Falco fasciinucha (Taita falcon) 

Taitavalk [Afrikaans]; Taita-valk [Dutch]; Faucon taita [French]; Kurzschwanzfalke [German]; Falc„o de Taita [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora >Aves (birds) > Order: Falconiformes > Family: Falconidae

Falco fasciinucha (Taita falcon)   

Taita falcon, outside the JG Strydom Tunnel, South Africa. [photo Adam Riley ©, Rockjumper Birding Tours]

 

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in a band from Ethiopia through western Kenya to northern Tanzania, with isolated populations in southern Zambia, Malawi and southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is rare in patches of Zimbabwe and central Mozambique, with isolated records from the area around the JG Strydom Tunnel in the Limpopo Province, South Africa (see photo above). It generally prefers mountainous and riverine habitats with cliffs, such as dense lowveld bushveld, Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) and miombo (Brachystegia) woodland on escarpments and inselbergs.

Distribution of Taita 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

Though to be highly sedentary, although it may move to more open areas in the non-breeding season.

Food 

It almost exclusively eats small birds caught aerially, usually near a cliff. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester with a long-term pair bond.
  • The nest is typically a simple scrape in a depression or sheltered rock ledge, on a large vertical crag or a less prominent cliff overlooking woodland or a river valley. It has also been once recorded to use the stick nest of White-necked raven.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-October.
  • It lays 3-4 eggs which are mainly incubated by the female for about 34 days.
  • The chicks are fed about ten times per day, leaving the nest after about 42 days and sometimes remaining dependent on their parents for at least another two months.

Threats

Globally Near-threatened, as it has an estimated population of less than 500 breeding pairs spread across a fragmented distribution. This status is thought to have been caused by its specialised habitat requirements, which leave it seriously vulnerable to habitat loss, such as the clearing of woodland and flooding of rivers.

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. 

 
 
 

 Contact us if you can contribute information or images to improve this page.

Birds home   Biodiversity Explorer home   Iziko home   Search