Pygmy Falcon is a cute little creature. This bird is a courageous and fearless raptor found in the region of Africa. Although it is small in size but is one of the amazing defenders of its nest. Its hunting abilities are not less than a large raptor. Due to such hunting powers, it can easily cut down predators like snakes and other animals, which make this bird beneficial for nest guests in the area.
What will I learn?
- 1 Pygmy Falcon- Lifestyle and Behavior
- 2 Conclusion
To know more about the habitat, breeding, and behavior of this cute and courageous bird read the article it is all about the lifestyle of the pygmy falcon.
Pygmy Falcon- Lifestyle and Behavior
Pygmy falcon bird belongs to the family Falconidae. It belongs to the genus Polihierax and the scientific name of this species is P. semitorquatus.
The Appearance of Pygmy Falcon:
These birds are small in size and are considered as small raptors in Africa. The adult birds are almost the size of a pencil i.e. their size is almost 8 inches. Wingspan spreads to 14 inches and they weigh ranges from 42 to 85 grams.
Color Pygmy Falcon:
These small birds are white from the below side of their body and are grey from the upper part. Male and females can be differentiated on the basic fact that female pygmy falcons have chestnut mantle between its wings whereas males have grey color. The color of their wings during a flight is black with white spots.
Their heads are also grey, eyes are brown and have light orange color feet and legs. Moreover, it also has orange-colored rings around its sharp-pointed beak.
Their flight usually includes flapping wings rapidly with a downward thrust.
The lifespan of Pygmy Falcon:
The average lifespan of the pygmy falcon is 6 to 8 years but if they live in a managed environment they can live up to 20 years.
Range & Habitat:
Pygmy falcons are native to Africa and inhabit Southern Africa. They live in arid to semi-arid conditions including dry bushes, savannahs, scrublands, lands with scattered trees, and sparse cover. Moreover. They avoid areas with dense forests, open forests, and forest edges.
These birds are sedentary and do not show any migrations far of places. But they do exhibit some movements in the region locally. In summers they may sometime approach moist habitats to tackle the heat.
In winters they remain the weaver nest for 15 hours and exhibit a moderate level of hypothermia as well.
Feeding and diet:
Pygmy falcons are small raptors and are carnivorous. They primarily feed on insects, reptiles, rodents, birds, and other small mammals. Moreover, when they see a yummy target, they bob their head and tails before preying on them.
They also perch from a tree and capture their prey from the ground and do not capture prey during a flight. They usually capture their prey/ hunt during morning and evening.
Further, these birds are very sharp and fearless so they are very rarely preyed on. Usually, predators attack young ones in their nest but the aggression shown by the parent falcons most of the time prevents them.
Vocalization and Calls:
Pygmy falcons communicate with the help of songs. Their calls are mostly sharp and high pitched. During the courtship period, they sing songs to attract their male counterparts. Moreover, females also show crouching movements and raise tails to indicate their availability to males.
Moreover. Like other diurnal birds, they also have a very sharp sense of sight. They usually do not sing after the breeding season but their calls include sharp squeaky “kiki-kik” or “twee-twee-twip” by the male partner to call a female partner.
Young one uses a call of ki-ki-ki-ki to call their parents, and kirrrr-kirrrrr-kirrrr and see-seee sounds are used during the courtship period.
Breeding of Pygmy Falcon:
These falcons usually breed once a year but sometimes they also give two broods in a year when conditions are favorable. There breeding season in June and ends in December in falcons living in northern Africa.
For falcons living in South Africa, breeding season starts in August and end in March
The pygmy falcons engage themselves in a polyandrous relationship where there is more than one male during the time of mating. The males live together with the female and help to look after the young ones.
There are four possible reasons for this polyandrous relationship; they may exhibit this behavior as a defensive mechanism, to exhibit co-operative polyandry, to delay the dispersal of young ones, and to thermo-regulate themselves.
Pygmy falcons of Africa do not make their nests. They largely rely on the nest of weaver bird to roost and nest. In southern Africa, these falcons rely on the nests of sociable weavers, and in northern region Africa they rely on white-headed buffalo weavers nest. They may also roost in the nests or holes of sparrow weavers and glossy starlings.
Pygmy falcons are not just moochers. Roosting and nesting in the nests of weaver birds is a kind of symbiotic relationship. Pygmy Falcons living in the nest protect the nest and the area from snakes and other predators. So they are also known as “Nest Pirates”
These falcons usually lay eggs 2 to 4 eggs in a season. Their eggs exhibit asynchronous hatching, this means that the eggs do not hatch at the same time so they are not of the same size. The female and male both look after the eggs and incubate them for 28 to 30 days.
Young ones are born after 28 to 30 days and remain in the nest for another 27 to 40 days. When these nestling at the age of 21 days attain feather female falcon starts hunting again. During this time both males and females look after the nestling and feed them. Although these birds are very small they are very brave and courageous and chase their predators large than themselves without any fear to protect their nest, eggs or chicks
Nestling fledges after 27 to 40 days but remains with their parents for up to two months. Moreover, these young ones attain maturity after 1 year.
As mentioned above falcons can form a mutualistic relationship and prevent nest of other birds from predators. They form a mutualistic relationship with Social weavers, glossy starling, and white-browed sparrow weavers.
They can also be parasitic to some species for example white head buffalo weaver is a stronger bird than falcons so for them they act as parasites.
Pygmy falcons are distributed at a wider range. These small fearless birds rarely allow some predators to attack them. Moreover, their flexible diet also allows them to survive harsh conditions. Further, they face the very least human interruption in their lives. So their population is stable and is of least concern according to the IUCN red list.
Pygmy falcons are very cute little as well as courageous birds of prey. These small birds are so aggressive that they rarely allow any predator to attack them. They are active, feeds on a wide range of small animals, and defend their nests so effectively that left us thinking about how these small birds manage to do so.
They do not play any major role in the environment of the economy but are very beautiful to watch. Hence they represent a beautiful sight for bird watchers.