Black Falcon

Did you know?

The Black Falcon is a superb flier, hanging in the air or gliding on long wings and soaring on thermals rising from the hot inland plains. When hunting, it has a spectacular high-speed stoop, diving down to level out and snatch prey from the air or the ground without landing.

Calls
Deep harsh chatter, slow whining and soft whistle; but usually silent
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
45cm
Maximum Size: 
55cm
Average size: 
50cm
Average weight: 
750g
Breeding season: 
June to December
Clutch Size: 
3 to 4 eggs
Incubation: 
33 days
Nestling Period: 
42 days
Conservation Status
Federal: 
NSW: 
NT: 
QLD: 
SA: 
WA: 
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Atlas Number: 
238
What does it look like?
Description: 

The Black Falcon is a raptor (bird of prey) and is the largest of the Australian falcons. It is slim and uniformly dark brown to sooty black, with a pale throat. The bill and feet are blueish-white. The feathered legs are short and, when perched, this falcon has squared shoulders. Females are larger than males. In flight, the broad wings taper to a fine point and the long narrow tail has a squared tip, with a step at the corners. It glides with slightly drooped wings.

Similar species: 

The Black Falcon is larger than dark phases of the related Brown FalconF. berigora, and has a plain rather than barred tail. The Brown Falcon flies with slow rowing strokes, while the Black Falcon flies with swift powerful beats. Another similar raptor, the Black Kite,Milvus migrans, has fingered wings and a long forked tail.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

The Black Falcon is endemic (only found in Australia) and is sparsely spread in the inland and across northern, eastern, southern and central Australia. It is not found in Tasmania.

Habitat: 

The Black Falcon is found along tree-lined watercourses and in isolated woodlands, mainly in arid and semi-arid areas. It roosts in trees at night and often on power poles by day.

Seasonal movements: 

The Black Falcon may move to coastal areas in the southern part of its range. It has regular seasonal movements, or is nomadic, depending on seasonal conditions and the availablity of food.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

Common prey items are birds, small mammals, insects and reptiles and sometimes carrion (dead animals). Black Falcons also steal prey from other raptors. When prey is sighted, the bird swoops down and grasps it in its claws (talons), killing the prey with a bite to the spine. The powerful bill has specialised 'tomial teeth' and matching notches for this purpose.

Breeding: 

Black Falcons nest along tree-lined creeks and rivers of inland drainage systems. Eggs are laid in the abandoned stick nests of other birds, usually high in a tree. The female mainly incubates, broods and feeds the nestlings, while the male brings food. Both parents may bring food when the nestlings are older.

Living with us

Black Falcons are generally uncommon, but may be increasing in numbers after clearing and with increases in prey such as galahs, rabbits and starlings. They often gather and soar above fires, shooters or workers, watching for flushed prey.

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