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6

Brown Falcon

(Falco berigora)
Alternate name(s): "Brown Hawk", "Cackling Hawk"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "berigora": "kargyne", "dondorn" (WA); "kirkinpa"

Size: 40-50 cm; wing span 0.9-1.2 m

Similar species

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

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Brown Falcon at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

Light brown morphology

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a Brown Falcon
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

The same Brown Falcon as above, now with its head turned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

Very pale, probably male, Brown Falcon (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP, far north-western QLD, July 2007]

Very pale, probably male, Brown Falcon (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP, far north-western QLD, July 2007]

Lateral view of a light-morphology male Brown Falcon
[Near Terry Hie Hie, NSW, June 2013]

Light-morphology male Brown Falcon shortly after takeoff, showing its underwing pattern
[Near Terry Hie Hie, NSW, June 2013]

Brown Falcon shortly after takeoff, showing its upperwing pattern
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

Here the same Brown Falcon as above, keeping an eye on a pursuing raven; note how, depending on light conditions, its plumage appears a lot darker than shown below (the same bird)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

Brown Falcon hovering above its prey (click on image to see a slightly different posture)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2008]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Immature Brown Falcon
[Near Hawker, SA, March 2008]

Frontal view from beneath of a very pale immature Brown Falcon
[Byfield NP, QLD, July 2009]

Photo of the same Brown Falcon as above, at a less acute angle
[Byfield NP, QLD, July 2009]

This Brown Falcon has a few peculiarities; it has a very light morphology and in this photo seems to have a yellow cere and eye-ring, which is typical of Nankeen Kestrels; but the plumage, grey legs and brown thigh patches are indicative of a Brown Falcon (possibly an immature bird).
[Goran Lake, NSW, September 2011]

Possibly the same Brown Falcon as shown above, here clearly with grey cere and eye-ring
[Goran Lake, NSW, August 2011]

Lateral view of the same Brown Falcon as shown above in flight
[Goran Lake, NSW, April 2013]

Dorsal view of the same Brown Falcon as shown above, taking off from a picket (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Goran Lake, NSW, August 2011]

Dark-brown morphology

ADULT

Near-frontal view of a particularly dark Brown Falcon (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Harparary, NSW, May 2013]

Frontal view of an adult Brown Falcon (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Currawinya NP, QLD, October 2012]

Lateral view of a Brown Falcon (photo courtesy of M. Mearns) [Currawinya NP, QLD, October 2012]

Lateral view of a Brown Falcon, now with its head turned (photo courtesy of M. Mearns) [Currawinya NP, QLD, October 2012]

Dorsal view of a dark Brown Falcon in flight (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Harparary, NSW, May 2013]

Near-frontal view of a Brown Falcon
[Near Manilla, NSW, July 2010]

Near-lateral view of a Brown Falcon
[Near Maules Creek, NSW, March 2009]

Lateral view of a Brown Falcon
[Near Maules Creek, NSW, March 2009]

Dorsal view of a Brown Falcon (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Near Moree, NSW, April 2014]

Ventral view of a Brown Falcon in a dead tree

The same Brown Falcon as in the photo above, seen at a slightly different angle

If identified correctly, these two are Brown Falcons; the smaller bird is an adult, most likely male, while the larger one must be a female
[Near Boggabri, NSW, May 2009]

Closer view of the same female Brown Falcon as in the photo above
[Near Boggabri, NSW, May 2009]

These shots taken in rainy conditions show a pair of Brown Falcons, with the female on the left and the male on the right ; note the difference in both morphology and size/strength
[Goran Lake, NSW, February 2013]

Brown Falcon taking off from a dead treetop
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, April 2006]

Brown Falcon shortly after takeoff
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Brown Falcon keeping an eye on the observer
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Rufous morphology

ADULT

Near-frontal view of a rufous morphology Brown Falcon
[Near Burren Junction, NSW, June 2011]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

This one almost got away... immature Brown Falcon close-up
[Near Walgett, NSW, October 2010]

The same immature Brown Falcon as shown above, here seen flying away
[Near Walgett, NSW, October 2010]

Frontal view of an immature Brown Falcon in flight (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Nov Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 31 - 35 days Fledging age: ca. 30 days

The breeding season of Brown Falcons depends on geographical latitude. In the South of the continent, they breed in the local spring, whereas in the tropical North they nest during the local dry season (ca. April-September).

Twitcher's tip

Note that, by the time they fledge (i.e., leave their nest), the young of all species of raptors - apart from the tail and wing feathers (which are still growing) - are already full adult-size.

For species of raptors with a pronounced size dimorphism between the sexes (the female is always bigger than the male), the obvious consequence is that a female near-fledging age chick already dwarfs not only any male siblings, but also its father.

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female/male

The male feeds the female on the nest during the incubation period.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket (re-used) Material: Sticks, lined with green leaves Height above ground: >10 m

Brown Falcons do not build their own nests, but re-use nests of other raptors, Corvids, Australian Magpies or similar.

Brown Falcon chick in what looks like a re-used Corvids' nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)

Eggs

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

Size: 49 x 38 mm Colour: Creamy, with reddish and dark-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary Elementary unit: Solitary/pair

Brown Falcons are the first bird species to re-enter bushland after a bushfire, looking for prey that has been killed by the fire. In more open country, this role falls to Black Kites.

To our surprise we found a female Brown Falcon scavenging on a kangaroo carcass in June 2013.

Frontal view of a Brown Falcon on a levee bank; it and its partner used the disturbance created by a combine harvester to pick locusts out of the air
[Near Bellata, NSW, October 2013]

Food, Diet

Adults: Small rodents, lizards, snakes, birds Dependents: As adults Water intake: None

All raptors are carnivores. Brown Falcons prey on small mammals, lizards, snakes and ground birds, which are taken on the ground.

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.

Light-brown morphology Brown Falcon with a mouse it has just caught (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, June 2016]

This dark-morphology Brown Falcon was seen by us carrying away its prey...
[Near Walgett, NSW, April 2012]

... and nibbling on it in-flight
[Near Walgett, NSW, April 2012]

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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