The pygmy falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus) or African pygmy falcon is a bird of prey native to eastern and southern Africa. It is the only species placed in the genus Polihierax. It is the smallest bird of prey on the African continent.
What does Pygmy Falcon look like
The Pygmy Falcon is a small bird of prey that is native to Africa. It has a compact, streamlined body, with a total length of about 25-30 cm and a wingspan of approximately 50-60 cm.
The Pygmy Falcon has a distinctive appearance, with a small head, hooked beak, and bright yellow eyes. The upperparts are brown with dark streaking, while the underparts are pale with dark barring. The tail is short and squared, with dark bands. The legs and feet are yellow.
Males and females look similar, although females tend to be slightly larger than males. Juveniles have more streaked underparts than adults and their eyes are dark, not yellow.
Pygmy Falcon habitat
The Pygmy Falcon is found in a variety of habitats across its range in Africa, including deserts, savannas, and semi-arid regions. It is often found near rock formations, as these provide suitable nesting sites and hunting perches.
In some parts of its range, the Pygmy Falcon is also known to occur in agricultural and pastoral lands, where it can hunt insects and small mammals in open grasslands. The bird is well-adapted to life in arid environments and can withstand high temperatures and low humidity.
While the Pygmy Falcon has a wide distribution, it is not common and is considered to be a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List. Nevertheless, it is threatened by habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation in some areas, particularly due to human activities such as mining and agriculture.
What do Pygmy Falcons eat
The pygmy falcon feeds mainly on insects, including beetles, locusts, and caterpillars, as well as small reptiles and mammals, such as lizards, snakes, and mice. They hunt by perching on a high vantage point and swooping down to catch their prey. Some Pygmy Falcons have also been observed hunting in pairs, with one bird flushing out prey and the other bird capturing it.
Distribution area of Pygmy Falcon
Distributed in Africa from Ethiopia, Somalia, northeastern Uganda, Kenya to northern Tanzania, and from Angola, Namibia to northwestern South Africa. Inhabit deserts and semi-deserts with sparse vegetation.