Red-footed falcon

The graceful red-footed falcon flies with occasional quick wing beats and longer periods of gliding while it continually adjusts its long wings and tail. It captures much of its food in flight, particularly crickets, locusts and grasshoppers (2), and the falcon’s flight can become erratic and jerky when in pursuit of a meal. It will often hover, kestrel-like, for short periods (4), as it searches for prey on the ground (2), and will also run along the ground after prey such as voles, mice, shrews, lizards and toads (2) (4). The red-footed falcon hunts most actively around dawn and dusk, when it can be seen flying low, particularly over rivers (2).

The red-footed falcon is a social bird and is rarely encountered singly (4). They roost in large colonies, sometimes consisting of thousands of birds (2), and the entire population migrates together between south-west Africa and their Eurasian breeding grounds. After spending November to February on their wintering grounds, the red-footed falcons travel vast distances and arrive at the breeding grounds from mid-April to mid-May (2). Here they nest in colonies of tens or thousands of pairs, occupying old nests of raptors and corvids (for example, rooks), cliff or tree holes, or nest on the ground protected by a shrub (2). Three to four eggs are normally laid, at intervals of two days, which are then incubated by both parents for 27 to 28 days. The chicks fledge 27 to 30 days after hatching and gain complete independence around one week later (2). September sees the falcons begin their great journey once again and large numbers can be seen over the coastal plains of Israel in early October (2) (4).

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