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Black Falcon

(Falco subniger)
Size: 45 cm (male) 55 cm (female); wing span 0.95-1.1 m
Weight: 480-650 g (male), 710-950 g (female)


Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Black Falcon at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information




Lateral view, with a direct comparison of a male Black Falcon, lower left, with a Black Kite (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Darwin, NT, August 2013]

Ventral view of a male Black Falcon in slow flight
[Narrabri, NSW, September 2013]

Ventral view of a male Black Falcon in flight; note the almost homogeneously dark-brown appearance
[Narrabri, NSW, September 2013]


Frontal view of a (probably female) Black Falcon (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Darwin, NT, July 2013]

Near-dorsal view of a (probably female) Black Falcon (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Darwin, NT, July 2013]

Dorsal view of a female Black Falcon looking back (photo courtesy of J. Boettcher, FNQ Nature Tours)
[Adels Grove, near Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP, QLD, December 2020]

Frontal/ventral view of a female Black Falcon in flight; note how the flight feathers appear to be a lighter shade of grey-brown, because the grey spot pattern is not resolved at this resolution
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]

Near-lateral/ventral view of a female Black Falcon in flight
[Goran Lake, 30 km S of Gunnedah, NSW, March 2023]

Lateral view of a female Black Falcon in flight (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, October 2018]

Lateral/ventral view of a female Black Falcon in flight
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]

Ventral view of a female Black Falcon in flight
[Near Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2023]

Breeding information

Breeding season: July - Sep Eggs: 3 - 4 Incubation period: ca. 33 days Fledging age: ca. 40 days

The timing of the breeding season depends on geographic latitude; the period listed in the table above applies to the south-eastern part of the Australian continent. Black Falcons can, in principle, breed from June to December.

Nest building: N/A Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female & male

The female incubates the eggs and also stays in the nest with the chicks until they are strong enough to be left alone. Until then, female and chicks depend entirely on the male to provide them with food.


"bungobittah", "lar", "malunna", "jindi" [bundjalung] = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket (re-used) Material: Sticks Height above ground: <10 m

Black Falcons do not build their own nests. They either re-use or take over nests of other species - either other raptors' or those of corvids (ravens or crows). They may scrape off material they don't want to use, but they do not refurbish the nest.

Female Black Falcon on its recycled Australian Raven nest, top, with the male perched on a lower branch, bottom; part of the tree, with the nest in it, was destroyed in a storm in December 2016 and the clutch was lost (photo courtesy of K. Fisher)
[Tamworth Airport, NSW, August 2016]


"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "mirk", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena", "pum-pum" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 42 x 32 mm Colour: Creamy, with brown to chestnut speckles all over Shape: Ellipsoidal

Food, Diet

All raptors are carnivores. Black Falcons prey mostly on smaller birds, such as quails, parrots and finches, but will take lizards and small mammals as well.

During the first few weeks, raptors feed their chicks with pieces of meat. Later on in their development, the chicks learn to tear apart their parents' prey.

Lateral/ventral view of a Black Falcon with its prey, a small bird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Atkinson, QLD, May 2020]

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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