African Pygmy-falcon

African Pygmy-falcon

Polihierax semitorquatus

Least Concern

The Pygmy falcon, Africa's smallest raptor, is a pint-sized predator with a striking white and rufous plumage, native to the arid regions of Eastern and Southern Africa. Despite its diminutive size, this falcon is a formidable hunter, known for its agility and sharp talons, often seen perching conspicuously on acacia branches surveying the savanna for its next meal.

Appearance and Identification

Primary Color

Grey

Primary Color (female)

Grey

Primary Color (juvenile)

Grey

Secondary Colors

White

Secondary Colors (female)

White, Rufous

Secondary Colors (juvenile)

White, Rufous

Secondary Colors (seasonal)

Wing Color

Grey

Wing Color (female)

Grey

Wing Color (juvenile)

Grey

Beak Type

Hooked

Beak Color

Grey, Black

Beak Color (female)

Grey, Black

Beak Color (juvenile)

Grey, Black

Leg Color

Yellow

Leg Color (female)

Yellow

Leg Color (juvenile)

Yellow

Distinctive Markings

White face, grey back and white flanks

Distinctive Markings (female)

Rufous on the back

Distinctive Markings (juvenile)

Similar to adults but duller and rufous wash on breast

Tail Description

Square tail with black and white barring

Tail Description (female)

Square tail with black and white barring

Tail Description (juvenile)

Square tail with black and white barring

Size Metrics

19cm to 21cm

Length

32cm to 40cm

Wingspan

60g to 80g

Weight

Photos

Click on an image below to see the full-size version

Vocalization and Sounds

Primary Calls

Chirp, whistle

Call Description

A series of chirps and high-pitched whistles

Alarm Calls

Sharp, repeated chirps

Behavior and Social Structure

Daily Activities

Hunting and perching in the early morning and late afternoon

Social Habits

Pairs or solitary, sometimes in small family groups

Territorial Behavior

Defends territory around nesting sites

Migratory Patterns

Non-migratory

Interaction with Other Species

Occasionally interacts with other species, especially around water holes

Diet

Primary Diet

Insects, Small Mammals, Reptiles

Feeding Habits

Catches prey in flight or from a perch

Feeding Times

Dawn and dusk

Prey Capture Method

Stoop from a perch or hover

Diet Variations

Opportunistic, varies with prey availability

Special Dietary Needs (if any)

None known

Nesting

Nesting Location

Tree hollows or abandoned nests of other birds, especially weaver birds

Nest Construction

Uses existing structures, occasionally adds feathers

Breeding Season

Varies by region, often after rains

Number of clutches (per breeding season)

Mainly one, sometimes two

Egg Appearance

White with red-brown spots

Egg Size

Approximately 3.2cm x 2.5cm

Clutch Characteristics

2-4 eggs per clutch

Incubation Period

About 30 days

Fledgling Period

Around 6-7 weeks

Parental Care

Both parents feed and protect the chicks

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

Eastern and Southern Africa, from Ethiopia to Tanzania and west to Angola

Habitat Description

Dry savanna, thorn scrub, and semi-desert

Elevation Range

Up to 2500 meters

Migration Patterns

Non-migratory

Biome

Savanna, Scrubland

Climate zones

Subtropical, Tropical

Distribution Map

Please note, this range and distribution map is a high-level overview, and doesn't break down into specific regions and areas of the countries.

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