Aplomado Falcon

Aplomado Falcon

Details About The Aplomado Falcon

  • General Information

    Found in the United States in southwest areas until 1930s, this species began making a comeback in Texas and New Mexico in 1991. Though the true cause of their disappearance in the United States is unknown, ornithologists believe cattle overgrazing (and thus destruction of habitat for prey species), collection of eggs and specimens by private collectors, relay toxicity, climate change, or a combination of these factors influenced their decline. The birds are currently listed as a species of Least Concern as they are globally widespread, but they have become extirpated in much of their range. Pesticides such as DDT continue to be used in parts of Mexico and South America and have negatively impacted the species.  In many areas they are also negatively impacted by habitat loss, lead poisoning, electrocution, and nest disturbance. In 1990, the United States came up with a federal recovery plan to bring the Aplomado back from the brink. Research and observation of wild Aplomados has led to increased knowledge of their habitat requirements, breeding habits, and overall lifestyle. A captive breeding program was started and around 100 young are released each year back into the wild, leading to the establishment of over 30 breeding pairs that are now reproducing in the wild.

    Latin Name: Falco femoralis
    Class: Aves
    Order: Falconiformes
    Family: Falconidae
    Length: 12-16 inches
    Weight: 7-16 ounces
    Wingspan: 36 inches
    Common Name: Banded falcon, bat falcon
    Etymology: falco (Latin)- refers to sickle-shaped talons or the shape of the wings in flight; Aplomado (Spanish) - "lead colored"--refers to wings and back

  • Flight, Voice & Habitat

    The Aplomado Falcon has long wings and performs an agile flight. It can hover when hunting and pursue birds in flight. It is an energetic flier and flies with powerful wing beats. Similar to the Merlin, these birds flush their prey, then fly after it in great bursts of speed. It's admired for its accipiter-like hunting style, which has made the bird famous for being more like an accipiter than a falcon.

    The Aplomado Falcon utters screams keeh-keeh-keeh or ee-ee-ee-ee. It also gives a single, sharp keeh or kiih.

    This falcon prefers dry grasslands, savannas and marshes. It is visible from the moist tropical lowlands to Altiplano and Puna in the Andes. In Tierra del Fuego, it frequents similar habitats and occurs up to 4,000 meters of elevation.

  • Nesting

    Breeding season varies according to the range but often occurs in dry season, approximately between March and May. The Aplomado Falcon does not build nests but it uses abandoned stick nests of Corvids or other raptors such as Red-tailed Hawk and Swainson’s Hawk. Such nests are placed in trees or tall shrubs.

  • Distribution

    The Aplomado Falcon can be found throughout northern Mexico down to South America and also in parts of the US Southwest.

  • Food

    Like most falcons, they are primarily bird eaters but can often be spotted at dusk hunting and eating insects. In parts of Brazil, Aplomado Falcons have been observed following packs of Maned wolves and preying on the birds these mammals flush while running through the brush.

  • Current Resident Birds

    Sonoma, the Aplomado Falcon, was just three months old when he was transferred to Carolina Raptor Center from a North Carolina breeder. Native to South America, this small falcon was named in memory of two of Carolina Raptor Center's previous falcon residents.

  • Fun Facts & Other Interesting Information

    Aplomado Falcons do not build their own nests, but they "squat" in old nests or "flip" freshly constructed nests of other raptors or corvids. If you move, you lose!

    During the time of Shakespeare a new bird from the New World came upon the falconry scene in Spain, Portugal and France. It was known to courtiers of Henry IV and Louis XIII as the Alethe... prized as "high mettled" partridge hawks." Jim Nelson has researched and has first written that the true identity of the Old World Alethe is the modern day aplomado falcon.