If you’ve ever seen a bird in the sky and thought that it was the most beautiful sight you have ever seen, there’s a good chance that what you saw was a falcon. These majestic birds of prey are known for their precision and speed and are faster than any other animal on earth, both on land and in the air.
If that alone has inspired you to learn more about falcons, wait until you read the information we’ve gathered for you. Whether you are an expert or a novice, the world of fantastic falcons will blow your mind.
We will start with the basics and work our way to specific details, traits, names, regions, and everything in between. No worries. There will not be a test at the end, only pure enjoyment. Get ready to discover a magical aerial world as you see it through the eyes of a falcon!
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What Is A Falcon?
Before flying straight into the magical details of falcons, let’s cover the basics to get a better foundation of what they are.
Falcons are a type of bird of prey. They belong to the Falconidae family, which comprises several species of birds.
More specifically, they are the members of the subfamily or genus, Falco. These include Falcons, Kestrels, and Hobbies.
Though they tend to be smaller in stature than hawks, eagles, and owl species, falcons are considered large and powerful birds. They have sharp, curved beaks, pointy talons, and eyesight that is eight times better than that of humans.
Their wings are tapered with sharply pointed tips, allowing them to fly very fast and dive at incredible speeds to grab their prey. The female, as with most birds of prey, is larger and bolder of the sexes.
What makes falcons different from other preying birds is their hunting behavior, beak shape, slender bodies, taxonomic classification, and undeniable speed.
Now that you know the basics of what a falcon is, let’s dive a little deeper.
The Different Falcon Species
There are an estimated 40 species of falcons soaring through the earth’s sky on all continents, and six of those types of falcons are found in the United States.
Antarctica is the one continent where you will not find these magnificent creatures. Though, closely related raptors have been spotted there. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a falcon.
25+ Falcon Species: Your Comprehensive Guide
Without further ado, let us journey to the skies and discover the wondrous world of falcons.
1. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
The peregrine falcon is our first bird due to its worldwide recognition. It is found on six out of the seven continents. Peregrine falcons are roughly 1.5 feet (0.45 m) tall with a wingspan of 3.5 feet (1.06 m) and can weigh between 1 and 3.5 pounds (0.45 kg and 1.58 kg). Scientists have clocked this falcon diving up to 200 miles (321.86 km) per hour.
The wings and tail are bluish-gray, while the back and head are darker. Sometimes the cheeks can have a dark brown tear-shaped mark. The bird’s chin and neck are white, and each eye is surrounded by a yellow circle. Dark-brown bars run across its white chest. When the wings are open, dark brown bars across the wings are also visible.
They travel long distances but can be migratory or non-migratory. Some live in Alaska, the Midwest, the Northeast, the Southwest, and along the western coastline year-round. Peregrine falcons may live in the open country, cliffs, open tundras, desert mountains, and often seen near water.
Don’t be surprised if you see one of these popular birds on your way to the mall. Limited availability of nest sites and prey sometimes force peregrine falcons to move into cities, nesting on building ledges and feeding on pigeons.
2. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
The ye olde common kestrel has made it to second place on our list. This common bird of prey is also referred to as the European Kestrel, Eurasian Kestrel, or Old World Kestrel. In Britain, it is known as simply the kestrel. It is widespread in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the east coast of North America.
From head to tail, common kestrels measure between 13 and 15 inches (33.02 cm and 38.1 cm) with a wingspan between 26 and 32 inches (66.04 cm and 81.28cm). The smallest one of its kind has been weighed at 5 oz (141.74 g) with the largest one at 11 oz (311.84g).
Their plumage is mainly light chestnut brown with blackish spots on the upperside and buff with narrow blackish streaks on the underside. Unlike most hawks, they display sexual color dimorphism (difference between male and female). All Common Kestrels have a prominent black malar stripe.
The cere (soft skin surrounding the nostrils), feet, and a narrow ring around the eye are bright yellow. The talons, bill, and iris are dark. Juveniles look like adult females, but the underside streaks are wider and the yellow of their bare parts is paler. Hatchlings are covered in white down feathers.
