Sooty falcon

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Sooty falcon
Sooty Falcon, Allée des Baobabs near Morondava, Madagascar.jpg
Sooty Falcon, Allée Des Baobabs near Morondava, Madagascar
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Genus: Falco
Species: F. concolor
Binomial name
Falco concolor
Temminck, 1825
Falco concolor distr.png
Global range.
Orange dots: Breeding colonies
Blue: Wintering range

The sooty falcon (Falco concolor) is a medium-sized falcon breeding from northeastern Africa to the southern Persian Gulf region.


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.[2][3]


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.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

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.[4] 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.[4]

Sooty Falcons lay eggs during mid-summer, and unlike most other falcons, occasionally nest in colonies. Birds nesting on islands in the Sea of Oman have a mean clutch size of 2.83 and brood size of 2.11, with 12% of nests failing at the egg or nesting stage.[5]


It was formerly classified as Least concern by the IUCN, but has recently been shown to be rarer than formerly believed. Consequently, it was uplisted to Near threatened status in 2008.[1]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Falco concolor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ a b c Gibbon, G. (2012). Roberts VII Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa (iPhone version 2 ed.). 
  5. ^ McGrady, M. J.; Al-Fazari, W. A.; Al-Jahdhami, M. H.; Nicoll, M. A. C.; Oli, M. K. (2017). "Sooty Falcon Falco concolor reproduction and population dynamics on the islands in the Sea of Oman". Ibis. 159 (4): 828–840. doi:10.1111/ibi.12502. 

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