Orange dots: Breeding colonies
Blue: Wintering range
The sooty falcon belongs to the hobby group, a rather close-knit number of similar falcons often considered a subgenus Hypotriorchis. Eleonora's falcon is sometimes considered its closest relative, but while they certainly belong to the same lineage, they do not seem to be close sister species.
This is an elegant bird of prey, 32–37 cm long with a 78–90 cm wingspan. It is shaped like a large hobby or a small Eleonora's falcon, with its long pointed wings, long tail and slim body. The adults are blue-grey, and lack the black underwing coverts of the Eleonora's falcon. The young bird is like a large juvenile hobby, or small juvenile Eleanora's falcon. Its dark trailing edge to the wings and tail distinguish it from the former species, and it lacks the underwing contrast caused by the dark coverts of the larger falcon.
Distribution and habitat
This species breeds on islands and coastal or desert cliffs from Libya to Pakistan). It is a long-distance migrant, wintering in east Africa and south to Madagascar and north-eastern South Africa. Increasingly regular sightings and a lack of historical records suggests that the wintering range has expanded south in recent decades. It is a rare vagrant north of its breeding range.
The sooty falcon eats mainly birds, but it will take large insects, such as dragonflies, which are transferred from talons to beak and eaten in flight. It nests on a ledge or on rocks, laying up to four eggs.
- BirdLife International (2013). "Falco concolor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Helbig, A.J.; Seibold, I.; Bednarek, W.; Brüning, H.; Gaucher, P.; Ristow, D.; Scharlau, W.; Schmidl, D.; Wink, Michael (1994). "Phylogenetic relationships among falcon species (genus Falco) according to DNA sequence variation of the cytochrome b gene". In Meyburg, B.-U.; Chancellor, R.D. Raptor conservation today (PDF). pp. 593–599.
- Wink, Michael; Seibold, I.; Lotfikhah, F.; Bednarek, W. (1998). "Molecular systematics of holarctic raptors (Order Falconiformes)". In Chancellor, R.D.; Meyburg, B.-U.; Ferrero, J.J. Holarctic Birds of Prey (PDF). Adenex & WWGBP. pp. 29–48.
- Gibbon, G. (2012). Roberts VII Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa (iPhone version 2 ed.).
- Sooty falcon - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds.