Hole Digging for Prairie Falcons - SFA Crew Nest Restoration





Raptor Conservation is a high priority for the Saskatchewan Falconry Association.

Bob Rafuse digging a new
nest for prairie falcons
Bob Rafuse digs a new nest for prairie falcons

The following article regarding Raptor Conservation in Saskatchewan was written by Lynn Oliphant
Falconry can be defined as the pursuit and/or taking of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained raptor. On November 16, 2010 the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added falconry to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity. Falconry is a legal means of hunting throughout most of the world. In North America falconers are represented by the North American Falconry Association and internationally by the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey. Hunting with trained raptors and their capture from the wild for this purpose is recognized by the vast majority of states and provinces.

North American map showiing falconry and wild take
Saskatchewan falconers have a long history of active conservation relating to birds of prey and have enjoyed a long and good working relationship with SERM. Falconry has been practised in Saskatchewan for well over half a century and the Saskatchewan Falconry Association is the oldest falconry club still extant in North America. Falconry is recognized in provincial legislation as a legitimate method of hunting. This ancient art is very demanding and requires serious dedication of time and energy from the falconer.

Canadian GeographicRichard Fyfe started the club in 1956 and went on to lead the effort to provide for provincial protection for raptors and later lead the Peregrine breeding and release program of the CWS. The club has continued to be active in promoting awareness of birds of prey, and conservation efforts including raptor rehabilitation, surveys of breeding raptors, one of the first successes in breeding large falcons in captivity and the production, in association with SERM and the University of Saskatchewan, of some 500 peregrine falcons for reintroduction into the wild.

Nairn Gilles on the cliff top over the nest hole dug by Bob Rafuse (above) which now has a brood of Prairie Falcons in residence -(mouse over to zoom in)

Cliff over nest hole with brood of chicks

Dale Guthormsen hard at work restoring another nest hole
Restoration of a nest holeNest Holes for Prairie Falcons
One of our flagship conservation efforts has been the digging of nest holes for Prairie Falcons which began in 1969 in the Big Muddy when it was realized that nest sites were probably the primary factor limiting breeding pairs. This project has since been expanded to other areas of the breeding range and has proven very successful as old sites continue to slump. The SFA has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with SERM and to our knowledge there has never been a falconry related charge. There are many studies that show that falconry not only has no negative effect on wild populations, but that falconers and falconry have contributed substantially to the well-being of wild populations (see appended Bibliography).

Peregrine Falcon Nest Boxes - Industrial Sites - built by Simon Skerton
Pictures are of the two boxes on our coke structure, for additional detail these boxes would be approximately 210 feet from grade and this was at one time Saskatchewan’s tallest free standing structure . The goal was to supply as many options for the birds as possible, this is why we placed four in the area, plan is, we will later take down nest boxes that are not utilized.


*Brohn, A. 1986. Report of the SubCommittee on Falconry Rules. International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Washington D.C. 7pp. mimeo. *Cade, T.J. and W. Burnham. 2003. Return of the Peregrine. 394 pp. *Cade, T.J. et. al. 1988. Peregrine Falcon Populations: Their Management and Recovery. The Peregrine Fund. *Conway, C.J., S.H. Anderson, D.E. Runde, and D. Abbate. 1995. Effects of experimental nestling harvest on prairie falcons. Journal of Wildlife Management 59:311–316. *Duncan, P., and D.A. Kirk. 1995. Status report in the Queen Charlotte Goshawk Accipiter gentiles laingi and the Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentiles atricapillus in Canada. Committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada, Ottawa. *Farmer, C.J., L.J. Goodrich, E. Ruelas Inzunza, and J.P. Smith. 2008. Conservation status of North America's birds of prey. Pp. 303-419 in K.L. Bildstein, J.P. Smith, E. Ruelas Inzunza, and R.R. Veit (eds.), State of North America's birds of prey. Nuttall Ornithological Club, Cambridge, MA, and American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. *HMANA 2011, Hawk Migration Association of North America 2011 P.O. Box 721, Plymouth, NH 03264 accessed on March19, 2011 *Kenward, R.E. 1986. Inferring sustainable yields for some European raptor populations, in Proceedings of Raptor Research Foundation Conference. *Kirk, D. A. 1995. Forest Management and the Northern Goshawk (Accipter gentiles) with Special Reference to Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Central Region Science and Technology Unit, North Bay.