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Pygmy Falcon | Polihierax semitorquatus

The Pygmy Falcon is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Falconidae bird family group which includes birds such as Falcons.

The description for the Pygmy Falcon (Latin name Polihierax semitorquatus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Polihierax semitorquatus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 186 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 544. You will find a picture of the Pygmy Falcon on page 433.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Pygmy Falcon between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Pygmy Falcon is known in Afrikaans as Dwergvalk.

The Pygmy Falcon has a height of 20 cms and weighs around 70 gms. The head is coloured white, grey while the bill is coloured grey. The Polihierax semitorquatus has a white coloured throat, orange legs and a grey coloured back. The eyes are brown.

The male Polihierax semitorquatus has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is white, grey

Eyes are brown

Bill is grey

Legs are orange

Throat is white

Back is grey

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

The Polihierax semitorquatus attacks its prey aerially and feeds on wing or takes the prey to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces and eaten

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The Pygmy Falcon strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Pygmy Falcon does not built its own nest but rather invades the nest of other birds. If the bird does not find an empty nest it will attack the host (original nest owner) and displace it

The bird is found in the arid and semi-arid regions of Southern Africa and it can withstand high day and night temperatures

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Pygmy Falcon is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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