As long as there is sufficient vegetation, the common kestrel will be right at home. They can be found in wetlands, moorlands, savannas, from sea to low mountain ranges, and human settlements. They are primarily sedentary but will migrate south in winter.
3. Merlin (Falco columbarius)
Number three is none other than merlin. No, not the wizard. The bird.
You can tell them apart from other larger falcons by their small size, but they are broader and stockier than the Common Kestrel. Merlins have sharp, pointed wings, a broad chest with dark and streaky tones. Females tend to be darker.
The merlin can be between 9 and 13 inches (22.86 cm and 33.02 cm) with its wingspan between 20 and 29 inches (50.8cm and 73.66cm). Males tend to weigh 5.8 oz (164.42 g), while females reach a whopping 8.1 oz (229.63 g).
Be warned that merlins take over old nests of other raptors, magpies, or crows. So, be careful where you set up shop as you may find yourself without a nest to call your own.
You can spot merlins in forested openings, edges, along rivers, in towns and cities across North America. During winter migration, you can find them in grasslands and almost anywhere with flocks of small songbirds or shorebirds. They’re typically seen hovering with their pointy wings completely expanded.
4. Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug)
Saker falcons breed from central Europe eastwards across Asia. They are mainly migratory except in the southernmost parts of their range, wintering in parts of Africa, the Arabian peninsula, northern Pakistan, and western China.
Saker falcons are large, powerful, falcons with pale heads, a thin mustache, with tails that extend beyond wingtips at rest. While in flight, the wings are broad, with dark underwing coverts. Saker falcons tend to have variable plumage. Males and females are similar, except in size, as are young birds, although these tend to be darker and more heavily streaked.
The saker falcon male can weigh between 26 to 35 oz (737.08 g to 992.23 g) and females 34 to 46 oz (963.88 g to 1,304.08g).
If you find yourself in open grasslands with rocky areas and cliffs or in gallery forests, don’t be surprised if a saker is nearby. It often nests within a colony of herons known as heronries. You can find one feasting on small mammals especially ground squirrels and birds.
5. Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)
The gyrfalcon, also known as gyr, is the largest falcon species in the world. It breeds on Arctic coasts and tundra, as well as islands of northern North America and the Eurosiberian region. It nests on remote cliffs in the far reaches of Canada and Alaska. They are rare winter visitors to open habitats in the northern United States.
Reaching two feet (0.60 m) in length and between 1.5 and 4.6 pounds (0.68 kg and 2.08 kg), the gyrfalcon’s plumage and coloration are very variable and can be classified as white, silver, brown, or black. The brown coloring on gyrfalcons is distinguished from the peregrine falcon by the cream streaking on the nape and crown, as well as by the absence of a well-defined (cheek) stripe and cap.
There is no difference in coloring between males and females. Juveniles are darker and browner than corresponding adults on average. Should you encounter one of these ghostly spirits consider yourself lucky and try to take a photo.
6. Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)
The lanner falcon is found in habitats from flat, dry areas near sea level to wet, forested mountains as high as 16,000 feet (4,876.8 m). They require large open or lightly wooded hunting areas, as well as rocky formations such as cliffs for nesting. They are also known to nest in trees, abandoned structures, and near the ground in desert areas.
The lanner falcon is slightly smaller and more slender than Saker Falcon. Adults are grayer than saker falcons and have a paler cap. Juveniles are extremely similar to sakers and peregrines. Compared to saker juvenile lanners have unstreaked trousers. Compared to peregrine, juvenile lanners are more heavily streaked on the underwings and underparts.
Reaching between 16 and almost 20 inches (40.64 cm and 50.8 cm) in length, its wingspan can reach up to 41 inches (104.14 cm). That’d be one sight to see in person.
When you find yourself exploring Africa, southeast Europe, and Asia, be on the lookout for these majestic birds. After the breeding season, you may find that they disperse more widely. Most commonly seen in open country and savannas.
7. American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
Welcome once again to the kestrel family of falcons. The American kestrel is a small and slender bird whose shape resembles that of a mourning dove.
It has narrow wings and a long square-tipped tail. It measures between 8 and 12 inches (20.32 cm and 30.48 cm) in length and can weigh between 2 and 6 ounces (56.69 g and 170.09g ). Its wingspan can reach between 20 and 24 inches (50.8cm and 60.96 cm).
These particular birds are pale when seen from below and warm, rusty brown spotted, with a black band near the tip of the tail. Males have slate-blue wings and the female’s wings are reddish-brown. Both sexes have pairs of black vertical slashes on the sides of their faces, sometimes called a mustache and a sideburn.
American Kestrels occupy habitats ranging from deserts and grasslands to alpine meadows. You’re most likely to see them perching on telephone wires along roadsides, in an open country with short vegetation and few trees.
8. Black Falcon (Falco subniger)
Yet another impressive bird, the black falcon has broad shoulders, feathered legs, and long, pointed wings. Overall, they are very dark, ranging from sooty black to dark chocolate -brown. Paler individuals may have a whitish chin, inconspicuous malar stripes, paler cheeks, and speckles on the beast.
The eyes and cere are brown, the eye-ring is a pale blue-grey, and the feet and legs are pale grey to dirty white. The underwings are lighter and in older birds have white spots. Juveniles are darker than adults, without any white marks around the head, but have narrow rufous fringes to the dorsal feathers.
An adult black falcon can reach up to 22 inches (55.88 cm) with its tail making up about half of that. Females can weigh almost two pounds (0.90 kg) and males just over one pound (0.45 kg). Wingspan can reach up to 45 inches (114.3 cm). That’s almost four feet (1.21m)!
It favors open environments in Australia like the sparse woodlands and scrubby grasslands but also frequents farmlands in South Australia.
9. Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides)
The Barbary falcon should not be confused with the peregrine falcon. Pay attention as the details and differences between the two can determine how smart you sound to your friends when identifying one of these.
Compared to the peregrine, the barbary is smaller, 15 inches (38.1 cm) at its longest length with a wingspan between 29 and 38 inches (73.66 cm and 96.52cm). Their weight can be less than one pound (0.45 kg) to roughly 1.65 pounds (0.74 kg) for females.
They have paler grey-blue upperparts than the peregrine, and often have a buff wash to the barred underparts. The back of the neck is rufous, but this is difficult to see. Males and females look alike, apart from their size, but the young birds have brown upperparts and streaked underparts.
The Barbary falcon’s primary home is in the Canary Islands and on the coasts of North Africa, but they have been known to hunker down in the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Central Asia, south and south-east of Kazakhstan from Talasskogo Alatau to Tarbagatai or even the Southern Altai. This is a bird of semi-desert and dry open hills.
10. Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
Eurasian species is a long-distance migrant but is seen in Africa, Europe, and Asia. It inhabits open woodlands, forests, river edges, wooded savannahs, and a few urban environments.
They are slate-grey above with a dark crown and two short black mustache-type stripes. The throat is white, thighs and under tail are unstreaked rufous and the rest of their underparts are whitish with black streaks. Sexes are similar. Juveniles are generally much browner, with scaled upperparts and streaked buffy thighs, and under tail coverts.
This falcon is 11 to 14 inches (27.94 cm to 35.56 cm) in length with a wingspan of 29 to 33 inches (73.66 cm to 83.82 cm) and a weight of 6.2 to 10.1 ounces (175.76g to 286.33g). Being so lightweight is what gives most birds the ability to fly as magically as they do.
11. Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis)
The female bat falcon can reach a foot in length while the male is right around 9 inches (22.86cm). Depending on if it’s a male or female this dark knight can weigh between 3.8 and 8.5 ounces (107.72 g and 240.97 g).
Adults have a black back, head, and tail. The throat, upper breast, and neck sides are creamy white. The lower breast and belly are black, finely barred white, and the thighs and lower belly are orange.
This falcon is a resident breeder in tropical Mexico, Central and South America, and Trinidad. Its name is derived from its main prey. Yes, the bat. It is a small and dark bird of prey that inhabits open woodlands and forest clearings. But don’t get your knickers in a knot if you find one of these along a forest edge or riverbanks and streams.
Like most birds of prey, the bat falcon is a patient stalker. Its solitary lifestyle and captivating features make this bird very alluring. Batman doesn’t have anything on this guy!
12. Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)
The name prairie falcon may have a gentle sound to it, but don’t let that fool you. They are, rightfully, vicious and relentless.
Prairie falcons are brown and pale with brown markings on the breast and belly. From below, they show dark under the wing from the “armpit” to the wrist. From above, the tail is paler and contrasts with the back and wings. They have a pale stripe above the eye and a brown mustache stripe.
On average, they reach sizes of 16 inches (40.64 cm) in length, with a wingspan of approximately 40 inches (101.6 cm), and an average weight of 1.6 pounds (0.52 kg).
They occur in wide-open habitats of the West, including sagebrush, desert, prairie, agricultural fields, and alpine meadows up to about 11,000 feet (3,352.8 m) in elevation. You can find them nesting on ledges on sheer rocky cliffs.
Prairie Falcons shift habitats periodically throughout the year, and some may migrate long distances. When prey is short, they head to higher elevations, where snowmelt prolongs the growing season. In late fall, some birds return to the shrub-steppe, and many spend the winter in open fields and agricultural areas, taking advantage of the flocking birds that winter there. Some also move short distances south and east during the winter.
13. Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis)
Falcons come in all shapes and sizes and the amur falcon is another proof of this fact. It has a wingspan of 24 to 27 inches (60.96 cm to 68.58cm) and weighs about 0.26 pounds (0.11 kg). The male is a dark, sooty grey, with brownish-red thighs. When flying, a white lining of the male’s wings stands out against the sooty grey.
Females have a pattern common among many falcon species, with a dark-spotted chest against a white background, and a darker, grey back. A distinctive feature of both the male and female is the orange of the eye-ring, beak base, and feet.
This average size bird is a migratory raptor whose voyage takes it from its breeding grounds in Russia and China to winter in southern Africa. In Asia, the Amur falcon can be found around the Amur River region. In southeastern Russia, northern China, eastern Mongolia, and sometimes all the way east to the Korean peninsula.
During migration, amur falcons have been spotted in eastern and southern Asia, including China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan, and India.
14. Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
The lesser kestrel is so adorable you might want to snuggle one, but please don’t. They’re still a bird of prey and won’t hesitate to attack. It is a small bird of prey at 10.6 to 12.9 inches (26.92 cm to 32.76 cm) in length with a 24 to 28 inch (60.96 cm to 71.12 cm) wingspan. It looks very much like the larger Common Kestrel but has proportionally shorter wings and tail.
The male has a grey head and tail like the male common kestrel but lacks the dark spotting on the back, the black Malar Stripe, and has grey patches in the wings. The female and young birds are slightly paler than their relative but are so similar that call and structure are better guides than plumage. Both sexes do not have the typical dark talons. Those of this species are a peculiar whitish-horn color.
It nests colonially on buildings, cliffs, or in tree cavities, laying up to 3-6 eggs. No nest structure is built, which is typical for falcons.
The Lesser Kestrel frequents dry, warm, semi-desert areas with scattered vegetation, as well as pastures and cultivated fields. It may occur on monuments and old buildings in urban areas.
This species is usually found in flat or undulating lowlands, but it often breeds at roughly 4,900 feet (1,493.52m) of elevation in Asia.
It frequents the same type of habitats in winter and during migrations. They gather in large numbers at communal roosts, in old constructions or trees.
15. Brown Falcon (Falco berigora)
No, the brown falcon isn’t completely brown, but it’s a good place to start when learning to identify one. Brown Falcons are also known as cackling hawks, orange-speckled hawks, striped brown hawks, striped hawks, western hawks, or white-breasted hawks.
It’s a large-headed falcon with variable brownish plumage ranging from dark chocolate brown to reddish, to tan. All have a dark mustache mark, long unfeathered lower legs, and a finely barred tail. It’s about 16.1 to 20.1 inches (40.89cm to 51.05 cm) in length. An adult falcon weighs around 1.3 pounds (51.05 kg).
They have a wide range in Australia, where they are amongst the most common naturally occurring species of raptor. You can find them throughout Australia ranging south to the island of Tasmania. Vagrants migrate north over the Torres Strait Islands to New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago.
They mostly occur in open, unforested, grassy, and agricultural areas, as well as in scrub and savanna with scattered trees or structures for perching. They come in dark and pale plumage forms – the pale-plumaged birds are usually associated with inland areas, while the others are scattered throughout the range.
16. Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis)
The aplomado falcon is also known as the northern aplomado falcon. It can reach a length between 14 and 18 inches (35.56 cm and 45.72 cm) with a wingspan of 2.5 to 3 feet (0.76 m to 0.91 m) and weighs anywhere between 6 to 14 ounces ( 170.09 g to 396.89 g).
This bird has a steel grey back, a red breast, black “sash” on its belly, and striking black markings on the top of its head, around its eyes, and extending down its face. Aplomado falcons are most often seen in pairs. They use stick nests built by other birds.
Aplomados can be found in grasslands, savannahs, and marshes. In Brazil, it’s commonly observed in some large cities, such as São Paulo. It ranges from northern Mexico and Trinidad locally to southern South America but has been extirpated from many places in its range, including all of northern and central Mexico except for a small area of Chihuahua.
17. New Zealand Falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae)
New Zealand has a lot of attractive qualities, and one of those qualities is its falcon.
This bird is described as having a streaky cream-and-brown breast, a reddish-brown coloring under its tail, long pointed wings, and a long rounded tail.
The New Zealand falcon has a body size of around 16 to 20 inches (40.64 cm to 50.8 cm) and a wingspan between 25 and 39 inches (63.5 cm and 99.06 cm). It can weigh about 16 ounces (453.59 g).
Can you guess where it’s found? You guessed it. None other than New Zealand! They’re easily spotted in native bush, pine plantations, tussock lands, and roughly grazed hill country pasture. In most of these areas, they either lay their eggs into a small scrape in the dirt on the ground or small bluffs. However, in podocarp forests, they nest in the epiphytic plants found growing in large emergent trees.
18. Grey Falcon (Falco hypoleucos)
The grey falcon shouldn’t be mistaken for the gyrfalcon. They are also known as Blue Hawks or Smoke Hawks, which are rare medium-sized Australian falcons. They are only found at very low densities in Australia and Tasmania. Some, however, have been reported in New Guinea.
This falcon species has a bright orange-yellow cere, white underpants and a uniform light grey upperparts for adults, and black shade for younger ones thus forming dark wing tips.
They usually inhabit inland drainage systems, where they frequent timbered lowland plains, favoring acacia shrublands cross by tree-lined watercourses. They generally avoid desert. In Tasmania, they are mostly found in forests.
Grey Falcons measure about 12 to 18 inches (30.48 cm to 45.72 cm) in length, including the tail, and have a wingspan of 33.5 to 38.2 inches (85.09 cm to 97.02 cm). They have been weighed between 2.34 and 21.16 ounces (66.33 g and 599.87 g). Talk about a wide range.
19. Red-necked Falcon (Falco chicquera)
I bet by its name alone, you’ve already guessed what its neck color is. And you’re correct! The red-necked falcon’s neck is red.
A rather small bird with a rufous crown, nape, and mustache stripe. A wide yellow eye ring is quite distinct. Its upperparts are pale gray, and fine barring adorns its white underparts, which are sometimes spread with gray.
