... mule... is infertile, and even if the hybrid was specatularly desireable to female horses or Donkeys, the hybrid genes would not get passed on.

Were it may get dodgy with falcons, as I said above, is with Peregrine/ Prairie/Barbary falcon... which are much closer genetically and may be in the process of speciating... hence the young may be fertile..

The issue with Ruddy ducks btw the is two fold.

1. Ruddy and White-headed duck are very very close so the hybrids appear to be fertile
2. Male Ruddies and it appear male hybrids are a huge turn on to female White-headed Ducks.. who then ignore the male White-heads, so even if they were not impregnated by a hybrid, they fail to breed with White-headed.

Hope that is clear

alcedo.atthis
Sunday 22nd February 2004, 10:17
Ahh, from genetics, to cats, dogs and speed cameras in the same post. Just shows the world-wide variety of opinion in the forum.

Malky @ Westhill

Suricate
Sunday 22nd February 2004, 15:17
However Anthony... Feral/racer /fancy pigeons and Rock Doves, though different in appearance, are genetically the same species.... so like various breeds of eg dog, they can interbreed freely, as long as the females of the form concerned are attracted to the males.... resulting in "mongrels"

Peregrines, Sakers, Merlins etc are different species, so like Horses and Donkeys, they can be persuaded/forced to hybridise, but in most cases the offspring... mule... is infertile, and even if the hybrid was specatularly desireable to female horses or Donkeys, the hybrid genes would not get passed on.

Were it may get dodgy with falcons, as I said above, is with Peregrine/ Prairie/Barbary falcon... which are much closer genetically and may be in the process of speciating... hence the young may be fertile..

The issue with Ruddy ducks btw the is two fold.

1. Ruddy and White-headed duck are very very close so the hybrids appear to be fertile
2. Male Ruddies and it appear male hybrids are a huge turn on to female White-headed Ducks.. who then ignore the male White-heads, so even if they were not impregnated by a hybrid, they fail to breed with White-headed.

Hope that is clear
Hi Jane the difference between duck species and hybridation with falcons has nothing to do with Turn ons. The duck is one of the only species (that includes man ) that resorts to rape!!
To clear up the Asinus asinus - Equus caballas debate Mules are a cross between a male donkey and a female horse Mules cannot have young.
The offspring of a female donkey and a male horse is called a Hinny.
As the falcons that are used for hybrids are All from the Falco genus there is a high chance that the offspring will be fertile. The only real hybrid that is used from the broad wings is the Ferru- tail .
Suricate

HH75
Sunday 22nd February 2004, 15:50
Hi all,
Glad to see that my posting was taken in the spirit which it was intended: contrary to how things may appear from other recent postings,I have no axe to grind against the majority of law-abiding pigeon fanciers.
Anthony: I agree that the problems regarding the effective extinction of the Rock Dove over large areas predate the keeping of racing pigeons.I have no way of proving how many 'racers' get recruited into feral populations,short of going around looking at the things(wild Rock Doves are attractive birds,and most racers aren't too bad,but feral pigeons can be manky,for want of a better word!;))
BTW,is the higher prevalence of odd colour varities in some feral populations an indication of a more recent origin/higher genetic input by racers?I notice on American TV shows that there are quite a lot of brown/piebald individuals in feral populations(of course,Rock Doves were never indigenous to North America,so there would have been no genetic input from 'pure' birds),whereas most such birds here resemble duller versions of the wild type,with either a grey or white rump.
Harry H

Anthony Morton
Sunday 22nd February 2004, 20:35
Quote Jane Turner

Peregrines, Sakers, Merlins etc are different species, so like Horses and Donkeys, they can be persuaded/forced to hybridise, but in most cases the offspring... mule... is infertile, and even if the hybrid was specatularly desireable to female horses or Donkeys, the hybrid genes would not get passed on.

Were it may get dodgy with falcons, as I said above, is with Peregrine/ Prairie/Barbary falcon... which are much closer genetically and may be in the process of speciating... hence the young may be fertile.


