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Friendly falcon

March 18, 2020

We have been enjoying watching our resident Brown Falcon, Falco berigora, hunting at the back of our property where it remains quite unperturbed even under close observation.

The Brown Falcon is not a typical falcon in its methods of flying and feeding. Its flight is rather slow and heavy and it is often seen perched in the open on a fence post or dead tree branch. It is capable of hovering, somewhat clumsily, but its most common hunting method is to scan the ground from its perch and glide down quietly onto its prey, which it grabs in its talons. We have also watched one running and hopping around comically on the ground, chasing grasshoppers. Unlike some other falcons, it is less likely to pursue birds in the air, although it is certainly capable of it.

One of the most common and widespread of Australia’s raptors, the Brown Falcon is not always immediately identifiable due to its highly variable plumage, from a uniform dusky dark brown through mostly rufous, to brown above with whitish underparts, like the one pictured. The consistent giveaway for identifying this species is the facial markings, with a dark “tear drop” stripe below its eye and another dark patch on its pale cheek. It also helps to know that this is one of the noisiest raptors, with a characteristic cackling call in flight.

Not only is our falcon entertaining and quite tame, it is also performing a service by keeping some pests in check, hopefully including the occasional small rabbit!

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