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Gyrfalcon chick
Photo: Golli. A gyrfalcon chick.

Cameras to Protect Gyrfalcon Nests

Nearly 20 cameras will be set up in falcon nesting areas in North Iceland to ward off would-be egg thieves, RÚV reports. Though gyrfalcons have been a protected species in Iceland since 1950, the Icelandic Gyrfalcon Centre reports that “nest predation” by humans, who steal eggs to sell them abroad, continues to be a problem.

The Icelandic Gyrfalcon Centre started limited camera surveillance of nests last year. The cameras went up later in the season, however, after egg-laying had already started. Now the centre aims to put up the cameras before egg-laying starts in mid-April to ward off even the earliest thieves. Ten of the cameras are on loan from an Austrian falcon enthusiast who wanted to help the centre due to his concern for Iceland’s falcon population. The other eight belong to the Gyrfalcon Centre.

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The surveillance is run in close collaboration with gyrfalcon specialist Ólafur K. Nielsen, who has been monitoring Iceland’s falcon population since 1981. Ólafur says last year was particularly productive for breeding among the birds, largely thanks to a rise in ptarmigan stocks, the falcon’s main source of food. Indications point to 2019 being good – and additional surveillance certainly won’t do any harm.

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