Overview

Comprehensive Description

Diversity

The Falconidae is one of two families within the order Falconiformes. Falconidae contains 11 genera and 64 species, and is divided into two subfamilies, Polyborinae (caracaras and forest-falcons) and Falconinae (true falcons and falconets).

Falconids can be found in most terrestrial habitats throughout the world, but the greatest diversity of falconids is found in South America and Africa. All falconids are able hunters that can take a variety of prey, including insects, birds, mammals, herpetiles and carrion. Most falconids are solitary and territorial, though a few species are colonial or semi-colonial. All but one species is monogamous, and pairs breed once per year, raising between one and six chicks. Both the male and female provide parental care, with the male providing the majority of food for the female and nestlings.

  • Sibley, C., J. Ahlquist. 1990. Phylogeny and Classification of Birds; A Study in Molecular Evolution. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • 2003. E Dickinson, ed. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, Third Edition. London: Christopher Helm.
  • 2002. Falcons and Caracaras (Falconidae). M Hutchins, J Jackson, W Bock, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, Second Edition. Detroit: Gale Group.
  • Kemp, A., I. Newton. 2003. Falcons. Pp. 154-161 in C Perrins, ed. The New Encyclopedia of Birds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Snyder, H. 2001. Falcons and Caracaras. Pp. 225-229 in C Elphick, J Dunning, D Sibley, eds. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • White, C., P. Olsen, L. Kiff. 1994. Family Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras). Pp. 216-247 in J del Hoyo, A Elliott, J Sargatal, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 2. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
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Distribution

Geographic Range

Falconids are native to terrestrial ecosystems worldwide, except in the high arctic and on Antarctica. Africa and South America host the highest diversity of falconids.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic ; palearctic ; oriental ; ethiopian ; neotropical ; australian ; oceanic islands

Other Geographic Terms: holarctic ; cosmopolitan

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Falconids are medium-sized to large birds of prey (wingspan 55 to more than 125 cm, weight 28 to 2100 g), typically with hooked beaks, large brown eyes and a yellow cere, eyerings and feet. Falcons (Falconinae) are typically stocky birds with pointed wings, long toes with sharp talons, hooked, notched beaks, and brown, black, gray or white streaked or mottled plumage. Caracaras (Polyborinae) are smaller than falcons, have longer necks and legs than falcons, thicker, flatter talons, more rounded wings, a semi-bare face that is often brightly colored, and often glossy black plumage. Plumage of most falconids is lighter below and darker above. Individual species show variation from the basic structures that reflects the functions required by their habitat and prey. For example, the length and strength of the toes and beaks vary widely within the family and correspond to prey type. Bird predators have long toes, where as insect- and mammal-catching species have shorter, fleshier toes. Wing shape also varies; fast, open-country species have long, pointed wings, whereas forest-dwelling species have more rounded wings and longer tails.

Like other birds of prey, falconids exhibit reversed sexual size dimorphism (females are larger than males). This trait is most exaggerated in falconids that catch fast-moving prey, such as birds, and less pronounced in species that primarily eat carrion. In some species, females may also have a larger bill than males. Sexual dichromatism occurs in a few species of falconids. Male and female plumage are similar in most species, though male plumage may be somewhat brighter. Immature falconids typically exhibit plumage that is dull in color, often brownish with pale edges and more streaked than adults. Some species, such as gyrfalcons exhibit light and dark morphs. Falconids molt once per year, and immatures of most species attain adult plumage by the first annual molt.

Traits shared with Accipitrids, the presumed sister taxa of falconids include a fleshy cere covering the base of a strongly hooked beak, strong hallux (hind toe) opposing three forward toes, habit of capturing prey with feet, and reversed sexual size dimorphism (female larger than male).

Traits that distinguish this group include a tubercle (small, bony projection) in the nostril, structure of the syrinx, characteristic flight-feather molt pattern, tomial teeth on bill for killing and dismantling prey, chemical composition of eggshells, reddish (rather than blue or greenish) translucence of eggs when held up to light, and habit of killing prey with the beak (rather than squeezing with the feet).

