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Red-footed Falcon

Falco vespertinus

Length: 12-14 inches Wingspan: 26-30 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Males dark grey overall, with reddish feet, eye-ring, and base of bill.  Females plumage significantly different.

Red-footed Falcon - Falco vespertinusThe Red-footed Falcon is a rather uncommon raptor of the Old World, wintering in southern Africa, and spending the northern hemisphere summer in eastern Europe through central Asia.  They are very long-distance migrants, and vagrants are often found in western Europe, but in August 2004, one Red-footed Falcon was found in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, marking the first time the species had been spotted in the Western Hemisphere. 

Habitat: On its wintering grounds in Africa, it prefers open grassy habitats with scattered trees and shrubs. During the northern hemisphere's summer, they are often found in semi-open habitats in and around water sources, including open woodlands, savannahs, and agricultural land with vegetation along fencerows.

Diet: Mostly feeds on large insects, but they will also take small birds, small rodents, and other small vertebrates such as lizards or snakes

Behavior: Does most of its foraging while in flight, capturing insects or small birds in mid-air.  Red-footed Falcons are capable of hovering while foraging.

Nesting: Often uses stick nests built by other birds, such as Rooks, Magpies, or Crows.  eThey typically breed in small colonies, but will also sometimes be found nesting alone.

Migration: Very long-distance migrant.  Most birds winter in southern Africa, their breeding grounds, while summering birds can be found from eastern Europe through central Asia.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Red-footed Falcon sightings

Similar Species: Amur Falcon, another Eurasian species.

Conservation Status: The IUCN currently lists the Red-footed Falcon as "Near Threatened".  Populations have declined sharply across much of their range in Europe, while Asian populations appear to be more stable.

Further Information: 1) Audubon Portland - Red-footed Falcon

2) N.Y. Times - The Red-footed Falcon Makes its Western Hemisphere Debut

3) BirdLife International - Red-footed Falcon

Photo Information: March 25th, 2011 - Kolosi, Cypress - Mick Sway - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attributions No-Derivs 2.0 Generic License.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Red-footed Falcon - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota.  Only one recorded instance of the species in North America (and the entire western Hemisphere), in August 2004, in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Additional Red-footed Falcon Photos (coming soon!!)