Its length can reach between 11 and 14 inches (27.94 cm and 35.56 cm) with a wingspan between 21 and 27 inches (53.34 cm and 68.58 cm). They’ve weighed anywhere between 0.30 and 0.67 pounds (0.13 kg and 0.30 kg), never reaching a pound or more.
It has isolated populations in both India and sub-Saharan Africa, absent from much of the DRC and West Africa. In southern Africa, it is generally uncommon in patches of Namibia, Botswana, northern Zimbabwe, northwest South Africa, and central Mozambique.
It generally prefers open savanna woodland, but it also occurs in Hyphaene palm savanna. The Red-necked Falcon is generally seen living in semi-desert, palm savannahs, open areas with sparse vegetation and scattered large trees, watercourses in desert, flood and coastal plains, and forest edges.
20. Banded Kestrel (Falco zoniventris)
Watch out for the banded kestrel. You never know what it may have up its feathers. This half-a-pound Madagascar native can reach almost a foot in length with a wingspan of up to 26 inches (66.04 cm).
It’s marked more like a small hawk, with a gray back and a barred belly. This species is also known for having grey upperpants, whitish underparts, and yellow eyes, feet and cere.
It is found from sea level up to 6,560 feet(1,999.48 m) of elevation. It frequents clearings and forest edges and favors the southern spiny forest. It hunts from its perch and the ground and typically feeds on any type of lizards, large insects, and small birds.
21. Seychelles Kestrel (Falco araeus)
The seychelles kestrel is the smallest of the kestrels at 7 to 9 inches (17.78 cm to 22.86) long with a wingspan of 15 to 17 inches (38.1 cm to 43.18 cm). Females are similar to the males in appearance but are a little larger and paler. Immature birds have a brown, streaked head, spots on the breast, and a buff tip to the tail.
The male’s upperparts are reddish-brown with black spots while the underparts are unspotted and buff. The head and rump are dark blue-grey. The tail is blue-grey with black bars. The bill is dark and the feet and cere are yellow.
Seychelles kestrel occurs in the Seychelles archipelago. It is present on several islands but in small numbers. It makes its habitats in scrubs, forests, woodlands, farmlands, and even in coconut plantations.
21. Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor)
Reaching a length between 12 and 14 inches (30.48 cm and 35.56 cm), its wingspan reaches 30 to 35 inches (76.2 cm to 88.9 cm) and weighs just a little over eight ounces (226.79 g).
The sooty falcon is a slim, long-winged, long-tailed falcon that is built for long-distance migration. Adults are all gray, while juveniles have pale, spotted underparts.
This species breeds on islands and coastal or desert cliffs in northeast Africa from Libya to Israel and the Red Sea. It is a long-distance migrant, wintering in east Africa and south to Madagascar. It is rare north of its breeding range.
23. Australian Hobby (Falco longipennis)
Another fierce Aussie coming your way. The Australian hobby is one of the smallest Australianraptors measuring about 11 to 14 inches (27.94-cm to 35.56 cm) in length, including the tail.
It’s slim with a long, square-cut tail, and blunt wingtips. Black hood, blueish, grey upper wings, and a fawn front with black streaks.
It is easily confused with the similar Peregrine Falcon, however, might be identified by its smaller size and darker plumage. Mostly native to Australia, but they may migrate to Indonesia and New Guinea for the winter. They inhabit open woodlands.
24. Orange-breasted Falcon (Falco deiroleucus)
The orange-breasted falcon is, without question, a bird to marvel at. These falcons can often be observed soaring and hunting over the rainforest and near large cliffs, which is where they most often nest. Though a few reports exist of orange-breasted falcons nesting in epiphytes or tree cavities, these stunning falcons most often nest on cliff ledges and crevices.
This species has a similar plumage to bat falcon but with bulkier proportion, larger head and more contrast between orange upper breast and white throat
Historically, their range may have been from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. Today, they occupy just four percent of their former range in Central America where a small population of fewer than 40 pairs persists in areas of Belize, Guatemala, and Panama.