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

  • Wheeler, B., W. Clark. 1995. A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors. San Diego, California: Academic Press, Inc.
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Ecology

Habitat

Falconids are found in nearly every terrestrial habitat, including desert, tundra, taiga, grasslands, savanna, scrub forest, chaparral, forest, mountains, coastal areas, wetlands, estuaries, lake shores, agricultural areas, suburbs and cities. The highest diversity of falconids is found in the tropics, in open rather than forested habitats, and in lowlands rather than at high elevations. Most species are adaptable to various habitats, as habitat structure and availability of nest sites appear to be more important than specific vegetation. A dramatic example of this adaptability are peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) and kestrels that successfully breed in cities, nesting on tall buildings and other man-made structures and hunting pigeons and other urban wildlife. Other species, including most forest-falcons in Polyborinae, require more specific habitat, such as undisturbed forest interiors. Migratory species often choose winter habitat that is similar in structure to their breeding habitat. Males, females and juveniles of some species may winter in different habitats, the juveniles taking advantage of habitats with abundant prey but an absence of nest sites.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra ; taiga ; desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural ; riparian

  • Cade, T., M. Martell, P. Redig, G. Septon, H. Tordoff. 1996. Peregrine Falcons in Urban North America. Pp. 3-14 in D Bird, D Varland, J Negro, eds. Raptors in Human Landscapes: Adaptations to Built and Cultivated Environments. San Diego: Academic Press Inc.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Most falconids are carnivores, though several species are scavengers and some caracaras include plant matter in their diet. As a whole, falconids eat a wide variety of prey. While some species are more specialized than others, most will opportunistically take a variety prey. Prey items include mammals (from mice to lambs), adult and nestling birds, snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, fish, crayfish, adult and larval insects, wasp and bee nests, fruit, carrion and dung. Most falconids catch prey from soaring flight or by darting from a concealed perch, but a variety of other hunting methods are also employed. Pairs of Aplomado falcons (Falco femoralis) hunt cooperatively to flush and catch small birds. Some caracaras walk or run over the ground to scatter and catch insects. Yellow-headed caracaras (Milvago chimachima) pick ticks from the backs of cattle, among other hunting methods. Kleptoparasitism (stealing food from other birds) is a common behavior among falconids, who steal from gulls, pelicans and other raptors. Food caching is also quite common.

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Piscivore , Eats eggs, Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Scavenger ); herbivore (Frugivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

As predators, falconids impact populations of their prey on a local scale. Falconids are also host to feather lice.

Black caracaras (Daptrius ater) have a mutualistic relationship with tapirs. The caracaras eat ticks off of the tapirs, which seem to solicit the caracaras by calling and laying down to have the ticks removed.

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Predation

Falconids do not have many natural predators. However, colonial-nesting and foraging species are known to cooperatively defend against potential predators, which include eagles.

Known Predators:

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Known prey organisms

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Falconids use calls to advertise ownership of a territory, to communicate between mates or group members, and in territorial or food disputes. Pairs of breeding forest-falcons sing duets before sunrise, a behavior that presumably functions to advertise their occupation of a territory, and perhaps to strengthen the pair bond. Chicks and females also use vocalizations to beg for food. The vocalizations of falconids are simple, repeated monosyllabic calls, described variously as cackles, chatters, squawks, croaks, wails and whines. Other behaviors used to communicate include flight displays, such as repeated plunging dives near the nest to advertise ownership of a territory or as a part of courtship. Plumage patterns and other physical characteristics, such as the bare skin on the face of the crested caracara (Caracara cheriway) that changes from orange to yellow in excitement, may serve as social signals of good health or prowess, or may advertise occupation of a territory.

Sight is the most important sense used for hunting. Falconids have exceptional eyesight, which they use for catching fast-moving prey. Sound is also used by some forest-dwelling species, many of which have a ruff of stiff feathers around the face that help to capture sound.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: duets

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Estimates of annual adult survival ranges from 65 to 80 %. The highest mortality probably occurs during the first year. Some of the oldest known falconids include a crested caracara (Caracara cheriway) and a peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), both of which lived to 22 years old.

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Reproduction

Though the breeding habits of some species (including most forest-falcons) are unknown, most falconids are believed to be monogamous, and to breed as solitary pairs. Most species are also territorial breeders, defending a hunting territory around the nest site. Resident species may defend a territory year-round. Males of migrant species typically arrive at the nest site before females. Territorial and courtship displays are performed by the male alone, and sometimes by the breeding pair, and include characteristic perched and flight displays near the nest site, accompanied by vocalizations. About ten species nest colonially at least occasionally. Even colonial species breed in individual pairs, and most pairs breed together for many years. Polygyny has been recorded infrequently in a few species. However, it is not known to be typical of any species. Two species of falconids, red-throated caracaras (Ibycter americanus) and collared falconets (Microhierax caerulescens) regularly breed cooperatively.

One characteristic of nesting falconids is division of responsibilities. Females are responsible for brooding and feeding the young as well as defending the nest. Males are entirely responsible for hunting from the time of courtship to about half-way through the nestling period, when the female begins to leave the nest and start hunting.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous ; cooperative breeder

Falconids breed once per year during the time of greatest prey availability, often between late winter and early summer. Females lay 1 to 7 (usually 2 to 4) buff eggs with dark red-brown speckles. Eggs are laid every-other day or sometimes every third day. If a clutch is lost within the first two weeks, many pairs will relay. Incubation lasts for 28 to 35 days, and the fledgling period lasts from 4 to 8 weeks. Unlike Accipitrids (Accipitridae), falconid chicks usually hatch synchronously. As a result, falconid chicks in a nest are usually roughly the same size, and siblicide is rare. Falconids usually begin to breed between ages 1 and 3. Most individuals are philopatric; they return to the area near where they hatched to breed.

