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Falconinae Polyborinae

The falcons and caracaras are around 60 species of diurnal birds of prey that make up the family Falconidae. The family is divided into two subfamilies, Polyborinae, which includes the caracaras and forest falcons, and Falconinae, the falcons, kestrels and falconets ( Microhierax
Microhierax
and Spiziapteryx). They differ from the eagles of Accipitridae, in that falcons kill with their beaks instead of their taloned feet. They have a "tooth" on the side of their beak for this purpose.

Contents

1 Description 2 Distribution and habitat 3 Behaviour

3.1 Diet and feeding 3.2 Breeding

4 Relations with humans 5 Taxonomy and systematics

5.1 Families 5.2 Subfamilies 5.3 Genera in taxonomic order 5.4 Fossil genera

6 Footnotes 7 References 8 External links

Description[edit] Falcons
Falcons
and caracaras are small to medium-sized birds of prey, ranging in size from the black-thighed falconet, which can weigh as little as 35 grams (1.2 oz), to the gyrfalcon, which can weigh as much as 1,735 grams (61.2 oz). They have strongly hooked bills, sharply curved talons and excellent eyesight. The plumage is usually composed of browns, whites, chestnut, black and grey, often with barring of patterning. There is little difference in the plumage of males and females, although a few species have some sexual dimorphism in boldness of plumage. Distribution and habitat[edit] The family has a cosmopolitan distribution across the world, absent only from the densest forest of central Africa, some remote oceanic islands, the high Arctic
Arctic
and Antarctica. Some species have exceptionally wide ranges, particularly the cosmopolitan peregrine falcon, which ranges from Greenland
Greenland
to Fiji
Fiji
and has the widest natural breeding distribution of any bird. Other species have more restricted distributions, particularly island endemics like the Mauritius kestrel. Most habitat types are occupied, from tundra to rainforest and deserts, although they are generally more birds of open country and even forest species tend to prefer broken forest and forest edges. Some species, mostly in the genus Falco, are fully migratory, with some species summering in Eurasia and wintering entirely in Africa, other species may be partly migratory. The Amur falcon
Amur falcon
has one of the longest migrations, moving from East Asia to southern Africa.[1] Behaviour[edit] Diet and feeding[edit]

The laughing falcon is a snake-eating specialist

Falcons
Falcons
and caracaras are carnivores, feeding on birds, small mammals including bats,[2] reptiles, insects and carrion. In popular imagination the falconids are fast flying predators, and while this is true of the genus Falco and some falconets, other species, particularly the caracaras, are more sedentary in their feeding. The forest falcons of the Neotropics
Neotropics
are generalist forest hunters. Several species, particularly the true falcons, will stash food supplies in caches.[3] They are solitary hunters and pairs guard territories, although they may form large flocks during migration. Some species are specialists, the laughing falcon specialises in snakes, others are more generalist. Breeding[edit]

The red-footed falcon is unusual in being a colonial breeding falcon

The falcons and caracaras are generally solitary breeders, although around 10% of species are colonial, for example the red-footed falcon.[4] They are monogamous, although some caracaras may also employ alloparenting strategies, where younger birds help adults (usually their parents) in raising the next brood of chicks. Nests are generally not built (except by the caracaras), but are co opted from other birds, for example pygmy falcons nest in the nests of weavers, or on the ledges on cliffs. Around 2–4 eggs are laid, and mostly incubated by the female. Incubation times vary from species to species and are correlated with body size, lasting 28 days in smaller species and up to 35 days in larger species. Chicks fledge after 28–49 days, again varying with size. Relations with humans[edit] Falcons
Falcons
and caracaras have a complicated relationship with humans. In ancient Egypt they were deified in the form of Horus, the sky and sun god who was the ancestor of the pharaohs. Caracaras also formed part of the legends of the Aztecs, and are today the national emblems of Mexico. Falcons
Falcons
were important in the (formerly often royal) sport of falconry. They have also been persecuted for their predation on game and farm animals, and that persecution has led to the extinction of at least one species, the Guadalupe caracara. Several insular species have declined dramatically, none more so than the Mauritius kestrel, which at one time numbered no more than four birds. Around five species of falcon are considered vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN, including the saker falcon. Taxonomy and systematics[edit] See also: List of Falconidae The family Falconidae
Falconidae
was introduced by the English zoologist William Elford Leach in a guide to the contents of the British Museum published in 1820.[5][6] Families[edit] Traditionally, the raptors were grouped into four families in the single order Falconiformes, but many thought this group to be paraphyletic and not to share a common ancestor to the exclusion of all other birds. First, multiple lines of evidence in the 1970s and 1980s suggested that the New World vultures Cathartidae
Cathartidae
were closer related to storks and herons (Ciconiiformes), though more recent work places them outside that group as well. Consequently, New World vultures are now often raised to the rank of an independent order Cathartiformes
Cathartiformes
not closely associated with either birds of prey or storks or herons.[7] In 2007, the American Ornithologists' Union's North American checklist moved Cathartidae
Cathartidae
back into the lead position in Falconiformes, but with an asterisk that indicates it is a taxon "that is probably misplaced in the current phylogenetic listing but for which data indicating proper placement are not yet available".[8] In Europe, it has become common to split the remaining raptors into two: the falcons and caracaras remain in the order Falconiformes (about 60 species in 4 groups), and the remaining 220-odd species (including the Accipitridae – eagles, hawks, Old World vultures, etc.) are put in the separate order Accipitriformes. An unplaced prehistoric family known only from fossils are the Horusornithidae. In agreement with the split of Falconiformes
Falconiformes
and Accipitriformes, comparative genome analysis published in 2008 suggested that falcons are more closely related to the parrots and passerines than to other birds including the Accipitridae, so that the traditional Falconiformes
Falconiformes
are paraphyletic even if the Cathartidae
Cathartidae
are excluded.[9] Indeed, a 2011 analysis of transposable element insertions shared between the genomes of falcons, passerines, and parrots, but not present in the genomes of other birds, confirmed that falcons are a sister group of the combined parrot/passerine group, together forming the clade Eufalconimorphae.[10] Subfamilies[edit] The clade Falconidae
Falconidae
is composed of three main branches: the falconets and true falcons, the caracaras, and the forest falcons. Differences exist between authorities in how these are grouped into subfamilies. Also, the placement of the laughing falcon (Herpetotheres) and the spot-winged falconet (Spiziapteryx) varies. One common approach uses two subfamilies Polyborinae
Polyborinae
and Falconinae. The first contains the caracaras, forest falcons, and laughing falcon. All species in this group are native to the Americas.[11] The composition of Falconidae
Falconidae
is disputed, and Polyborninae is not featured in the American Ornithologists' Union
American Ornithologists' Union
checklists for North and South American birds that are produced by its Classification Committees (NACC and SACC). The Check-list of North American Birds considers the laughing falcon a true falcon (Falconinae) and replaces Polyborinae
Polyborinae
with Caracarinae and Micrasturinae.[12] On the other hand, the Check-list of South American Birds classifies all caracaras as true falcons and puts the laughing falcon and forest falcons into the subfamily Herpetotherinae.[13] Based on genetic research from the late 1990s to 2015, Boyd[14] uses three subfamilies. He places the laughing falcon (Herpetotheres) with the forest falcons (Micrastur) into Herpetotherinae (similar to SACC). Caracarinae is separate (similar to NACC), but also contains the spot-winged falconet (Spiziapteryx). The other falcons are placed in Falconinae. Falconinae, in its traditional classification, contains the falcons, falconets, and pygmy falcons.[15] Depending on the authority, Falconinae may also include the caracaras and/or the laughing falcon.[13][16] Boyd further divides the Falconinae into two tribes: Polyhieracini containing the Microhierax
Microhierax
falconets, plus Falconini containing the Falco falcons. The pygmy falcon and the white-rumped (pygmy) falcon are split into separate genera (Polyhierax and Neohierax), with the former placed into Polyhieracini and the latter into Falconini.[14] Genera in taxonomic order[edit] Family: Falconidae

