[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Falco rufigularis | [authority] Daudin, 1800 | [UK] Bat Falcon | [FR] Faucon des chauves-souris | [DE] Fledermaus-Falke | [ES] Milano Murcielaguero | [NL] Vleermuisvalk
Members of the genus falco are mostly medium-sized falcons, but vary from the large peregrine falcon to the small American kestrel. The wings are long and pointed and used almost continuously during flight. The bill is short, powerful, and with a distinct ‘tooth’ on each side. Most falcons of this group have a black teardrop-shaped ‘mustache’ mark on each side of the head. Falcons are fastflying birds of open country and are famous for attaining high speeds as they dive from high altitudes to knock birds out of the air.
Bat falcon adult males measure 24-29 cm in length with a wingspan of 56-58 cm. Females also range from 24-29 cm in length but have a larger wingspan, which ranges between 65 and 67 cm in length. The head and upper parts of their body are black, with greyish edging to contour the feathers from their upper back to tail coverts. Their throat and upper chest is white and tan extending to their neck. They have a long black tail with many fine white or grey stripes, and buff tip. The bat falcon has deep brown irises that may help camouflage while hunting at night. They also have small hooked beaks that allow the bat falcon to easily tear its meat.
Listen to the sound of Bat Falcon
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
recorded by Juan Mazar Barnett
Latin America : North Mexico to Northeast Argentina
Bat falcons inhabit the tropical rain forests. Though they occur in unbroken forests, bat falcons seem to be able to adjust to human disturbance and are sometimes found to be more common in broken forest, which includes disturbed area, forest edge, road cuts, riverbanks, or cleared agricultural land with scattered trees.
Bat falcons are considered a solitary raptor. An important part of bat falcon’s time is spent hunting. This type of behavior is a sign of their predator nature. Bat falcons primarily communicate through visual and vocal ways, often calling back and forth to their mate during breeding season. Courtship for the bat falcon begins in February or March, which is the middle of the dry season in Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. In Trinidad, nesting begins in February, and in Colombia, breeding begins in February or March. In Venezuela, the bat falcon lays its eggs in March and in Guyana, in April. In Brazil, it will lay its eggs in August, the middle of dry season. Both parent will take an active role in protecting the nest, which may include chasing off other raptors. The male provides nearly all of the food during the nestling period. The bat falcon appears to have adapted to its habitat and nests in natural tree cavities or holes abandoned by parrots, in old trogon nests in termite colonies, or on cliffs, also on pre-Colombian ruins, and man made structures, such as sugar mill cranes. The bat falcon lays 2-4 eggs. Incubation periods last up to 4 to 7 weeks. Within 35-40 days of hatching it is fully feathered and able to eat whole prey on its own.
The bat falcon appears to have a preference for consuming bats, although they do not make up the majority of its diet. Their diet consists mainly of small birds and large insects, which include dragonflies, moths, large grasshoppers, Homoptera, and Hymenoptera. The diet of the bat falcon varies by seasons and is divided into summer and winter diets. This shift in diet is affected by the change in the most abundant and nutritious prey obtainable. The summer diet consists of mostly birds and during winter, mostly insects. The bat falcon hunts during periods of dusk to dawn and is considered nocturnal.
This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 13,000,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 100,000-1,000,000 individuals (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001). Global population trends have not been quantified, but there is evidence of a population increase (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001), and so the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The bat falcon, Falco rufigularis, is found in Mexico, Central and South America. It ranges from eastern Colombia east to the Guianas and Trinidad, and south to southern Brazil and northern Argentina.