Unlike most hawks (Accipitridae), falcons do not build nests (though caracaras do). Instead, falcons may arrange the substrate at a nest site such as a cliff to create a smooth depression for the eggs. Nest sites are variable both within and between species, and can include cliffs, tree cavities, epiphytes, the ground and buildings and other urban structures. Falcons frequently usurp nests built by other species, such as corvids and other raptors. Caracaras do build rudimentary nests of sticks, which they line with softer materials such as bark or wool.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization (Internal )

Females lay 1 to 6 (usually 3 to 4) buff eggs with dark red-brown speckles. Eggs are incubated by the female for 28 to 35 days; generally smaller species have a shorter incubation period than larger species. The semi-altricial chicks usually hatch synchronously, and are brooded almost constantly by the female for the first 7 to 10 days. The female also feeds the chicks for the first part of the hatchling period, by tearing prey items into small pieces. The male provides all of the food for the female and the chicks until approximately half-way through the nestling period, at which time the female begins hunting as well. The chicks fledge after 28 to 30 days in small falcons, up to 49 days in the largest falcons and up to 8 weeks in caracaras. The parents continue to provide food for the fledglings for 2 weeks to several months after fledging.

Parental Investment: altricial ; male parental care ; female parental care

  • 2002. Falcons and Caracaras (Falconidae). M Hutchins, J Jackson, W Bock, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, Second Edition. Detroit: Gale Group.
  • Kemp, A., I. Newton. 2003. Falcons. Pp. 154-161 in C Perrins, ed. The New Encyclopedia of Birds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Snyder, H. 2001. Falcons and Caracaras. Pp. 225-229 in C Elphick, J Dunning, D Sibley, eds. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • White, C., P. Olsen, L. Kiff. 1994. Family Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras). Pp. 216-247 in J del Hoyo, A Elliott, J Sargatal, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 2. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

View Falconidae Tree

Falconiformes traditionally includes all the diurnal raptors: Accipitridae (hawks, eagles, kites), Pandionidae (osprey), Cathartidae (New World vultures), and Sagittariidae (secretary bird), but all these have been removed to a separate order, Accipitriformes, leaving Falconidae as the only family in the order.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:315Public Records:148
Specimens with Sequences:226Public Species:28
Specimens with Barcodes:224Public BINs:27
Species:38         
Species With Barcodes:33         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Falconidae

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Conservation

Conservation Status

The most significant threat facing falconid populations today is habitat destruction due to intensified human land use, such as logging and clearing of forests. While habitat changes such as forest clearing favor some falconid species, other species that depend on intact forest habitat are declining as a result of development. Many falconid species suffered population declines during the 1960’s and 70’s as the result of poisoning from widespread organochlorine pesticide use. While use of organochlorine pesticides has been eliminated in many countries, it continues in some lesser-developed countries. Local threats to falconid populations include introduced predators, secondary poisoning (from poisons meant for other species), collision with man-made objects such as cars, windows and windmills, bird and egg collection for trade, and electrocution on power lines.

A few species of falconids have successfully adapted to urban landscapes. For example, peregrine falcons are able to nest on buildings, bridges and overpasses, and are able to achieve similar, and sometimes even higher reproductive success compared to pairs nesting in more natural landscapes.

One species of falconid has gone extinct in recorded history. Guadeloupe caracaras (Polyborus plancus lotosus) went extinct around 1600. Today, the IUCN lists 4 species as vulnerable and 6 species as near threatened. All species of Falconids are listed under CITES Appendix I or Appendix II.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Falconids occasionally depredate livestock, poultry, pigeons and native game birds, leading to conflict with humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Falcons have been serving falconers for as long as 2000 years. Falconry continues to be popular today, with as many as 20,000 practitioners worldwide.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; controls pest population

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Wikipedia

List of Falconidae

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey and includes caracaras, Laughing Falcon, forest falcons, falconets, pygmy falcons, falcons and kestrels. They are small to medium sized birds of prey, ranging in size from the Black-thighed Falconet, which can weight as little as 35 grams (1.2 oz), to the Gyrfalcon, which can weigh as much as 1,735 grams (61.2 oz). They have strongly hooked bills, sharply curved talons and excellent eyesight. The plumage is usually composed of browns, whites, chestnut, black and grey, often with barring of patterning. There is little difference in the plumage of males and females, although a few species have some sexual dimorphism in boldness of plumage. They differ from other Falconiformes in killing with their beaks instead of their feet. They have a "tooth" on the side of their beak for the purpose.

They are classified in eleven genera and 67 species of which two are extinct.

Caracaras[edit]

Caracaras are principally birds of South and Central America. They are classified in five genera and 11 species of which one is extinct since 1906. Unlike the Falco falcons in the same family, the birds in the five relevant genera are not fast-flying aerial hunters, but are comparatively slow and are often scavengers (a notable exception being the Red-throated Caracara).


Genus Daptrius Vieillot, 1816 - 1 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Black CaracaraDaptrius ater
Vieillot, 1816
LC[2]South America : Amazonia
Genus Ibycter Vieillot, 1816 - 1 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Red-throated CaracaraIbycter americanus
Boddaert, 1783
LC[3]Central & South America : Southern Mexico to southern BrazilIbycter americanus 2.jpg
Genus Phalcoboenus d'Orbigny, 1834 - 4 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Carunculated CaracaraPhalcoboenus carunculatus
Des Murs, 1853
LC[4]South America : Ecuador, southwest ColombiaEcuador 0698b Carunculated Caracara.jpg
Mountain CaracaraPhalcoboenus megalopterus
Meyen, 1834
LC[5]South America : Peru to central ChilePhalcoboenus megalopterus near Macchu Picchu.jpg
White-throated CaracaraPhalcoboenus albogularis
Gould, 1837
LC[6]South America : Southern Chile, southern ArgentinaMilvagoAlbogularisGould.jpg
Striated CaracaraPhalcoboenus australis
Gmelin, 1788
NT[7]South America : Southern islandsJohnny Rook.jpg
Genus Caracara Merrem, 1826 - 3 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Northern Crested CaracaraCaracara cheriway
Jacquin, 1784
LC[8]Southern USA to northern South America49-58[9]107-130[9]800-1,300[9]Caracara cheriway Roma TX.jpg
Guadalupe CaracaraCaracara lutosa
Ridgway, 1876
EX[10]Guadalupe Island, Mexico
Extinct probably since 1906[11]
Caracara plancus (2).jpg
Southern Crested CaracaraCaracara plancus
Miller, 1777
LC[12]Central and southern South America49-59[13]120-132[13]900-1,600[13]Caracara Plancus (Carancho) 2.jpg
Genus Milvago Spix, 1824 - 2 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Yellow-headed CaracaraMilvago chimachima
Vieillot, 1816
LC[14]Central & South America : Costa Rica to northern Argentina38-46[15]325 (avg)
♀:310-360
♂:280-330
Yellow-headed Caracara.jpg
Chimango CaracaraMilvago chimango
Ridgway, 1876
LC[16]South America : Southern Cone37-40Milvago chimango -Rio Grande, Rio Gande do Sul, Brazil-8.jpg

Laughing Falcon[edit]

Genus Herpetotheres Vieillot, 1817 - 1 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Laughing FalconHerpetotheres cachinnans
Linnaeus, 1758
LC[17]Central & South America : Mexico to northern Argentina46-56[18]79-94[19]♀:600-800[18]
♂:410-680[18]
Herpetotheres cachinnans2.jpg

Forest falcons[edit]

Forest falcons are endemic to the Americas. They are classified as 7 species in one genus. They are adapted for agility in thick cover rather than outright speed in the open air. They have short wings, long tails, and extraordinarily acute hearing. While generally visually inconspicuous, their songs are commonly heard.


Genus Micrastur G.R. Gray, 1841 - 7 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Barred Forest FalconMicrastur ruficollis
Vieillot, 1817
LC[20]Central & South America : Southern Mexico to northern ArgentinaMicrastur ruficollis -Parque Estadual da Serra da Cantareira, Sao Paulo, Brazil-8.jpg
Plumbeous Forest FalconMicrastur plumbeus
Sclater, WL, 1918
VU[21]Central & South America : Southwestern Colombia, northwestern Ecuador30-36[22]
Lined Forest FalconMicrastur gilvicollis
Vieillot, 1817
LC[23]South America : Amazonia
Cryptic Forest FalconMicrastur mintoni
Whittaker, 2003
LC[24]South America : From eastern Amazonia south to Bolivia
Slaty-backed Forest FalconMicrastur mirandollei
Schlegel, 1862
LC[25]Central & South America : Costa Rica to eastern Brazil
Collared Forest FalconMicrastur semitorquatus
Vieillot, 1817
LC[26]Central & South America : Central Mexico to northern Argentina
Buckley's Forest FalconMicrastur buckleyi
Swann, 1919
LC[27]South America : Western Amazonia

Falconets and pygmy falcons[edit]

