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Black Falcon
Falco subniger

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: 


Falco subniger
click to enlarge
Distribution: Australasian. Endemic to Australia. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Probably closely related to the "hierofalcons" [subgenus Hierofalco Kleinschmidt 1901], which include F. biarmicus, F. cherrug, F. jugger, and F. rusticolus (Wink et al. 2004, Nittinger et al. 2005), although this conclusion requires further study.

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant, with juveniles dispersing from breeding areas (Bildstein 2006). The population in southeastern Australia regularly migrates northward for the winter and back south for the summer, and nomadic movements occur in response to changes in abundance of certain prey species, e.g., quail (Debus 1998).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in open woodland and flat, open country, particularly tree-lined watercourses crossing plains (Olsen 1995). Spends most of its time soaring, but also perches on the top of a dead tree or fencepost (Debus 1998).

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on mammals (including young rabbits and rats), birds (mostly small and medium-sized species, but occasionally herons and waterfowl), reptiles, insects, and carrion (Debus 1998). Prey is captured on the wing (insects, birds), or on the ground from a perch. It sometimes hunts cooperatively, pirates prey from other raptors, and follows grassfires, farm equipment, shooters, and livestock to capture flushed prey, sometimes in the company of Brown Falcons (Olsen 1995, Debus op cit.).

Breeding: Nests solitarily in the old stick nest of another raptor or corvid placed in the top of a tree or on a pylon, 4-14 m off the ground. Clutch size is usually 3 or 4 eggs, the incubation period is 34 days, and the nestling period is 38-49 days (Debus 1998). The period of dependence after fledging is at least two months, probably longer (Debus op cit.).more....

Conservation: Generally uncommon, but widespread, and numbers may have increased in agricultural areas where prey has become more abundant (Debus 1998). Olsen (1995) also thought there has been a slight increase due to habitat clearing and increased numbers of rabbits, starlings, and galahs, and the increase in bodies of permanent water. Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2008), but it is regarded as Vulnerable in Victoria, and the 38% decline in the overall reporting rate of this species to the Birds Australia atlas project may qualify it for Vulnerable status (Debus 2009).more....

Important References: 
Bedggood, G.W. 1979. Field notes on the Black Falcon. Australian Bird
  Watcher 8:3-34.
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
  NY.
Czechura, G.V., and S.J.S. Debus. 1985. The Black Falcon Falco subniger: a
  summary of information and comparison with the Brown Falcon, Falco berigora.
  Australian Bird Watcher 11:185-207.
Debus, S.J.S. 1994. Black Falcon. P. 270 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.
Debus, S.J.S., T.S. Hatfield, G.S. Olde, and A.B. Rose. 2005. Breeding
  behaviour and diet of a pair of Black Falcons Falco subniger in northern New
  South Wales. Australian Field Ornithology 22:165-181.
Debus, S.J.S., and L.R. Tsang. 2011. Notes on Black Falcons Falco
  subniger
< breeding near Tamworth, New South Wales. australian Field
  Ornithology 28:13-26.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Marchant, S., and P. Higgins (eds.). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand,
  and Antarctic birds. Vol. 2. Raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press,
  Melbourne, Australia.
Nittinger, F., E. Haring, W. Pinsker, M. Wink, and A. Gamauf. 2005. Out of
  Africa? Phylogenetic relationships between Falco biarmicus and the other
  hierofalcons (Aves: Falconidae). Journal of Zoological Systematics &
  Evolutionary Research 43:321-331.
Olsen, P. 1995. Australian birds of prey. John Hopkins University Press,
  Baltimore, MD.
ex. extended link: more....

Sites of Interest:
VIREO
Black Falcon photos.

Researchers:
Morley, Mick
Olsen, Jerry

Last modified: 4/27/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2014. Species account: Black Falcon Falco subniger. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 19 Apr. 2014








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