Falco chicquera (Red-necked falcon) 

Rooinekvalk [Afrikaans]; Kakodi (generic term for sparrowhawks, goshawks, kestrels and falcons) [Kwangali]; Rukodzi (generic name for a small raptor such as falcon or sparrowhawk) [Shona]; Rigamani, Rikhozi (generic terms for some falcons) [Tsonga]; Roodkopsmelleken [Dutch]; Faucon chicquera [French]; Rothalsfalke [German]; Falc„o-de-nuca-vermelha [Portuguese]

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Falco chicquera (Red-necked falcon) Falco chicquera (Red-necked falcon)

Red-necked falcon, Kgalagadi National Park, South Africa. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Distribution and habitat

It has isolated populations in both India and sub-Saharan Africa, absent from much of the DRC and West Africa. In southern Africa it is generally uncommon in patches of Namibia, Botswana, northern Zimbabwe, north-west South Africa and central Mozambique. It generally prefers open savanna woodland, but it also occurs in Hyphaene palm savanna.

Distribution of Red-necked falcon in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Generally resident and sedentary, as pairs usually remain in their territories year-round. It is sometimes nomadic so that it can exploit temporarily abundant food sources.

Food 

It mainly eats small to medium-sized birds, supplemented with small mammals and insects, taken either aerially or from the ground. It often hunts in pairs; the larger female flushes a bird which the male then takes down aerially. The Gabar goshawk may also take the role of the female, flushing prey so that the Red-necked falcon can catch it, after which they both feed on the carcass; a unique partnership among falcons. It is even agile and fast enough to hunt swallows aerially in dramatic chases, and may also ambush prey from a concealed position in the tree canopy.  The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, with a long pair bond.
  • It usually uses the stick nest of a crow or large raptor, placed at the top of a tree or at the base of a Borassus or Hyphaene palm frond, sometimes displacing the active breeding pair who built the nest.
  • Egg-laying season is from July-October, peaking from August-September.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs which are incubated solely by the female for about 32-34 days, while the male delivers food to her at the nest.
  • The chicks are brooded constantly by the female until they are 5-6 days old, at which point the female starts to help the male hunt for food. They eventually leave the nest at 34-37 days old, probably becoming fully independent 1-3 months later.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact it is well-represented in protected areas and has benefited from artificial water bodies in arid areas.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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