Genus Spiziapteryx Kaup, 1852 - 1 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Spot-winged FalconetSpiziapteryx circumcincta
Kaup, 1852
LC[28]Southern central South America
Genus Polihierax Kaup, 1847 - 2 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Pygmy FalconPolihierax semitorquatus
Smith, 1836
LC[29]Eastern and southern AfricaPolihierax semitorquatus -Buffalo Springs National Park, Kenya-8.jpg
White-rumped FalconPolihierax insignis
Walden, 1872
NT[30]Southeast AsiaPoliohieraxInsignisKeulemans.jpg
Genus Microhierax Sharpe, 1874 - 5 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Collared FalconetMicrohierax caerulescens
Linnaeus, 1758
LC[31]Northeast India through Southeast AsiaMicrohierax caerulescens Museum de Genève.JPG
Black-thighed FalconetMicrohierax fringillarius
Drapiez, 1824
LC[32]Malay Peninsula, Greater Sundas14-16Microhierax fringillarius Museum de Genève.JPG
White-fronted FalconetMicrohierax latifrons
Sharpe, 1879
NT[33]BorneoMicrohieraxlatifrons.JPG
Philippine FalconetMicrohierax erythrogenys
Vigors, 1831
LC[34]PhilippinesPhilippine Falconet - Microhierax erythrogenys.jpg
Pied FalconetMicrohierax melanoleucos
Blyth, 1843
LC[35]northeast India to southern China and central Vietnam

Falcons and kestrels[edit]

Falcons are roughly divisible into three or four groups. The first contains the kestrels (probably excepting the American Kestrel); the second group contains slightly larger (on average) and more elegant species, the hobbies and relatives. Third are the Peregrine Falcon and its relatives: variably sized powerful birds which also have a black malar area (except some very light color morphs), and often a black cap also. Very similar to these and sometimes included therein are the 4 or so species of hierofalcons (literally, "hawk-falcons").


Genus Falco Linnaeus, 1758 - 40 species
Common nameScientific nameConservation
status
Range[1]Length (cm)Wing span (cm)Weight (g)Picture
Lesser KestrelFalco naumanni
Fleischer, 1818
LC[36]Southwestern, central and eastern Europe and Africa27-3363-72Male and female Lesser Kestrels.jpg
Common KestrelFalco tinnunculus
Fleischer, 1818
LC[37]Widespread in Europe, Africa and Asia32-3965-82♀:154-314
♂:136-252
Common kestrel falco tinnunculus.jpg
Rock KestrelFalco rupicolus
Daudin, 1800
not assessedSouthern AfricaRock Kestrel.jpg
Malagasy KestrelFalco newtoni
Gurney, 1863
LC[38]Madagascar, Aldabra Islandup to 30♀:188-203
♂:180-195
♀:up to 128
♂:112-118
Crecerelle.malgache1.jpg
Mauritius KestrelFalco punctatus
Temminck, 1821
VU[39]Mauritius26-30.5approx 45up to 250Falco punctatus.jpg
Reunion KestrelFalco duboisi
Cowles, 1994
EX[40]Réunion, extinct since c.1700
Seychelles KestrelFalco araea
Oberholser, 1917
VU[41]Seychelles Islands18-2340-45Falco araea Seychelles Kestrel side views.jpg
Spotted KestrelFalco moluccensis
Bonaparte, 1850
LC[42]Moluccas, Sulawesi, Lesser Sundas, Java and Bali
Nankeen KestrelFalco cenchroides
Vigors and Horsfield, 1827
LC[43]Widespread in Australia31-35Falco cenchroides Flickr.jpg
American KestrelFalco sparverius
Linnaeus, 1758
LC[44]Widespread in North, Central and South America19-3150-61♀:118-166
♂:80-120
AmericanKestrel02.jpg
Greater KestrelFalco rupicoloides
Smith, 1829
LC[45]Eastern and southern Africa29-3768-84165-334Greater Kestrel Namibia.jpg
Fox KestrelFalco alopex
Heuglin, 1861
LC[46]Central and western Africa32-3876-88250-300Falco alcopex.jpg
Grey KestrelFalco ardosiaceus
Vieillot, 1823
LC[47]Central, western and southwestern Africa28-3358-72up to 300Falco ardosiaceus.jpg
Dickinson's KestrelFalco dickinsoni
Sclater, 1864
LC[48]Central, western and southwestern Africa27-3061-68167-246FalcoDickinsoniWolf.jpg
Banded KestrelFalco zoniventris
Peters, 1854
LC[49]Madagascar27-3060-68Cerchneis zoniventris.jpg
Red-necked FalconFalco chicquera
Daudin, 1800
LC[50]Central, western and southern Africa, India30-3685Red-Necked Falcon.JPG
Red-footed FalconFalco vespertinus
Linnaeus, 1766
NT[51]Central Europe, southern Africa28-3465-75Rotfußfalke Falco vespertinus.jpg
Amur FalconFalco amurensis
Radde, 1863
LC[52]Eastern Asia, southeastern AfricaFalco amurensis -Mongolia-8.jpg
Eleonora's FalconFalco eleonorae
Gene, 1839
LC[53]Southern Europe and also northern Africa, eastern Africa, Madagascar36-4287-104Falco eleonorae NAUMANN.jpg
Sooty FalconFalco concolor
Temminck, 1825
NT[54]Eastern Libya to southwestern Pakistan, southeast Africa, Madagascar32-3778-90Sooty Falcon, Allée des Baobabs near Morondava, Madagascar.jpg
Aplomado FalconFalco femoralis
Temminck, 1822
LC[55]Widespread in Central & South America30-40avg.90♀:271-460
♂:208-305
Aplomado Falcon portrait.jpg
MerlinFalco columbarius
Linnaeus, 1758
LC[56]Widespread in Northern Hemisphere24-3350-73♀:190-300
♂:125-210
Falco columbarius Male.jpg
Bat FalconFalco rufigularis
Daudin, 1800
LC[57]Northern Mexico to northeastern Argentina♀:30.5
♂:23
Falco rufigularis -Manizales, Caldas, Colombia-8.jpg
Orange-breasted FalconFalco deiroleucus
Temminck, 1825
LC[58]Southern Mexico to northeastern Argentina35-40325-700
Eurasian HobbyFalco subbuteo
Linnaeus, 1758
LC[59]Widespread in Europe, southern Africa, northern AsiaFaucon hobereau.jpg
African HobbyFalco cuvierii
Smith, 1830
LC[60]Eastern, central, western and southeastern Africa2070African Hobby bwindi jan06.jpg
Oriental HobbyFalco severus
Horsfield, 1821
LC[61]Northwestern India to Solomon IslandsFalco severus -zoo -immature-8a.jpg
Australian HobbyFalco longipennis
Swainson, 18371
LC[62]Widespread in AustraliaAustralian Hobby Pikedale Jul02.JPG
New Zealand FalconFalco novaeseelandiae
Gmelin, 1788
NT[63]Widespread in New Zealandabout 45up to 450NZ Falcon - Karearea 02.JPG
Brown FalconFalco berigora
Gmelin, 1788
LC[64]Widespread in Australia40-50Falco berigora Alice Springs.jpg
Grey FalconFalco hypoleucos
Gould, 1841
NT[65]Australia30-4585-95350-600
Black FalconFalco subniger
Gray, 1843
LC[66]Australia♀:around 55
♂:around 45
Falco subniger.jpg
Lanner FalconFalco biarmicus
Temminck, 1825
LC[67]Southern Europe, Arabian Peninsula, and widespread in Africa43-5095-105Lanner Falcon 800.jpg
Laggar FalconFalco jugger
J.E. Gray, 1834
NT[68]Pakistan to Burma, IndiaLuggerfalke.jpg
Saker FalconFalco cherrug
Gray, 1834
VU[69]Central and southern Europe, northeastern Africa and northern Asia47-55105-129Falco cherrug (Marek Szczepanek).jpg
GyrfalconFalco rusticolus
Linnaeus, 1758
LC[70]Arctic coasts of Northern America, Europe and Asia♀:51-65
♂:48-61
♀:124-160
♂:110-130
♀:1,180-2,100
♂:805-1350
Falco rusticolus white cropped.jpg
Prairie FalconFalco mexicanus
Schlegel, 1850
LC[71]North America and Mexicoavg 40avg 100avg 720USGS Prairie Falcon.jpg
Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus
Tunstall, 1771
LC[72]Widespread worldwide34-5874-120♀:910-1,500
♂:424-750
Falco peregrinus -Nova Scotia, Canada -eating-8.jpg
Barbary FalconFalco pelegrinoides
Temminck, 1829
LC[73]Southwestern Europe and northern Africa33-3976-98Wüstenfalke.jpg
Taita FalconFalco fasciinucha
Reichenow & Neumann, 1895
NT[74]Eastern and southeastern Africa♀:22.9-24.0
♂:20.2-20.8
♀:297-346
♂:212-233
Taita Falcon at the World Center for Birds of Prey, Boise, Idaho, USA.jpg