It is a medium-sized falcon at 14 to 15.5 inches (35.56 cm to 39.37 cm) long and weighs between 11 ounces to 1 pound and 9 ounces (325–700 grams ).
25. Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides)
So many fascinating birds with interesting names. This takes us to number 25 on our list. The nankeen kestrel of Australia! This slim falcon is 11 to 14 inches (27.94 to 35.56 cm) long with a wingspan of 26 to 31 inches (66.04 cm to 78.74 cm). The male weighs 4.3 to 6.9 oz (121.90g to 195.61 g) while the female weighs 4.1 to 9.6 oz ( 116.23g to 272.15g).
The Nankeen Kestrel is a slender falcon and is a relatively small raptor (bird of prey). The upperparts are mostly rufous, with some dark streaking. The wings are tipped with black. The underparts are pale buff, streaked with black, and the under tail is finely barred with black, with a broader black band towards the tip.
Nankeen Kestrels are found in most areas of Australia and are also found on islands along Australia’s coastline, as well as New Guinea and Indonesia. Their preferred habitats are lightly wooded areas and open agricultural regions and tend to be absent from dense forests. Some Nankeen Kestrels are partially migratory, others disperse in response to the availability of food and some are largely resident.
Honorable Mentions for Falcon Species
26. Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus)
27. Taita Falcon (Falco fasciinucha)
28. Greater Kestrel (Falco rupicoloides)
29. Spotted Kestrel (Falco moluccensis)
30. Grey Kestrel (Falco ardosiaceus)
31. Oriental Hobby (Falco severus)
32. African Hobby (Falco cuvierii)
33. Malagasy Kestrel (Falco newtoni)
34. Dickinson’s Kestrel (Falco dickinsoni)
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Falcon Life Cycle
As with most birds on earth, falcons begin their life journey as an egg. Clutches of eggs are laid two to five at a time and are mostly white, but some are speckled with reddish-brown.
Eggs are incubated for 29 to 33 days, mainly by the female. In some falcon species, it is not rare for the male to help with incubation during the day, but in general, only the female incubates them at night.
After hatching, the nestlings stay in the nest for 35 to 42 days before they are ready to fledge. After fledging, the young birds continue to rely on their parents for another 4 to 6 weeks for food and to master the flying and hunting skills they need to survive.
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What Do Falcons Eat
Falcons usually hunt at dawn or dusk, using their keen eyesight and powerful talons to catch their prey.
A falcon’s diet primarily consists of small critters such as squirrels, rabbits, rats, gophers, eggs, snakes, pigeons, ducks, or quails.
Falcons can be opportunistic feeders. Meaning that a lot of these birds of prey will also feast on carrion such as deer or rabbits.
Their diet is influenced by their region and what’s available. They have been known to take down geese, foxes, and smaller birds. They are meat eaters and will never consume plants.
Their sharp talons and strong beak help them seamlessly tear through their meals. On average, falcons will eat 10 percent of their body weight per day but can eat up to ⅓ of their body weight.
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Fun Facts About Falcons
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Environmental Threats to Falcons
Though not all falcons are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, most of them are still protected species and are monitored under the Endangered Species Act.
Their major threats include the overpopulation of humans, habitat destruction, pesticide poisoning, shooting, and the taking of eggs and young.
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Falcons have been utilized in many books, movies, and sports to carry powerful meanings. They symbolize ambition, aspiration, superiority, dominance, freedom, and victory. They represent the fight against our fears as well as a metaphor for clear vision. In some cultures, they are associated with the sun and stand for its light and positive energy.
In Christian symbolism, the wild falcon represents the unconverted, materialistic soul and its sinful thoughts and deeds. In the Native American culture, they are an emblem of power, strength, and courage. In the Cheyenne people, the falcon meaning is of protection, sheltering the people from the ill-intended and is also an omen of danger.
Looking up is a great reminder that the sky isn’t just the sky, it is part of a magical ecosystem that’s home to these magnificent birds of prey known as falcons.