Monday, 28 March 2011

Amur falcon

Falco amurensis

Common name:

Order Falconiformes
Family Falconidae

This species breeds in south-eastern Siberia, northern China and North Korea and has an extremely long migration, wintering in southern Africa in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa.

Amur falcons are 26-30 cm long and have a wingspan of 63-71 cm. Females tend to be larger than male, weighing 111-188 g, while males weigh 97-155 g.

These bird typically inhabit open woodland, including marshy and riverine woodland, as well as wooded steppe around boreal coniferous forests. In winter, they may be found in savanna and grassland, roosting communally in clumps of trees, and often roosting in towns.

Their main prey are insects, namely locusts, grasshoppers, beetles and flying termites, usually taken in flight. They can also hunt small mammals and birds, amphibians and reptiles. The young are mostly fed vertebrate prey, while adults are predominantly insectivorous.

Amur falcons typically lay their eggs in May-June. Breeding pairs are either solitary or form small colonies. The nests can be built on tree holes, but most often an abandoned nest is used, usually from corvids like Corvus frugilegus or from other raptors. There the female lays 3-4 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 28-30 days. Both parents feed the chicks, who fledge about 1 month after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a global population of 1 million individuals and a very large breeding range. Some of the grassland regions they favour during winter are under severe pressure from agriculture and afforestation, but the population is believed to be stable and they are not considered threatened at present.

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