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Master List: Raptors". IOC World Birld List. International Ornithological Congress. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  2. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Daptrius ater". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  3. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Ibycter americanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  4. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Phalcoboenus carunculatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  5. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Phalcoboenus megalopterus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  6. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Phalcoboenus albogularis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  7. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Phalcoboenus australis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  8. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Caracara cheriway". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c "Crested Caracara Life History". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  10. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Caracara lutosa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Thayer, John E. & Bangs, Outram (1908): The Present State of the Ornis of Guadaloupe Island. Condor 10(3): 101-106. doi:10.2307/1360977 PDF fulltext
  12. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Caracara plancus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c "Info about the Southern Caracara". Zootierliste.de. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  14. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Milvago chimachima". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  15. ^ "Info about the Yellow-headed Caracara". Zootierliste.de. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  16. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Milvago chimango". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  17. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Herpetotheres cachinnans". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c Jiménez, Mariano II & Jiménez, Mariano G. (2003). "El Halcón Guaicurú Herpetotheres cachinnans". El Zoológico Electrónico. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  19. ^ Howell, Steven N.G. & Webb, Sophie (1995). A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854012-4. 
  20. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Micrastur ruficollis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  21. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Micrastur plumbeus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  22. ^ "Species factsheet: Micrastur plumbeus". BirdLife International. 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  23. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Micrastur gilvicollis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  24. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Micrastur mintoni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  25. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Micrastur mirandollei". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  26. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Micrastur semitorquatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  27. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Micrastur buckleyi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  28. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Spiziapteryx circumcincta". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  29. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Polihierax semitorquatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  30. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Polihierax insignis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  31. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Microhierax caerulescens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  32. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Microhierax fringillarius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  33. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Microhierax latifrons". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  34. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Microhierax erythrogenys". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  35. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Microhierax melanoleucos". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  36. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco naumanni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  37. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco tinnunculus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  38. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco newtoni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  39. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco punctatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  40. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco duboisi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  41. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco araea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  42. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco moluccensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  43. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco cenchroides". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  44. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco sparverius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  45. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco rupicoloides". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  46. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco alopex". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  47. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco ardosiaceus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  48. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco dickinsoni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  49. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco zoniventris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  50. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco chicquera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  51. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco vespertinus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  52. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco amurensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  53. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco eleonorae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  54. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco concolor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  55. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco femoralis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  56. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco columbarius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  57. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco rufigularis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  58. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco deiroleucus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  59. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco subbuteo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  60. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco cuvierii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  61. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco severus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  62. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco longipennis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  63. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco novaeseelandiae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  64. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco berigora". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  65. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco hypoleucos". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  66. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco subniger". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  67. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco biarmicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  68. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco jugger". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  69. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco cherrug". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  70. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco rusticolus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  71. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco mexicanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  72. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco peregrinus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  73. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco pelegrinoides". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  74. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Falco fasciinucha". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
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Falconidae

The falcons and caracaras are around 60 species of diurnal birds of prey that make up the family Falconidae. The family is divided into two subfamiles, Polyborinae, which includes the caracaras and forest falcons, and Falconinae, the falcons, kestrels and falconets. They differ from other Falconiformes in killing with their beaks instead of their feet. They have a "tooth" on the side of their beak for the purpose.

Description[edit source | edit]

Falcons and caracaras are small to medium sized birds of prey, ranging in size from the Black-thighed Falconet, which can weight as little as 35 grams (1.2 oz), to the Gyrfalcon, which can weigh as much as 1,735 grams (61.2 oz). They have strongly hooked bills, sharply curved talons and excellent eyesight. The plumage is usually composed of browns, whites, chestnut, black and grey, often with barring of patterning. There is little difference in the plumage of males and females, although a few species have some sexual dimorphism in boldness of plumage.

Distribution and habitat[edit source | edit]

The family has a cosmopolitan distribution across the world, absent only from the densest forest of central Africa, some remote oceanic islands, the high Arctic and Antarctica. Some species have exceptionally wide ranges, particularly the cosmopolitan Peregrine Falcon, which ranges from Greenland to Fiji and has the widest natural breeding distribution of any bird. Other species have more restricted distributions, particularly island endemics like the Mauritius Kestrel. Most habitat types are occupied, from tundra to rainforest and deserts, although they are generally more birds of open country and even forest species tend to prefer broken forest and forest edges. Some species, mostly in the genus Falco, are fully migratory, with some species summering in Eurasia and wintering entirely in Africa, other species may be partly migratory. The Amur Falcon has one of the longest migrations, moving from East Asia to southern Africa.[1]

Behaviour[edit source | edit]

Diet and feeding[edit source | edit]

The Laughing Falcon is a snake-eating specialist.

Falcons and caracaras are carnivores, feeding on birds, small mammals, reptiles, insects and carrion. In popular imagination the falconids are fast flying predators, and while this is true of the genus Falco and some falconets other species, particularly the caracaras are more sedentary in their feeding. The forest falcons of the Neotropics are generalist forest hunters. Several species, particularly the true falcons, will stash food supplies in caches.[2] They are solitary hunters and pairs guard territories, although they may form large flocks during migration. Some species are specialists, the Laughing Falcon specialises in snakes, others are more generalist.

