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Amur Falcon
Falco amurensis

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Amur Red-footed Falcon, Eastern Red-footed Falcon, Eastern Red-footed Kestrel, Manchurian Falcon, Manchurian Red-footed Falcon, Red-legged Falcon.

Falco amurensis
click to enlarge
Distribution: Afrotropical/Palearctic. Breeds from eastern SIBERIA eastward through Amurland to Ussuriland and south through northern MONGOLIA and MANCHURIA to NORTH KOREA, northeastern CHINA, and southern JAPAN; formerly in northeastern INDIA (Cachar); winters from northern BOTSWANA and MALAWI south through SOUTH AFRICA. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Regarded as a race of the Red-footed Falcon F. vespertinus by Brown and Amadon (1968) and Cheng (1987), but Thiollay (1994) separated the two on the basis of differences in female plumages, morphology, and behavior. There is no zone of overlap between the two species. Using nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, F. amurensis and F. vespertinus clustered as a sister clade to a group containing the Eleonora's Falcon (F. eleonorae), Sooty Falcon (F. concolor), and Eurasian Hobby. (F. subbuteo) (Seibold et al. 1993, Wink and Ristow 2000).

Movements: Complete, long distance, trans-equatorial migrant (Bildstein 2006). Migrating birds leave their Asian breeding range and travel to northeastern India and Bangladesh, where they fatten up while staging for overland flights over peninsular India (Ali and Ripley 1984). Subsequently, they undertake the longest regular overwater passage of any raptor, crossing over the Indian Ocean between southwestern India and tropical East Africa, a journey of more than 4,000 km, which also includes nocturnal flight (Bildstein and Zalles 2005). This species is finely attuned to the strong monsoon tailwinds, which results in its late arrival in eastern Africa in autumn (Ash and Atkins 2009). Migrants arrive in their southern African winter range in November-December and depart by early May (Mendelsohn 1997). This species is an "elliptical migrant" (Kerlinger 1989), and its return route back to its breeding range is largely overland and to the north and west of its southbound route (Bildstein and Zalles op cit.). Recent observations of migrants in Ethiopia in late November-early December suggest that there may be a more regular overland passage at higher latitudes than previously thought (Clement 2001). more....

Habitat and Habits: In its breeding range, it occurs in open areas, woodland edge, wooded steppe, and agricultural areas (Brazil 2009). In its winter range in southern Africa, this species inhabits moist grasslands and open areas in woodland and is less common in the semi-arid habitats favored by the closely related Red-footed Kestrel. It also forages in crop-farming regions and roosts in towns (Mendelsohn 1997). In Africa, it occurs in large flocks, sometimes including Lesser Kestrels and Red-footed Falcons, which perch on trees and telephone wires and hover over open fields and grasslands. In some areas, roosts of these three species may number tens of thousands of birds. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: On its winter range, large numbers are attracted to termite emergences, locust swarms, and crop harboring beetles and other insects (Mendelsohn 1979). This species searches for prey from telephone or electricity lines, or while hovering, dropping to the ground, kestrel-fashion, to capture prey and return to the perch to eat it. more....

Breeding: Nests in deserted or new nests of magpies, crows, and raptors in trees. Clutch size is 2-6 eggs, which are white with dense brown and reddish-brown markings. Females perform the incubation duties, and the male captures and delivers prey to the female and the nestlings. The nestling period is 27-29 days in Mongolia, During the post-fledging period, the young and adults perch together on poles and trees in open areas, where they hunt small voles and large insects (Gombobaatar and Monks 2011). more....

Conservation: The conservation status of this species is presently uncertain. There is no clear evidence for large-scale changes in its distribution and numbers in Africa (Mendelsohn 1997), but the grassland regions it favors are under severe pressure from agriculture and afforestation. Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: Anthony van Zyl, who organizes the Migrating Kestrel Project in South Africa, suggested that the global population is likely to be between 300,000 to 500,000, based on a count of 100,000 in South Africa during the 2008-2009 wintering season and the assumption that large numbers of these birds winter in Zimbabwe and other countries north of South Africa (A. van Zyl, posting to africanraptors listserve on 11 Dec. 2009). Symes and Woodborne (2010) noted that the total population estimates for South Africa are significantly lower than global estimates, so a significant proportion of the population may not overwinter in South Africa, or that global populations are significantly lower than estimated. more....

Important References: 
Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban, and K. Newman. 1982. The birds of Africa. Vol. 1.
  Academic Press, London.
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Mendelsohn, J.M. 1997. Eastern Redfooted Kestrel. Pp. 262-263 in J.A.
  Harrison et al. (eds.), The atlas of South African birds. Volume 1:
  Non-passerines. BirdLife South Africa and Avian Demography
  Unit, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Naoroji, R. 2006. Birds of prey of the Indian subcontinent. Christopher
  Helm, London.
Orta, J. 1994. Amur Falcon. Pp. 265-266 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and
  J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Current Research: A satellite telemetry study is now underway to study the migration route and other bioloigcal aspects of this species, using ultralight 5 g solar-powered satellite tags. The study is being conducted by the World Working Group on Birds of Prey (Bernd Meyburg and Achim Matthes), BirdLife South Africa (Rina Pretorius, Sylva Francis, Zephné Bernitz). and Microwave Telemetry (Paul Howey). Wintering Amur Falcons were trapped at the largest South African roost (containing 26,000 birds) in early 2010 and equipped 10 adults with the satellite devices (posting by B. Meyburg on SatTelOrn).

Sites of Interest:
Amur Falcon photos.

Corso, Andrea
Gurung, Surya
Le Manh, Hung
Naoroji, Rishad K.
Saharudin, Muhd Hakim
van Zyl, Anthony

Last modified: 2/12/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Amur Falcon Falco amurensis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 31 May. 2020

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