Plumbeous Forest Falcon (Micrastur plumbeus)

Plumbeous Forest Falcon

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Micrastur plumbeus | [authority] Sclater, 1918 | [UK] Plumbeous Forest Falcon | [FR] Carnifex plombe | [DE] Sperber-Waldfalke | [ES] Halcon montes Plomizo | [NL] Grijze bosvalk


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Micrastur plumbeus SA sw Colombia, nw Ecuador


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

Slate grey upperparts with head, neck and center of back slighty paler. Throat and breast grey fading to light-grey/white with fine blackish barring on breast, flanks and belly. Tail is black with white tips and a single white bar in the middle. Cere and feet yellow and, like congeners a bare spot of yellowish skin above the beak next to the eyes. Iris varies from yellowish to reddish-brown. In the wild the tail pattern distinguishes it from congeners. Apart from its distribution and plumage characters, this species is very poorly known.

Listen to the sound of Plumbeous Forest Falcon

[audio: Forest Falcon.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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South America : Southwest Colombia, Northwest Ecuador. The species is restricted to the Pacific slope and lowlands in south-west Colombia (Choco, Valle de Cauca, Cauca and Narino) and north-west Ecuador (Esmeraldas and Pichincha). It was not recorded in Colombia in 1959-1992 but, since then, two sites in Valle de Cauca and four sites in Narino have been discovered, including four pairs studied in the c.20 km2 Rio nambi Community Nature Reserve. In Ecuador, there are single records from three locations in 1987-1998, but no other records since 1959.


It inhabits very wet, lowland, foothill and premontane forest to 1,500 m, and is dependent on undisturbed closed-canopy habitat.


Little known, but nests are probably placed in tree cavities, as with other species in the genus. Breeding apparently takes place from January to July with some court displays observed in december.

Feeding habits

Feeds on small, ground-dwelling animals, primarily small mammals, reptiles, and insects. Forages by using still or perch-hunting techniques in the dark forest understory and by running and hopping along the ground for short periods, occasionally alighting on low vegetation, e.g., the stilt roots of palm trees. One bird had a landcrab as stomach content.


This species is classified as Vulnerable because its population is suspected to be small and rapidly declining owing to habitat loss.
The Choco region has long been a source of timber, but logging has intensified since the mid-1970s. Infrastructural improvement, particularly the rapid expansion of the road network, in the region has led to logging, small-scale argiculture and gold mining in formerly pristine areas. There is intensive agricultural development, especially oil-palm and banana plantations, and cattle farming. New legislation and the transfer of land rights to local communities has been exploited by large businesses, for whom it has become cheap and easy to buy land. International investment in the region has been lacking in concern for the environment. The combination of these factors has resulted in a high and increasing rate of deforestation, particularly in Ecuador, Nario and along new roads.
Plumbeous Forest Falcon status Vulnerable


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Plumbeous Forest Falcon distribution range map

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