Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

Red-necked Falcons, Red-headed Merlins or Turumtis

Birds of Prey ... Falcon Information ... The Sport of Falconry

Red-necked Falcon aka Red-headed Merlin or TurumtiThe Red-necked Falcon, Red-headed Merlin or Turumti (Falco chiquera) is a bird of prey in the falcon family.

This bird is a widespread resident in India and sub-Saharan Africa. It is found in semi-desert, savannah and other dry open country with some trees, but also riverine forest. This falcon reuses the old tree nests of corvids, or lays its 3-5 eggs in the debris in the crown of a palm tree.

It often perches hidden in the crown of a palm, and chases birds, bats and large insects with a fast dashing flight. It is most active at dawn and dusk, hunting below the tree canopy.

Red-necked Falcons are 30-36cm in length with a wingspan of 85cm. This is a medium-sized, long-winged species with a bright rufous crown and nape.

The adult of the African sub-species has a white face apart from black moustachial stripes. The upperparts are pale grey, with black primary wing feathers and tail tip. The underparts are white with dark barring on the underwings, lower breast, belly and undertail. There is a buff foreneck band. The legs and eyering are yellow.

Males and females look alike, but young birds are buff below with less extensive barring and duller upperpart plumage. West African males are known to weigh between 139 and 178 grams, while females are found between 190 and 305 grams.

The Indian form has rufous moustachial stripes, lacks the buff breast band, and is less extensively barred than the African subspecies.

The voice of this species is a shrill kek-kek-kek. They often hunt in pairs, sometimes utilizing a technique in which one of the pair flies low and flushes up small birds while the other follows higher up and seizes the prey as it rises from cover.

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