Pied Falconet (Microhierax melanoleucos)

Pied Falconet

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Microhierax melanoleucos | [authority] Blyth, 1843 | [UK] Pied Falconet | [FR] Fauconnet noir et blanc | [DE] Elster-Falkchen | [ES] Falconete pio | [NL] Bonte Dwergvalk


Monotypic species


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

The upper and side surfaces of the Pied Falconet are mostly glossy black. Some individuals have a thin white line across the base of the cere, over the eyes and down to the breast giving the appearance of a white face with large black eye patches. There are also some white spots on the inner wing and narrow white bars on the inner part of the tail. Below it is white, with some black mottling on the breast. The eyes are bright brown, the cere and feet black to brownish black.

Listen to the sound of Pied Falconet

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/FALCONIFORMES/Falconidae/sounds/Pied Falconet.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Herman van Oosten

wingspan min.: 35 cm wingspan max.: 37 cm
size min.: 18 cm size max.: 20 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Oriental Region : Northeast India to South China and Central Vietnam. The Pied Falconet is found in the forests of the Assam region of India and South-eastern China, Laos and surrounding areas.


A bird of the deep deciduous and evergreen forest, the Pied Falconet prefers areas with some clearings at altitudes of between 3,000 and 5,000 feet. Old cultivation, tea gardens and stream banks are its favoured spots, where it can be seen perched in the tops of trees, making occasional forays hunting flying insects. It is often seen in pairs, or in groups of up to five, where the birds may well be in a family
A very bold and powerful falconet, it often takes, in a true falcon’s stoop, birds as large as thrushes – very much larger than itself.


The Pied Falconet breeds in abandoned holes in dead trees – often at a height of 100 feet or more – always inaccessible. The holes are used for more than one year, and are usually full of insect remains. Three or four white eggs are laid in early March. The young generally fledge in mid-May.

Feeding habits

The adult Pied Falconets feed mostly on insects, but also on small birds to the size of a thrush, and small ground mammals and reptiles. Insects and birds are taken in flight.
Prey is seized either from the ground or in flight.

Video Pied Falconet


copyright: Vicky Cheng


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.
Pied Falconet status Least Concern


Sedentary but has been wandering north (Hong Kong). Also suggested to make altitudinal movements due to temperature.

Distribution map

Pied Falconet distribution range map

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