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.
Listen to the sound of Red-footed Falcon
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
recorded by Zdenek Vermouzek
|wingspan min.:||65||cm||wingspan max.:||76||cm|
|size min.:||28||cm||size max.:||34||cm|
|incubation min.:||27||days||incubation max.:||30||days|
|fledging min.:||27||days||fledging max.:||30||days|
The first clutch of three to five eggs is laid and is incubated by both birds for 21-27 days commencing with the second egg. The young hatch at 1 or 2 day intervals, fledging 26-27 days later.
Dispersal from the breeding colonies commences around the third week in August and is all but complete by the end of the same Month. Migration commences in mid-September.
Video Red-footed Falcon
Falco vespertinus breeds in eastern Europe and west, central and north-central Asia, with its main range from Belarus south to Hungary, northern Serbia and Montenegro, Romania, Moldova and east Bulgaria, eastward through Ukraine and northwest and south Russia and north Kazakhstan to extreme northwest China and the upper Lena river (Russia). It winters in southern Africa, from South Africa northwards to southern Kenya. It has a large global population estimated to be 300,000-800,000 individuals, but recent evidence suggests that it is undergoing large declines in parts of its range. The European population of 26,000-39,000 pairs (forming 25-49% of the global population) suffered a large decline during 1970-1990, and has continued to decline during 1990-2000, particularly in the key populations in Russia and Ukraine, with overall declines exceeding 30% in ten years (three generations). Declines have also been reported from eastern Siberia, where the species may have disappeared as a breeder from the Baikal region. In Hungary estimated populations have declined from 2,000-2,500 pairs in the late 1980s to 800-900 pairs based on surveys in 2003 and 2004, and in Bulgaria very few active colonies remain. However, populations in central Asia appear to be stable, with the species reported to be common in suitable habitats (especially in forest-steppe zone with Rook Corvus frugilegus colonies) in Kazakhstan, and no evidence of any population declines there. Populations in western Europe are also stable or undergoing increases. The species breeds in open lowlands with trees and plenty of insects, on which it feeds, including steppe and forest-steppe, open woodland, cultivation and pastureland with tall hedgerows or fringing trees, agricultural areas with shelterbelts and, in the northeast, boggy areas and taiga edge. It is social, breeding in the old nest of another bird (most commonly C. frugilegus), but can be solitary. It is found from sea-level to c.300 m in the west, but to 1,500 m in Asia. Threats include destruction of suitable nest sites and, more significantly, widespread use of pesticides affecting food supply. From 1980 to 1999 intensive poisoning of C. frugilegus in Hungary forced the species to change their nest site selection habits, and large colonies have nearly disappeared there as a result, with only 38% of the population breeding colonially. As productivity is generally greater in larger colonies, further decreases may occur.
Passage between breeding and wintering ranges occurs on broad fronts, without concentrations at narrow sea-crossings. Autumn movement heaviest over east Mediterranean; most Siberian birds apparently travel west between 50 degrees and 60 degrees N, pass north of Caspian and Black Seas, and then (joined by European birds) south over Balkans, west Turkey, and Cyprus towards Egypt. Some passage also occurs south of Caspian, but uncommon in Iran and unrecorded Iraq. In view of rarity in East Africa, southward movement presumably west of Rift Valley; marked autumn passage noted Darfur, and recorded Chad September-October. This species unusual in that ?centre of gravity? of movement lies significantly further west in spring, when considerable numbers move north through West Africa Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Cameroun and cross Mediterranean from Algeria eastwards. As consequence, quite often penetrates Morocco and western half of Europe in spring, sometimes in numbers, leading to sporadic nesting west and north-west of normal breeding range.
Departures from breeding grounds begin mid-August in Russia, but most leave in September; final exodus normally early October in south Russia and mid-October in central Europe, though stragglers may persist until November or even December. Passage across Mediterranean at peak late September and early October, and winter quarters reached in latter month. Return movements begin about early March; Mediterranean recrossed mid-April to mid-May. First birds arrive central Europe and Ukraine from mid-April, central Russia late April or early May, and more northern and eastern breeding areas during first or even second half of May.
falcon: the kestrel Falco tinnunculus and the red-footed
falcon Falco vespertinus