Black Falcon (Falco subniger)

Black Falcon

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Falco subniger | [authority] Gray, 1843 | [UK] Black Falcon | [FR] Faucon noir | [DE] Russfalke | [ES] Halcon Negro | [NL] Zwarte Valk


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Falco subniger AU Australia


Members of the genus falco are mostly medium-sized falcons, but vary from the large peregrine falcon to the small American kestrel. The wings are long and pointed and used almost continuously during flight. The bill is short, powerful, and with a distinct ‘tooth’ on each side. Most falcons of this group have a black teardrop-shaped ‘mustache’ mark on each side of the head. Falcons are fastflying birds of open country and are famous for attaining high speeds as they dive from high altitudes to knock birds out of the air.

Physical charateristics

The Black Falcon is a raptor (bird of prey) and is the largest of the Australian falcons. It is slim and uniformly dark brown to sooty black, with a pale throat. The bill and feet are blueish-white. The feathered legs are short and, when perched, this falcon has squared shoulders. Females are larger than males. In flight, the broad wings taper to a fine point and the long narrow tail has a squared tip, with a step at the corners. It glides with slightly drooped wings.

Listen to the sound of Black Falcon

[audio: Falcon.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Macaulay, Linda R

wingspan min.: 97 cm wingspan max.: 115 cm
size min.: 45 cm size max.: 56 cm
incubation min.: 32 days incubation max.: 36 days
fledging min.: 38 days fledging max.: 49 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Australasia : Australia. Endemic and is sparsely spread in the inland and across northern, eastern, southern and central Australia. It is not found in Tasmania.


Occurs in open woodland and flat, open country, particularly tree-lined watercourses crossing plains


Nests solitarily in the old stick nest of another raptor or corvid placed in the top of a tree or on a pylon, 4-14 m off the ground. Clutch size is usually 3 or 4 eggs, the incubation period is 34 days, and the nestling period is 38-49 days. The period of dependence after fledging is at least two months, probably longer

Feeding habits

Feeds on mammals (including young rabbits and rats), birds (mostly small and medium-sized species, but occasionally herons and waterfowl), reptiles, insects, and carrion. Prey is captured on the wing (insects, birds), or on the ground from a perch. It sometimes hunts cooperatively, pirates prey from other raptors, and follows grassfires, farm equipment, shooters, and livestock to capture flushed prey, sometimes in the company of Brown Falcons.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be small, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern
Black Falcon status Least Concern


Poorly understood. Partly migratory and dispersive; apparently some regular movement N for winter and S for summer, with irruptive occurrences related to drought or good rains in arid and semi-arid zones, local abundance of quails or plagues of other prey species.

Distribution map

Black Falcon distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *