Cryptic Forest Falcon (Micrastur mintoni)

Cryptic Forest Falcon

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Micrastur mintoni | [authority] Whittaker, 2002 | [UK] Cryptic Forest Falcon | [FR] Carnifex de Minton | [DE] – | [ES] – | [NL] Cryptische bosvalk


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Micrastur mintoni SA e Amazonia s to Bolivia


Members of the genus Micrastur are falcons varying in size from small to quite large. Their wings are short and very rounded. The tail is often long, rounded and arched, but in some forms comparatively shorter. The beak is short, deep and (unusually for a falcon) untoothed. They have long legs. The crown feathers are slightly pointed; those of ear region are narrow, stiff and upsurged, forming a slight ruff. They have large ear openings and hunt in part by sound. There are five species, all in the tropical forests of the Americas.

Physical charateristics

Distinct from the most similar species, M. gilvicollis, in plumage pattern (tail barring; barring on underparts) and extent of supraorbital bare skin. An adult male Micrastur mintoni, demonstrates four diagnostic distinctions from the cryptically similar M. gilvicollis: (1) the bolder dark barring on the underparts extending down to the midbelly; (2) posterior to the mid-belly, barring is generally absent or greatly reduced; (3) irregular wash of buff on any of the underparts is lacking; and (4) the bare bright orange eyebrow skin extends above the whole eye. Unlike the Lined Forest Falcon, adult Cryptic Forest Falcons only have a single white tail-band (in addition to a narrow white tail-tip).

Listen to the sound of Cryptic Forest Falcon

[audio: Forest Falcon.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Eduardo Patrial

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 33 cm size max.: 38 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


South America : East Amazonia South to Bolivia


Occurs principally in terra firme forest, including adjacent second-growth, and also in seasonally flooded forest in the Amazon basin.


No data

Feeding habits

Has been seen attending an army ant swarm, like other small Micrastur species. It will prove to be a generalist, eating a variety of reptiles and small invertebrates. one bird observed to drop from a perch to run on the ground, presumably in pursuit of prey.

Video Cryptic Forest Falcon


copyright: J. del Hoyo


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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, 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.
During the dawn chorus in lowland terra firme forest at Caxiuna, Para, Brazil one morning in 1997, Andrew Whittaker recorded the vocalizations of a forest-falcon that he could not immediately place into any known species. After playback of the recording, he coaxed a small forest-falcon into the open. It looked almost exactly like the common Lined Forest-Falcon (Micrastur gilvicollis), yet in addition to its distinctive vocalizations, there were also subtle plumage differences. After examining museum specimens and an exhaustive analysis of forest-falcon recordings, Whittaker described this distinctive form as a new species, the Cryptic Forest-Falcon. It is a testament to how poorly known forest-falcons are that such a large bird that is widespread in southeastern Amazonia – ranging south of the Amazon, east of the Rio Madeira and west and south to the southern edge of humid lowland forest – could have remained unrecognized for so long.
Cryptic Forest Falcon status Least Concern


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Cryptic Forest Falcon distribution range map

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