Hi Jane,

Have just found the following site...

http://www.wafalconry.org/about_raptors.htm

Click on 'hybrids' in second paragraph, then scroll down to 'Are hybrids infertile?'

This reads:-

"Not all hybrids are infertile. Gyr/saker crosses may be fertile, some gyr/peregrine males may be fertile with female peregrines, although not with another hybrid."

I tapped 'falconry hybrids' into Google and found this under 'About falconry raptors.' It looks to be an American site but I suppose the genetics will hold true for both sides of the Atlantic. There are also several similar sites that I haven't had time to evaluate yet.

Regards,

Anthony

Anthony Morton
Monday 23rd February 2004, 07:55
QUOTE = Harry Hussey
Glad to see that my posting was taken in the spirit which it was intended: contrary to how things may appear from other recent postings,I have no axe to grind against the majority of law-abiding pigeon fanciers.

....BTW,is the higher prevalence of odd colour varities in some feral populations an indication of a more recent origin/higher genetic input by racers?I notice on American TV shows that there are quite a lot of brown/piebald individuals in feral populations(of course,Rock Doves were never indigenous to North America,so there would have been no genetic input from 'pure' birds),whereas most such birds here resemble duller versions of the wild type,with either a grey or white rump.
Harry H

Hi Harry,

The short answer is that I haven't got a clue!

I can only guess that early settlers may have taken pigeons with them as a sustainable source of fresh meat and eggs, in exactly the same way they were used here. However America certainly imported homing pigeons from Eurpoe in the 1860's, so their feral population must date back to around then I suppose.

I'm also not sure why there is a predominance of the colour variations you mention, but I suppose the this could have come about by the ferals crossing with white fantails or similar doves.

Not much help I'm afraid.

Anthony

Sara Helena
Wednesday 25th April 2007, 20:51
I think the point of the issue raised by Mr morton has nothing to do with pigeons more a concern as the thread stated, genetic integrety.
There are in a word too many hybrid raptors being held by falconers and there are too many that escape into the wild.
You cannot improve on nature so why do people try ? The gyr falcon is the largest falcon in the world and as one contributor mentions in this thread the White morph gyr is very distinctive, yet the darker phase is somewhat similar to the prairie and peregrine falcon.
The issue of genetic integety is a serious one and although not totally linked with raptors it is the falconry birds that give the greatest threat to natural species.
The hybrid lists are long ranging from perlins- Peregrine/merlin gyr/merlin gyr/ prairie and gyr/ pere/lanner and so on !
Already there have been reports of redtail hawks breeding with buteo buteo.
We have seen the impact that non indigenous species can have, crayfish, mink, grey squirrel, coypu and zander, perhaps hybrids are not in some peoples opinion to be non indigenous but they can if allowed have an adverse affect.
Suricate.

Just feel I should tell you a bit about why the hybrid was first "invented".
One of the larger threats to wild falcons (except DDT and suchlike) were actually the arabs trapping wild falcons to the use for falconry. Sakers were the traditionall falcon that they hunted with.
To make an arab buy a captive breed falcon is far from easy. Poor pakistani bird trappers keept familys alive trough trapping wild sakers and selling them to the middle east.
Why should an arab pay a lot more money for a captive breed pure falcon (due to the cost of producing them) then they would do for a wild bird, that would also be a better hunter?
So the hybrid were produced. It turned out that by crossing for example a gyrfalcon with a peregrine falcon you got a bird who would out preform any pure speices, and also have a more spectacular color/size, and you could not obtain it from the wild!
So by producing a hybrid and get the arabs to prefer the hybrid before any wild birds the pressure on the wild population decreased dramatically, UAE even signed up to CITES on the premission that hybrids would be availible instead of wild pure falcons.
regarding the breeding with the wild birds.
A falcon is imprinted on the speices that rears it. This means that a peregrine falcon will only mate with something who strongly recembles a peregrine falcon. So a perlin would have no chanse of breeding with either a merlin or a peregrine as it does not recembles any of the two enough to attract a wild partner. Even the gyr.peregrine hybrids do not resembles pure peregrines. Infact the proven cases that has occured in the wild have always been escaped falconry birds. One peregrine female who were reared by gyr falcons mated to a gyr/peregrine reared by peregrine falcons. However the young did not survive.
So I would say the potential threat by hybrids is minimal, however they do have a strong conservation benefit.
Also breeders now make sure that no gyr/peregrine hybrids are reared by peregrines to minimaze the risk of an possible escaped gyr/peregrine male to breed with a pure peregrine female.
The female gyr/peregrines are completely infertile.

Fernando np
Monday 30th April 2007, 11:52
It looks there's no limits to the hybridisation choices among different species of falcons. Fertility is the norm. Whoever interested in this topic might read to BOYD, L. 1978. "Hybridisation of falcons by artificial insemination" Raptor Research. Working for a regional environmental agency, I'm used to falconry birds and falconers. Why crossing? Looking for a better performance, bigger size, using a cheaper mother, fashion... or even having a bird differents from the other birds. For exemple there's an hybrid I know, most part F. biarmicus, wich looks a giant kestrel. Probably hybrids are understimateed, one time some of them appears as pure breed in their documentation. A common point of view in the States about the Harry's Hawk is the species have been so modificated under human hands that it might be considered a kind of domestic animal different from the original. I disagree with this opinion.
About the situation in the wild the information is poor. I believe than the situation musn't be too worrying now and the main problem related with falconry is the stealing in the nests. Of course, a part of the tamed became lost every year. In my region when somebody tell me about gyrs or sakers, my first thought is about falconry birds lost. In winter half blood big falcons use the same kind of landscapes than hawks.

ZNG
Tuesday 1st May 2007, 21:21
I have a question about the peregrines in your countries. Was there ever a reintroduction of Peregrines after the band of DDT like in the U.S?

I don't see falconry as the problem but rather the regulations on it in the UK. In the U.S captive bred hybrid falcons are imprinted and banded by law. If I'm not mistaken UK falconers are trying to adopt some type of apprenticeship system like the U.S. The fact of the matter is that anyone in the UK can buy one of these birds without any expirence. There are people (not falconers) that just have them for pets and fly them around city parks. So what happens when those birds become more than what a unsuspecting person can handle? They get released! So some kind of training requirement or permitting system would help detour the unexpirenced.

Sara Helena
Thursday 3rd May 2007, 21:43
I have a question about the peregrines in your countries. Was there ever a reintroduction of Peregrines after the band of DDT like in the U.S?

I don't see falconry as the problem but rather the regulations on it in the UK. In the U.S captive bred hybrid falcons are imprinted and banded by law. If I'm not mistaken UK falconers are trying to adopt some type of apprenticeship system like the U.S. The fact of the matter is that anyone in the UK can buy one of these birds without any expirence. There are people (not falconers) that just have them for pets and fly them around city parks. So what happens when those birds become more than what a unsuspecting person can handle? They get released! So some kind of training requirement or permitting system would help detour the unexpirenced.

For some strange reason the UK was one of the countries that did not engage in any releasing programms of peregrines, and I dont know why. It was very sucsessfull in other countrys.
All captive breed Schedual 4 birds are monitored and rung by DEFRA (by law). There is no releasing of "problem birds" as they are worth enough money for irresponsible people to sell them instead, however I think it is well about time that the UK introduced some kind of system like the US and Germany where you have to obtain a falconry licence before you can practise falconry. It is far to easy to obtain a bird of prey, but on saying that I somtime think there should be a licence to keeping children as well!! lol

ZNG
Saturday 5th May 2007, 05:02
For some strange reason the UK was one of the countries that did not engage in any releasing programms of peregrines, and I dont know why. It was very sucsessfull in other countrys.
All captive breed Schedual 4 birds are monitored and rung by DEFRA (by law). There is no releasing of "problem birds" as they are worth enough money for irresponsible people to sell them instead, however I think it is well about time that the UK introduced some kind of system like the US and Germany where you have to obtain a falconry licence before you can practise falconry. It is far to easy to obtain a bird of prey, but on saying that I somtime think there should be a licence to keeping children as well!! lol

I agree!