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Red-footed Falcon

Falco vespertinus

  • Family: Falcons – Falconidae
  • Appearance: A medium-sized falcon. Mature males are bluish grey with red legs and red plumage around their legs, females have yellowish under parts and bluish grey upper parts. Juveniles resemble juvenile Hobbies. Sometimes hovers like a Kestrel.
  • Size: Length 28–34 cm, wingspan 65–76 cm, weight 230–265 g.
  • Nest: In an old squirrel drey or a disused nest abandoned by crows or other birds of prey. Female may add nest material such as straw.
  • Breeding: 1–5 eggs laid in May, incubated by both parents for 27–28 days. Young able to fly within 27–30 days.
  • Distribution: A rare summer visitor in Finland, most often seen on migration in late spring or early autumn. Within main breeding range mostly occurs in open habitats including steppes and river valleys, where nests in colonies that can be home to hundreds of birds. Only occasionally nests in Finland, where breeding population numbers 0–5 pairs.
  • Migration: May be seen in Finland between May and September. Winters in Africa.
  • Diet: Mainly insects.
  • Calls: Vociferous at nesting sites, most common call a rattling “kekekeke…”
  • Endangerment: Globally Near threatened.

Mature male Red-footed Falcons are almost totally dark bluish grey in colouring (sometimes appearing black in poor light) except for the bright red plumage around their legs and vent (like a pair of red shorts), and paler grey wing feathers visible on birds in flight. Females have rusty yellowish caps and underparts, with faint streaking on the belly and flanks. Females’ backs are bluish grey with crosswise dark streaks. They have white throats and necks beneath their black eye patches and a moustache-like stripe. Juveniles have more clearly streaked underparts, brownish grey upperparts, and facial markings similar to those on mature females. Juveniles lack the rusty yellow colouring of mature females, and are difficult to distinguish from juvenile Hobbies).

Red-footed Falcons have reddish orange legs (paler on juveniles). Males have reddish orange beaks with black tips, while females’ and juveniles’ beaks are bluish grey with a yellowish base. Red-footed Falcons’ beaks have a reddish orange cere, and dark irises surrounded by a reddish orange eye ring.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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