Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis)
Aplomado Falcon

Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis)

The Aplomado Falcon is a distinctive bird of prey; dull red underparts, a grey back, a long and banded tail, and a striking black and white facial pattern distinguish adults. The lower breast sports a broad, blackish band or cummerbund with small, whitish crossbars. The tail is banded with white and black (or grey) stripes. A distinctive white line is located below the black cap on its head. Feet are bright yellow and the sexes are similar, with males noticeably smaller than females. The Aplomado is 38-42 cm with a wingspan of 102-122 cm. This is intermediate in size between the American kestrel and peregrine falcon.



Hunting associations between Aplomado Falcons (Falco femoralis) and maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurui) were observed in six occasions in Emas National Park. central Brazil. Falcons were successful in 25% of their hunting attempts. This association benefits the birds that hunt flushing tinamous missed by the wolf’s attack. The predominant grassland habitat of the park enables the falcon to pursue prey in flight that were flushed by the wolf from tall dense grass.

Source: The Condor 99:201-202

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Predation on the Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) and consumption of the Campo Flicker (Colaptes campestris) by the Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis) in Brazil

Author(s): Marco Antonio M. Granzinolli and José Carlos Motta-Junior

The Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis) has a wide distribution ranging from south-east USA to Tierra del Fuego (Ferguson- Lees and Christie 2001). This small raptor (208 – 460 g) inhabits mostly non-forested habitats, such as savannah grassland, scrub steppe, cactus desert, marshland with scattered trees, and sometimes in and around small woods and plantations (Cade 1982, White et al. 1994, Sick 1997, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The diet of the Aplomado Falcon relies mostly in birds, insects, rodents, bats and lizards (Hector 1981, 1985, White et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Despite the Aplomado Falcon’s wide distribution, its biology is poorly known, mostly in Brazil. Thus, we describe consumption and predation events by this raptor on two relatively large birds.
Source: Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 14 (4) 453-454

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Wild-reared aplomado falcons survive and recruit at higher rates than hacked falcons in a common environment

Author(s): Jessi L. Brown, Michael W. Collopy et al

The northern aplomado falcon (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) has been the subject of a large-scale reintroduction effort conducted by The Peregrine Fund since 1993. Intensive monitoring during 2002-2004 revealed approximately 38 breeding pairs and numerous non-territorial individuals in two study areas centered on Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and Laguna Atascosa NWR. Continued releases (”hacking”) of captive- bred young after pair establishment and successful wild breeding provided an opportunity to compare survival and recruitment histories of wild-reared and hacked falcons hatched during 2001-2003. We used Program MARK to rank multi-state models of apparent survival and recruitment rates with Akaike’s Information Criterion scores, corrected for small samples. The top model candidate, with almost 3.5 times more support than the next best model, detected differences due to falcon origin (wild or captivity): although breeder survival was independent of origin, juvenile hacked falcons survived and recruited at lower rates than wild-reared falcons. Given the high density of territorial adult falcons in the study areas, the difference in apparent survival may reflect greater dispersal by hacked falcons, increased tolerance of wild falcons in territory margins due to prior socialization, or other factors effecting higher intrinsic fitness of wild falcons. However, natal dispersal did not differ between the two groups, strengthening the hypothesis of a difference in true survival. Disproportionately greater recruitment of wild falcons into the breeding population again suggests their higher intrinsic fitness. These findings show how close monitoring of population vital rates can efficiently guide adaptive management of recovering populations.

Source: BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION 131 (2006) 453 – 458

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Author(s): DEAN P. HECTOR

Describe here breeding season diets of Aplomado Falcons (F&co femoralis) at 18 sites in Veracruz, Campeche, and Chiapas, Mexico, based on 256 animals in prey remains and 234 prey that I detected while watching the falcons’ feeding behavior. Birds comprised 94% of individuals in prey remains, but only 35% of prey that I saw being taken. Although the remainder and majority of the prey that I saw being taken were insects, 97% of prey biomass in this sample was birds. Common prey were moths, beetles, doves, cuckoos, and grackles. Prey animals ranged in weight from less than 1 g to over 500 g. Avian prey that I saw being taken averaged 67 g. In at least one case, prey size may have influenced prey selection within species since the falcons preferentially took female Greattailed Grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus), which are smaller than males. The swiftness of Aplomado Falcons in flight, coupled with their agility on foot and tendency to hunt cooperatively, may account for their broad prey preferences. They do not, however, capture swifts and swallows. The high proportion of birds in the diet may explain the falcon’s heavy contamination with residues of DDT.

Source: The Condor 87:336-342

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Author(s): WILLIAM S. CLARK et al.
A juvenile male Aplomado Falcon (Falcofemoralis) was observed to steal crayfish (Cambarus diogenes) from Little Blue Herons (Egretta caerulea). Crayfish are not known to be a common prey item of the Aplomado Falcon. To our knowledge this is the first instance of piracy reported for this falcon. Falcons of the genus Falco are seldom reported to take prey from other birds; fewer than half of the 39 Falco species have been observed doing so.

Source: J. Field Ornithol., 60(3):380-381

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