Pygmy Falcon facts - Animals of Africa

A pygmy falcon in South Africa.
A pygmy falcon in South Africa.

The pygmy falcon is the smallest type of predatory bird in Africa and can mostly be found in eastern and southern parts of the continent. They prey on insects, small mammals, and small reptiles and are six inches long on average.

4. Physical Description

Falcon physique varies depending on whether or not they are male or female. For instance the male adult pygymy falcon is white below and on the face while their back is grayish in colour. The females falcon has a chestnut back and white eye spot on nape while the juvenile falcon have a brown back which is duller the adult female one with a rufous wash on the breast. The flight feathers of the wing are spotted black and white while the tail is barred black and white. Falcon flight is low and undulating and because of its size and pattern, it perches upright in an open treetops and it usually inhabits dry bush.

3. Behavior

The pygmy falcon is diurnal which means it is active in the morning and late afternoon but spends the majority of the day roosting. Similar to the woodpecker, falcons are agile in flight and can dart through the air. Their size enables them to share a nest colony which provides a safe and weatherproof environment. When courting, the female falcons perform exaggerated tail wagging displays which is followed by the pair moving to the nest of a sociable weaver. The falcon pair evicts one to two of the weavers from their nest and the female lays around four eggs. Although both parents incubate the eggs for thirty days, it takes a higher toll on the female. The male provides the family with food.

2. Habitat and Range

The falcons live in two different places in Africa. They prefer a climate that is arid or semi arid. Falcons avoid forests and open edges but frequently visit huge nests of birds who they share roosting and nesting sites with. The birds are common and not endangered. Pygmy falcon mobility depends on the availability of weaver since they use their nesting for mating hence have very limited distribution and also its prone to prey due to its size, it can also avoid the savanna grassland habitat that is devoid to the sociable weaver bird nests.

1. Diet

The pygmy falcon majorly depends on insects and lizards for food but will also feed on rodents and small birds. Regardless of their size, they are a voracious predator just like birds of prey. It perches from a tall tree as it watches down for a food. After the falcon sights its prey, it quickly dives to the ground snatching its victim in its talons, and then it returns to the perch for feeding. Like other raptors, the Africa pygmy falcon regurgitates twice daily. When food is scarce, the falcon can strike and kill the sociable weaver chick and brings it in the nest chamber for the young ones and the hungry family.


More in Environment