Breeding[edit source | edit]

The Red-footed Falcon is unusual in being a colonial breeding falcon.

The falcons and caracaras are generally solitary breeders, although around 10% of species are colonial, for example the Red-footed Falcon.[3] They are monogamous, although some caracaras may also employ alloparenting stratergies, where younger birds help adults (usually their parents) in raising the next brood of chicks. Nests are generally not built (except by the caracaras), but are co opted from other birds, for example Pygmy Falcons nest in the nests of weavers, or on the ledges on cliffs. Around 2-4 eggs are laid, and mostly incubated by the female. Incubation times vary from species to species and are correlated with body size, lasting 28 days in smaller species and up to 35 days in larger species. Chicks fledge after 28–49 days, again varying with size.

Relations with humans[edit source | edit]

Falcons and caracaras have a complicated relationship with humans. In ancient Egypt they were deified in the form of Horus, the sky and sun god who was the ancestor of the pharaohs. Caracaras also formed part of the legends of the Aztecs, and are today the national emblems of Mexico. Falcons were important in the (formerly often royal) sport of falconry. They have also been persecuted for their predation on game and farm animals, and that persecution has led to the extinction of at least one species, the Guadalupe Caracara. Several insular species have declined dramatically, none more so than the Mauritius Kestrel, which at one time numbered no more than four birds. Around five species of falcon are considered vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN, including the Saker Falcon.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit source | edit]

Traditionally, the raptors were grouped into four families in the single order Falconiformes, but many thought this group to be paraphyletic and not to share a common ancestor to the exclusion of all other birds.

First, multiple lines of evidence in the 1970s and 1980s suggested that the New World vultures Cathartidae were closer related to storks and herons (Ciconiiformes), though more recent place them outside that group as well. Consequently, New World vultures are now often raised to the rank of an independent order Cathartiformes not closely associated with either birds of prey or storks or herons.[4] In 2007, the American Ornithologists' Union's North American checklist moved Cathartidae back into the lead position in Falconiformes, but with an asterisk that indicates it is a taxon "that is probably misplaced in the current phylogenetic listing but for which data indicating proper placement are not yet available".[5]

In Europe, it has become common to split the remaining raptors into two: the falcons and caracaras remain in the order Falconiformes (about 60 species in 4 groups), and the remaining 220-odd species (including the Accipitridae – eagles, hawks, Old World vultures, etc.) are put in the separate order Accipitriformes. An unplaced prehistoric family known only from fossils are the Horusornithidae.

In agreement with the split of Falconiformes and Accipitriformes, comparative genome analysis published in 2008 suggested that falcons are more closely related to the parrots and passerines than to other birds including the Accipitridae, so that the traditional Falconiformes are paraphyletic even if the Cathartidae are excluded.[6] Indeed, a 2011 analysis of transposable element insertions shared between the genomes of falcons, passerines, and parrots, but not present in the genomes of other birds, confirmed that falcons are a sister group of the combined parrot/passerine group, together forming the clade Eufalconimorphae.[7]

The clade Falconidae is compound by the groups Polyborinae and Falconinae. The first contains the caracaras, forest falcons, and Laughing Falcon. All species in this group are native to the Americas.[8] The composition of Falconidae is disputed, and Polyborninae is not featured in the American Ornithologists' Union checklists for North and South American birds. The Check-list of North American Birds considers the Laughing Falcon a true falcon (Falconinae) and replaces Polyborinae with Caracarinae and Micrasturinae.[9] On the other hand, the Check-list of South American Birds classifies all caracaras as true falcons and puts the Laughing Falcon and forest falcons into the subfamily Herpetotherinae.[10]

On the other hand, Falconinae, in its traditional classification, contains the falcons, falconets, and pygmy falcons.[11] Depending on the authority, Falconinae may also include the caracaras and/or the Laughing Falcon.[12][13]

Genera in taxonomic order[edit source | edit]

Family: Falconidae

  • Genus Daptrius – Black Caracara
  • Genus Ibycter – Red-throated Caracara (sometimes included in Daptrius)
  • Genus Phalcoboenus (4 species) - Andean and southern South American caracaras
  • Genus Caracara – crested caracaras (2 living species, 1 extinct)
  • Genus Milvago – brown caracaras (2 species)
  • Genus Herpetotheres – Laughing Falcon
  • Genus Micrastur – forest falcons (7 species)
  • Genus Spiziapteryx – Spot-winged Falconet
  • Genus Polihierax – pygmy falcons (2 species, includes Neohierax)
  • Genus Microhierax – typical falconets (5 species)
  • Genus Falco – true falcons, hobbies and kestrels (around 37 species)

Fossil genera[edit source | edit]

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