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Photograph by Erik Toorman

Bat Falcon

Bat falcon adult males measure 24-29 cm (8-10 in.) in length with a wingspan of 56-58 cm (18-19 in.) Females also range from 24-29 cm (8-10 in.) in length but have a larger wingspan, which ranges between 65 and 67 cm (21-22 in.) in length. The head and upper parts of their body are black, with grayish edging to contour the feathers from their upper back to tail coverts. Their throat and upper chest is white and tan extending around their neck. The lower breast and adbomen are black narrowly barred with white and cinnamon. The undertail coverts and thighs are chestnut. They have a long black tail with many fine white or gray stripes and buff tip. The bat falcon has deep brown irises that may help camouflage while hunting at night. They also have small hooked beaks with yellow cere and orbit. 

The bat falcon appears to have a preference for consuming bats, although they do not make up the majority of its diet. Their diet consists mainly of small birds and large insects, which include dragonflies (Odonata), moths (Lepidoptera), large grasshoppers (Orthopera), Homoptera, and Hymenoptera. They perch high in the trees, on branches above the canopy and hunt by direct pursuit and stooping. Their flight is swift with powerful fast wing beats or quick wing beats followed by a glide. They are most active at dusk when the bats emerge.

Single birds but often pairs of this resident Trinidad species are seen mainly in the forested areas. Though they occur in unbroken forests, bat falcons seem to be able to adjust to human disturbance and are sometimes found to be more common in broken forest, which includes disturbed area, forest edge, road cuts, riverbanks, or cleared agricultural land with scattered trees.

Bat falcons primarily communicate through visual and vocal ways, often calling back and forth to their mate during breeding season with a high pitched "kiu-kiu-kiu-kiu". Courtship for the bat falcon begins in February or March, which is the middle of the dry season in Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. In Trinidad, nesting begins in February, and in Colombia, breeding begins in February or March. In Venezuela, the bat falcon lays its eggs in March and in Guyana, in April. In Brazil, it will lay its eggs in August, the middle of dry season. Both parent will take an active role in protecting the nest, which may include chasing off other raptors. The male provides nearly all of the food during the nestling period.

Family - Falcons

Other Names - White throated Falcon

Latin Name - Falco rufigularis

Range - Found in Mexico, Central and South America. It ranges from eastern Colombia east to the Guianas and Trinidad, and south to southern Brazil and northern Argentina


Pacheco, M. 2001. "Falco rufigularis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. at

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds of the World, David Alderton. 2004 Lorenz Books, London

F. Haverschmidt, 1962. Notes on the Feeding Habits and Food of Some Hawks of Surinam. The Condor Vol 64. 154 - 158.

Birds of Venezuela. Steven L. Hilty. 2003, Christopher Helm, London

A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. 2nd edition, Richard ffrench. 1992, Helm, London

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All photographs (unless otherwise stated) are the property of Brian Ramsey. No portion of the material on this site, including the photographs, may be reproduced without the express written consent of Outdoor Business Group Limited and Brian Ramsey. The permission of the other owners of the photographs must also be obtained for use.   

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Last modified: February 16, 2008