The Brown Falcon (Falco berigora), also known as the Brown Hawk, is a member of the falcon genus found in the drier regions of Australia. Its specific name berigora is derived from an aboriginal name for the bird.
The flight and hunting methods of the brown falcon differ markedly from those of other falcons. Both its wing-beats and flight are relatively slow. It is usually seen quietly perched or flying, alternatively beating its wings and gliding with wings held in a shallow "V" position. It sometimes hovers rather inefficiently, especially on windy days, but it has the ability to soar to great heights.
The brown falcon does not hunt by chasing its prey in flight. Its main method of searching for its food is to sit quietly on a high perch such as a dead branch on a tree or power pole. It drops down on its prey and grabs it with its talons. The falcon also searches for prey whilst gliding and flying.
Adults are usually 40 cm to 50 cm long. They are found in light and dark forms and a variety of intermediates. Animals typically have red-brown heads with narrow black streaks with a light crown and off white chin. Wings are a spotted red-brown with dark brown quills. Beaks are light blue/grey, eyes are brown. The falcons make a loud cackle call uttered frequently.
Breeding and habitat
Brown falcons breed from June - November usually in an old nest of another hawk species, they occasionally nest in hollow limbs of trees. The brown falcon lays between 2-5 eggs that have red and brown spots and blotches.
Brown falcons are found throughout Australia. Darker forms of the animal are usually found in arid areas. The brown falcon has been spotted in New Guinea.
The brown falcon eats small mammals, including house mice and young rabbits. It also eats small birds, lizards, snakes and a variety of invertebrates particularly caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets and beetles. Insects form the bulk of the animals diet during winter and the falcons often chase the insects on the ground.
- Birds of The World by Colin Harrison and Alan Greensmith.
- Complete Book of Australian Birds Readers Digest
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