The African Pygmy Falcon, Description, Habitat, Diet, Behavior, and Reproduction
The African Pygmy Falcon
With a length of only eight inches, African pygmy falcons are some of the tiniest raptors. Pygmy falcons utilize their acute vision to scan the horizon while perched on tall poles or the limbs of dead trees in search of prey such as snakes, lizards, rodents, and birds. Then, in fast bursts of speed, they dart through the air, swooping down on their prey. They can attack their victim and hold their food in their feet while they fly thanks to their feet, which have three toes pointing forward and one toe facing backward. They may rip through flesh due to their hooked beaks. To avoid the heat of the daytime, they prefer to hunt in the morning or the evening.
The African Pygmy Falcon does not construct its own nest. Instead, they rob social weaver birds of up to 25% of their nest area. However, African pygmy falcons are nice neighbors. They don't bother the weaver birds, but they do catch and kill snakes that try to get into the nests. Living alone, in couples, or tiny family groupings are African pygmy falcons.
African pygmy falcons can grow to be eight inches long and weigh between 1.9 and 2.7 ounces as adults. They usually have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years.
The African Pygmy Falcon and the white-rumped Polihierax insignis are the two varieties of a pygmy falcon.
These little raptors display sexual dimorphism—males and females have distinct markings—unlike the majority of other raptors. The mantle between the wings on females is a sharp chestnut brown, whereas the back of males has a consistent gray color. Black flight feathers with white tips and dots. They have pale orange legs and feet, a gray head, and dark brown eyes. It has a creamy white underside. It has orange bands around its eyes and short, pointed beaks. Even while it quickly hits its prey on the ground from a perch, it is striking. Insects in flight have been known to be hunted and caught by them. The wingspan of the pygmy falcon may reach over 14 inches (37 centimeters)!
The African continent is home to this little bird. It occurs in two distinct populations, one in eastern Africa (countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and others) and the other in southern Africa (Angola, Namibia, and South Africa). Tropical forests, which the falcons often avoid, divide these two groups.
The Pygmy Falcon prefers open, semi-arid settings with little vegetation and solitary trees, especially Camelthorns (Acacia erioloba) amid desert grasslands. It is frequently observed perched on telephone poles or in trees high above.
This species nests and roosts atop the nests of other bird species, especially weaver species like the White-headed Buffalo-weaver and Social Weaver.
This little raptor is an expert hunter. It can catch food on the flight (especially tiny birds), but it likes to sit and attack from above. It eats a variety of things, including lizards like skinks and insects like beetles and grasshoppers. Additionally, it eats rats and snakes. It will carry its food to an exposed perch to feed after it has its victim in its talons. Despite being uncommon, this falcon has been observed preying on adults and nestlings belonging to weavers with which it shares a nest.
The Pygmy Falcon is a magnificent animal. Male and female Pygmy Falcons have somewhat different colors, similar to the American Kestrel. Their cheeks, breasts, and belly are all brilliant white. Their heads are a beautiful light gray color. The backs of males are likewise gray, whereas the backs of females are a deep chestnut shade. Their tails are likewise banded black and white, and they have black and white feathers on their wings. Their white rump patch becomes noticeable when in flight. Their gray beak, feet, and ceres are yellow-orange, and they have black eyes.
The Pygmy Falcon, which is roughly the size of a shrike, has an uncommon flying style for a falcon. The Pygmy Falcon flies undulatingly, that is, it rises and falls gently, goes up and down, and back down again.
This little falcon utilizes a range of sounds and songs, like most birds do, to communicate with other birds of its kind.
These falcons will perform some stunning shows more regularly when nesting season gets started, which helps them bond as a couple with their selected spouse. Vocalizations, head-bobbing, bowing, and tail-pumping are among these behaviors.
The female will deposit two to three eggs when the timing is appropriate. They are round and brilliant white. Around a month is required for egg incubation. Both the male and the female are in charge of incubation tasks, however, the female is accountable for a higher proportion of the effort.
This does not imply that the man is not doing his share of the work, though. He is in charge of feeding the female and the nestlings. The young hatch from the nest while they are little and coated in white down feathers. For around 30 days, they will stay in the nest, developing and gaining stronger. They will be prepared to fly for the first time at that point or fledge. For up to two more months, these fledgling birds will remain in their parents' area while they learn how to hunt and be safe.
It's also fascinating to observe that while each male only mates with one female, a female will mate with multiple males.