Black-thighed Falconet (Microhierax fringillarius)

Black-thighed Falconet

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Microhierax fringillarius | [authority] Drapiez, 1824 | [UK] Black-thighed Falconet | [FR] Fauconnet moineau | [DE] Finkenfalkchen | [ES] Halconcito Indonesio | [NL] Musvalk


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Microhierax fringillarius OR Malay Peninsula, Greater Sundas


Members of the genus Microhierax are the smallest of falcons. Their wings are pointed, the tail rounded and of medium length. The bill tends to be heavy with a well-developed tooth. Considering the size of the birds, they have very heavy feet and sharp, well curved talons. They are mostly boldly patterned and are often glossy black on the back. Immatures are not very different.
The genus is closely related to the other falconets Polihierax and Spiziapteryx. There are five species distributed from India to the Philippines.

Physical charateristics

It has black upperparts, whitish-rufous underparts, broad black ear coverts and black flanks and thighs. Usually more rufous in underparts than congeners.

Listen to the sound of Black-thighed Falconet

[audio: Falconet.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Macaulay, Linda R

wingspan min.: 30 cm wingspan max.: 34 cm
size min.: 14 cm size max.: 17 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Oriental Region : Malay Peninsula, Greater Sundas. Southern Myanmar (Tenasserim) and southwestern Thailand south through the Malay Peninsula, Borneo (south of about 5N), Bali, Java, and Sumatra.


In the Malay Peninsula, it occurs in die-backs, clearings, and the edge of inland forest and secondary woodlands of all kinds, well out into partly wooded agricultural areas, parkland, and large, wooded gardens (Wells 1999). As with other falconets, it needs areas with tall dead snags for hunting perches and old woodpecker or barbet holes for roosting and nesting, from plains level to at least 1,700 m. Roost holes are used by resident pairs year round, including as rain shelters.


Nests are are in old nest holes, 6-20 meter up, of woodpeckers and larger barbets, including Gold-whiskered Barbets, or in cavities in rocky cliffs or limestone walls. Clutch size is 4 eggs, but only 2, rarely 3, young usually fledge. Courtship incudes allpreening.

Feeding habits

Feeds mostly on arthropods, including alate termites, butterflies, and moths, dragonflies, carpenter bees, beetles, large orthopterans (grasshoppers, mantids), cicadas, and less often on birds. Hunts socially, in pairs or family parties of up to five birds, less often alone, and makes sallies from 100-200 m out from a favored exposed perch, usually 5 m or more high with a 360 view. Prey is snatched with the feet in free space at all levels, or in swerving dashes through a tree crown, occasionally from surfaces, including the ground. After a successful capture, prey is brought back to a perch to be eaten.

Video Black-thighed Falconet


copyright: Nick Talbot


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 moderately small to large, 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-thighed Falconet status Least Concern



Distribution map

Black-thighed Falconet distribution range map

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