Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Introducing the project and the birds

This is a blog where we will be posting maps of two nestling sooty falcons that we fitted with satellite received transmitters (PTTs) in Oman in 2010. The satellite tracking is part of a larger effort that has been running for 4 years on Oman. The goals of that effort were to:

  • better understand the status of sooty falcon in Oman;
  • better understand the ecology of sooty falcons in Oman;
  • establish a monitoring scheme for sooty falcons in Oman;
  • provide training opportunities to Omanis and others to enhance local capacity.

The four-year field work has been made possible through contributions by Natural Research, Ltd, ministries and agencies of the Oman government, Petroleum Development Oman, the Ford Foundation, Sultan Qaboos University, and the Environment Society of Oman.

The satellite radio tracking project is a joint effort of Natural Research Ltd. and global concepts for conservation. The project was financially supported by Microwave Telemetry Inc., University of Ulm, global concepts for conservation and Natural Research Ltd. Permissions were granted by ministries and agencies of the Oman government.

On 2 and 3 October 2010 we fitted satellite transmitters to two near-fledging sooty falcons on Fahal Island, Oman. At this very moment the birds are still in their nest sites, which are roofed ledges. This means that currently no satellite signals are being heard and so we have no maps to show. When fitting the birds with the transmitters we named the birds "Sinbad" and "Sheba". It must be said that one can not be 100% sure of the sex of the birds, so we don't know whether Sinbad is a male and Sheba is a girl.


Sinbad was fitted with a satellite transmitter on 2 October. His tag ID number is 94498. Sinbad is the offspring of a female sooty falcon that has nested in this territory on Fahal Island for at least the past three years. Sinbad had one sibling. The picture to the right is of Sinbad hiding behind his sibling, who seems to be giving us a piece of her mind. You can see on both birds the metal numbered ring and the green plastic microchip ring that allow us to identify these birds in the future. Such marking is an important tool in understanding longevity, migration routes, and details of the population including whether or not it is stable.


Sheeba was fitted with a satellite transmitter on 3 October on Fahal Island. Her tag ID is 94499. Sheeba has a single sibling. Sheeba's mother is a third year bird that bred for the first time in 2010, and who was reared as a chick on Fahal. The picture to the right is Sheeba's mother. You can see that this bird is not very old because it still has a "moustache" (dark areas under the eyes), and a light coloured chin.

Despite their names, we don't really know the sex of these birds. Currently there is no way we can distinguish the two sexes, but maybe after some more research we will find a way. Of course we may find out someday if we find them breeding.


  1. This is very exciting!! I am so pleased that more work is being done on the Omani population of sooty falcons. Great work, Marion and Mike!!
    Hartmut in Los Angeles.

  2. Hi Hartmut... Hope to submit something on productivity this year. We now have four years of data