The Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis), formerly Eastern Red-footed Falcon, is a small raptor of the falcon family. It breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China, wintering in Southern Africa. Its diet consists mainly of insects, such as termites.
Males are characteristically dark sooty brown, and may offer confusion with melanistic Gabar Goshawk, but the chestnut on the vent should prevent confusion here. Also there may be some superficial resemblance to Sooty Falcon and Grey Kestrel, but those two species both have yellow feet and cere. Separating male Amur and Red-footed Falcons is best done by the white underwing coverts on Amur Falcon, whereas the underwing of male Red-footed Falcons is uniformly grey.
Females may offer a bit more confusion with a wider range of falcons as they have a typical falcon head pattern. The grey on the top of the head should quickly rule out confusion with Red-footed Falcons. The female has barring on the lower belly. Red cere and feet rule out all other falcons.
For juveniles, red feet should restrict ID to the Amur and Red-footed group, and the darker crown and lack of buff all the way up the belly rules out Western Red-footed Falcon. Females and juveniles lack the buff underwing coverts of Red-footed Falcon.
It was long considered a subspecies or mere morph of the Red-footed Falcon, but it is nowadays considered well distinct. Nonetheless, it is the Red-footed Falcon's closest relative; their relationship to other falcons is more enigmatic. They appear morphologically somewhat intermediate between kestrels and hobbies and DNA sequence data has been unable to further resolve this question, mainly due to lack of comprehensive sampling. They might be closer to the Merlin than to most other living falcons, or more generally related to this species and American falcons such as the American Kestrel and the Aplomado Falcon.
Relationship with humans
Every year, more than 100,000 Amur Falcons are hunted for food at Nagaland during their passage between breeding and wintering grounds.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Falco amurensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/106003604. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Wink et al. (1998), Griffiths (1999), Griffiths et al. (2004)
- Griffiths, Carole S. (1999): Phylogeny of the Falconidae inferred from molecular and morphological data. Auk 116(1): 116–130. PDF fulltext
- Griffiths, Carole S.; Barrowclough, George F.; Groth, Jeff G. & Mertz, Lisa (2004): Phylogeny of the Falconidae (Aves): a comparison of the efficacy of morphological, mitochondrial, and nuclear data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32(1): 101–109. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2003.11.019 (HTML abstract)
- Wink, Michael; Seibold, I.; Lotfikhah, F. & Bednarek, W. (1998): Molecular systematics of holarctic raptors (Order Falconiformes). In: Chancellor, R.D., Meyburg, B.-U. & Ferrero, J.J. (eds.): Holarctic Birds of Prey: 29-48. Adenex & WWGBP. PDF fu
- Corso, Andrea and William S. Clark, illustrated by Ian Lewington (1998) Identification of Amur Falcon Birding World 11(7):261-8
- Corso, Andrea and Pete Dennis (1998) Amur Falcons in Italy - a new Western Palearctic bird Birding World 11(7):259-60