[Species] | Aplomado falcon
The aplomado falcon (Falco femoralis) is a medium-sized falcon that inhabits the Americas, most of it’s range stretching across South America. Notable is that despite mostly occurring in South America, they do not live in the deep interior Amazon Basin.
Both sexes reach roughly the same size with females being slightly larger. The range in length is from 38 to 43 centimetres, with a quite variable weight from only 200 to up to 500 grams, and a mean wingspan of 89 centimetres. Aplomado falcons are colourful in comparison to other closely related species, with a bold black-and-white striped face. Adults are dark brown to slate blue above and tricoloured (white, black and rufous) below. A dark band separates the white to buffy chest from the rusty lower belly.
Throughout their range these birds of prey inhabit deserts, savannahs, marshes and in Brazil they’re common residents of large cities. Although their overall distribution ranges from within the USA to southernmost South America, they are considered endangered in the USA and northern Mexico.
Aplomado falcons can often be seen soaring at twilight, eating their prey on the wing. They also hunt at fields being burned, at which members of this species not only gather, but sometimes even cooperate. In Brazil they’re also known to follow maned wolves, feeding on the birds flushed by them. Sometimes aplomado falcons - usually two individuals of a pair - pass food to each other mid-air.
Their diet consists of large invertebrates and small vertebrates, with small birds making up the vast majority of it. Notable is that small birds show greater response to this species than they do to most other predators, and mixed-species flocks will go on frenzied alert when an aplomado falcon is spotted.
They nest in trees and yucas of open grasslands, oak woodlands, and wooded areas near marshes. Instead of building their own nest, aplomado falcons use stick nests built by other raptors or by corvids. Some of the species whose nest they commonly occupy are roadside hawks, white-tailed kites, grey hawks, common black hawks, crested caracaras, white-tailed hawks, brown jays and Chihuahuan ravens.
Each year they have one brood with clutches ranging in size from 2 to 4 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 31 to 32 days and the chicks fledge after another 28 to 40 days. Although males develop faster than females, and are recorded to leave the nest sooner than them, they ultimately grow smaller. Sexual maturity is reached by the age of two.
Although this species has been rare north of the Mexican boarder since almost a century, and maybe more, a few have reappeared in New Mexico and western Texas, and there has been a major attempt to reintroduce them to various places in southern Texas. In South America they remain abundant and widespread, and thus are considered a species of least concern.
Photo credits: Rich Parkinson, 48 Wyndham Photography
Sources: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Wikipedia The Free Encyclopaedia, Audubon Society, The Peregrine Fund
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July 11, 2021 - Blyth's Rosefinch or Himalayan Rosefinch (Carpodacus grandis)
These finches are found in forests and shrubland from northern Afghanistan to the western Himalayas. They feed on seeds, buds, and berries, including those from juniper, wild rose, and barberry, generally foraging on the ground. Breeding between May and July, they build cup-shaped nests low in bushes from plant fibers, grass, strips of juniper bark, and hair.
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