Subfamily Polyborinae

Genus Daptrius
Daptrius
– black caracara Genus Ibycter
Ibycter
– red-throated caracara (sometimes included in Daptrius) Genus Phalcoboenus
Phalcoboenus
(4 species) – Andean and southern South American caracaras Genus Caracara
Caracara
– crested caracaras (2 living species, 1 extinct) Genus Milvago
Milvago
– brown caracaras (2 species) Genus Micrastur – forest falcons (7 species)

Subfamily Falconinae

Genus Herpetotheres
Herpetotheres
– laughing falcon Genus Spiziapteryx
Spiziapteryx
– spot-winged falconet Genus Polihierax
Polihierax
– pygmy falcons (2 species, includes Neohierax) Genus Microhierax
Microhierax
– typical falconets (5 species) Genus Falco – true falcons, hobbies and kestrels (around 37 species)

Fossil genera[edit]

Antarctoboenus ( Early Eocene of Antarctica) Parvulivenator ( Early Eocene of England) Stintonornis (London Clay Early Eocene of England) Badiostes (Santa Cruz Early Miocene
Miocene
of Patagonia, Argentina) Falconidae
Falconidae
gen. et sp. indet. (Early Miocene
Miocene
of Chubut, Argentina) Falconidae
Falconidae
gen. et sp. indet. (Pinturas Early/Middle Miocene
Miocene
of Argentina) Pediohierax (Middle Miocene
Miocene
of Nebraska, USA) – formerly Falco ramenta Falconidae
Falconidae
gen. et sp. indet. (Cerro Bandera Late Miocene
Miocene
of Neuquén, Argentina)[17] "Sushkinia" pliocaena (Early Pliocene
Pliocene
of Pavlodar, Kazakhstan) – belongs in Falco?

Footnotes[edit]

^ Tordoff, Andrew (2002). "Raptor migration at Hoang Lien Nature Reserve, northern Vietnam" (PDF). Forktail. 18: 45–48. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2011-06-10.  ^ Mikula, P., Morelli, F., Lučan, R. K., Jones, D. N., & Tryjanowski, P. (2016). Bats as prey of diurnal birds: a global perspective. Mammal Review. ^ Collopy, M.W. (1977). "Food Caching by Female American Kestrels in Winter". Condor. 79 (1): 63–68. doi:10.2307/1367531. JSTOR 1367531.  ^ Ille, R.; Hoi, H.; Grinschgl, F.; Zink, F. (2002). "Paternity assurance in two species of colonially breeding falcon: the kestrel Falco tinnunculus and the red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus". Etologica. 10: 11–15.  ^ Leach, William Elford (1820). "Eleventh Room". Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum
British Museum
(17th ed.). London: British Museum. pp. 65–70. OCLC 6213801.  Although the name of the author is not specified in the document, Leach was the Keeper of Zoology at the time. ^ Bock, Walter J. (1994). History and Nomenclature of Avian Family-Group Names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Number 222. New York: American Museum of Natural History. p. 133.  ^ e.g. Ericson et al., Diversification of Neoaves: integration of molecular sequence data and fossils, Biol Lett. 2007 Jun 22;3(3):257-9. ^ American Ornithologists' Union
American Ornithologists' Union
(2009) Check-list of North American Birds, Tinamiformes to Falconiformes
Falconiformes
7th Edition. ^ Hackett et al. 2008. ^ Suh A, Paus M, Kiefmann M, et al. (2011). "Mesozoic retroposons reveal parrots as the closest living relatives of passerine birds". Nature Communications. 2 (8): 443–8. doi:10.1038/ncomms1448. PMC 3265382 . PMID 21863010.  ^ Myers, P. R.; C. S. Parr; T. Jones; G. S. Hammond; T. A. Dewey. "Subfamily Polyborinae
Polyborinae
(caracaras and forest falcons)". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan. Retrieved 2009-08-15.  ^ "Check-list of North American Birds". North American Classification Committee. American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2009-08-15.  ^ a b "A classification of the bird species of South America". South American Classification Committee. American Ornithologists' Union. Archived from the original on August 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-15.  ^ a b Boyd, John H. "Falconiformes". Taxonomy in Flux Checklist. Retrieved 11 March 2016.  ^ Myers, P. R.; C. S. Parr; T. Jones; G. S. Hammond; T. A. Dewey. "Subfamily Falconinae (falcons)". Animal
Animal
Diversity Web. University of Michigan. Retrieved 2009-08-17.  ^ "Check-list of North American Birds". North American Classification Committee. American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2009-08-17.  ^ PVPH 465: a phalanx 1 of the middle toe. A caracara? Possibly belongs in extant genus (Kramarz et al. 2005).

References[edit]

Kramarz, Alejandro: Garrido, Alberto; Forasiepi, Analía; Bond, Mariano & Tambussi, Claudia (2005): Estratigrafía y vertebrados (Aves y Mammalia) de la Formación Cerro Bandera, Mioceno Temprano de la Provincia del Neuquén, Argentina. Revista geológica de Chile 32(2): 273–291. HTML fulltext

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Falconidae.

Falconidae
Falconidae
videos, photos and sounds on the Internet Bird
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Collection Falconidae
Falconidae
sounds in the xeno canto collection

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Fossil birds

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Neornithes

Palaeognathae

Struthioniformes (ostriches) Rheiformes (rheas) Tinamiformes (tinamous) Apterygiformes (kiwis) Casuariiformes
Casuariiformes
(emus and cassowaries)

Neognathae

Galloanserae (fowls)

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Anatidae (ducks)

Anatinae Anserinae

swans true geese

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Anhimidae

Anhima Chauna

Anseranatidae

Anatalavis Anseranas

Galliformes (landfowls- gamebirds)

Cracidae

Cracinae Oreophasinae Penelopinae

Megapodidae

Aepypodius Alectura Eulipoa Leipoa Macrocephalon Megapodius Talegalla

Numididae

Acryllium Agelastes Guttera Numida

Odontophoridae

Callipepla Colinus Cyrtonyx Dactylortyx Dendrortyx Odontophorus Oreortyx Philortyx Rhynchortyx

Phasianidae

Meleagridinae Perdicinae Phasianinae
Phasianinae
(pheasants and relatives) Tetraoninae

Neoaves

Columbea

Columbimorphae

Columbiformes
Columbiformes
(doves and pigeons) Mesitornithiformes (mesites) Pteroclidiformes (sandgrouses)

Mirandornithes

Phoenicopteriformes (flamingos) Podicipediformes (grebes)

Passerea

Otidimorphae

Cuculiformes (cuckoos) Musophagiformes (turacos) Otidiformes (bustards)

Strisores

Caprimulgiformes
Caprimulgiformes
(nightjars and relatives) Steatornithiformes Podargiformes Apodiformes
Apodiformes
(swifts and hummingbirds)

Opisthocomiformes

Opisthocomiformes
Opisthocomiformes
(hoatzin)

Cursorimorphae

Charadriiformes
Charadriiformes
(gulls and relatives) Gruiformes
Gruiformes
(cranes and relatives)

Phaethontimorphae

Phaethontiformes (tropicbirds) Eurypygiformes
Eurypygiformes
(kagu and sunbittern)

Aequornithes

Gaviiformes (loons or divers) Sphenisciformes (penguins) Procellariiformes
Procellariiformes
(albatrosses and petrels) Ciconiiformes
Ciconiiformes
(storks) Suliformes
Suliformes
(cormorants and relatives) Pelecaniformes
Pelecaniformes
(pelicans and relatives)

Australaves

Cariamiformes
Cariamiformes
(seriemas and relatives) Falconiformes
Falconiformes
(falcons and relatives) Psittaciformes (parrots) Passeriformes (perching birds)

Afroaves

Cathartiformes
Cathartiformes
(New World vultures and condors) Accipitriformes
Accipitriformes
(eagles and hawks) Strigiformes (owls) Coliiformes (mousebirds) Trogoniformes (trogons and quetzals) Leptosomatiformes (cuckoo roller) Bucerotiformes
Bucerotiformes
(hornbills and hoopoes) Coraciiformes
Coraciiformes
(kingfishers and rollers) Piciformes
Piciformes
(woodpeckers and relatives)

Category Portal Outline

Taxon identifiers

Wd: Q21744 ADW: Falconidae EoL: 8007 EPPO: 1FALCF Fauna Europaea: 10753 Fossilworks: 39317 GBIF: 5240 ITIS: 175593 NCBI:

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