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White-rumped Falcon
Neohierax insignis

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Burmese Pigmy Falcon, Fielden's Falconet, Polihierax insignis, White-rumped Pygmy Falcon, White-rumped Pygmy-falcon.

Neohierax insignis
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Distribution: Indomalayan. Central and southern MYANMAR, northwestern and western THAILAND, central and southern LAOS, northern CAMBODIA, and VIETNAM (Annam, Cochinchima). more....

Subspecies: 3 races. N. i. cinereiceps: Southern MYANMAR and THAILAND; N. i. harmandi: Southern Indochina in southern and central LAOS, southern VIETNAM; N. i. insignis: Western and central MYANMAR.

Taxonomy: During the last half of the 20th century, this species was included in the genus Polihierax with the Pygmy Falcon (P. semitorquatus) of Africa. However, Kirke Swann (1922) had earlier assigned the White-rumped Falcon to a separate monotypic genus, Neohierax, based on differences in tail and primary dimensions between the two species. Brown and Amadon (1968) also favored generic status for each of the species. This treatment was supported by the phylogenetic study of syringeal morphology by Griffiths (1994) and by an analysis of 24 morphometric characters by Kemp and Crowe (1994), both of whom found that the White-rumped Falcon is basal to the genus Falco, but is not in the clade containing the Pygmy Falcon, Polihierax semitorquatus, and the falconets, Microhierax. Therefore, this species is now reassigned to the monotypic genus, Neohierax. Clark (1994) noted that the validity of the subspecies is in need of reassessment.

Movements: Probably non-migratory.

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in savanna and primary diptocarp and mixed deciduous forest of plains and foothills up to 915 m (Clark 1994, Robson 2000). Uses holes in trees for roosting, as well as nesting. Unwary.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on lizards, which are often captured on tree trunks and foliage. Prey delivered by a male to the nest observed by Kemp and Vidhidharm (1998) included eight lizards (mostly Draco spp.), a cicada, an unidentified insect, and 12 other unidentified items (probably insects). A cicada and a grasshopper were captured by a nesting female. Observations of 13 capture attempts by the latter bird included six attempts on the ground, four into foliage, and three to a branch or twig, but no aerial hunting like that typical of the falconets, Microhierax spp.

Breeding: The only study of the breeding biology of this species is apaprently that of Kemp and Vidhidharm (1998), who made five days of observations at a nest in western Thailand. The nest was found on 28 March 1996 and was located in an old woodpecker hole 12 m high in an emergent 24-m tall Shorea obtusa tree. It contained two unmarked white eggs, which measured 35.4 x 15.6 mm and 32.5 x 24.7 mm. The female incubated during the day, and both the male and female roosted in the nest hole at night. Earlier reports by Kirke Swann (1933) and Clark (1994) of this species nesting in old stick nests and laying "off-white" eggs were probably erroneous.

Conservation: The status of this species is poorly known throughout its range, but it probably has declined as a result of the clearing of forests and probably from persecution. BirdLife International catagorizes the White-rumped Falcon as Near Threatened.

Important References: 
Clark, W.S. 1994. White-rumped Pygmy-falcon. P. 255 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.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Griffiths, C.S. 1994. Syringeal morphology and the phylogeny of the
  Falconidae. Condor 96:127-140.
Kemp, A.C., and A. Vidhidharm. 1998. Breeding of the White-rumped
  Pygmy-falcon. Wilson Bulletin 110:71-76.
Kirke Swann, H. 1922-33. A synopsis of the Accipitres. Wheldon and
  Wesley, London.

Kasorndorkbua, Chaiyan

Last modified: 2/17/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: White-rumped Falcon Neohierax insignis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 30 May. 2020

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