Members of the genus Macheiramphus are medium-sized kites, proportioned similarly to a large falcon with pointed wings. They have a very small, compressed and keeled beak, but an enormous gape (small bats and birds are swallowed whole). They are crepuscular, and have very large eyes. The legs and the digits are long and slender, and the talons are very sharp. They have fully feathered lores and a short pointed occipital crest. The young are like the adults. The Bat Hawk forms a distinct genus which is close to the Elanus kites. It has some resemblance in habits and appearance to Aviceda, which may be its closest relative.
There is but one species, which is in tropical Africa, Madagascar, and Asia.
Immatures are more brown and more mottled than the adult, with paler colour on bases of tail feathers, and have more white on the breast.
|wingspan min.:||0||cm||wingspan max.:||0||cm|
|size min.:||40||cm||size max.:||45||cm|
|incubation min.:||28||days||incubation max.:||35||days|
|fledging min.:||35||days||fledging max.:||40||days|
The nest is often built in the same tree that the birds rest in through the day. Both sexes build, but the female does more than the male. Twigs are broken off dead branches in flight, and many are dropped. It is usually high up in a tree, usually built on a large lateral limb, but sometimes in the middle of the tree. It is a fair-sized structure about three feet across by one foot deep, with a broad shallow cup, sometimes unlined, unlike other birds of prey. Both in the East and in Africa it sometimes nests in busy towns.
Only the female incubates, and she sits very close during the day, taking only an occasional flight. At dusk she leaves the nest and flies around, but does not always hunt for herself. Often the male feeds her on the nest or near it. The incubation period is estimated at about a month.
The young fledge in about 35-40 days, and are fed by both parents. The nestling only fed during the last fifteen to twenty minutes before dark. During this time the feeding rate is rapid, once every three or four minutes, and the parents often deposit the food on the nest edge and fly off, returning shortly with more. The prey brought to the young often includes insects. During the early part of the fledging period the female remains on the nest with the young, but in the last week or ten days of the period the parents both sit on branches of the nest tree or adjacent trees.
The young only remain in the vicinity of the nest for a short time after fledging. Theses birds are regular breeders, rearing one young per pair in most years.
Video Bat Hawk
copyright: Keith Blomerley