Polihierax – Pygmy falcon

Members of this group live unitedly and stand their ground no matter where they are

The smallest raptor found on the African continent. This diminutive bird of prey is native to the arid and semi-arid regions of Eastern and Southern Africa, particularly in countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia.

Despite their small size, typically around 20 centimeters (8 inches) in length, Pygmy Falcons are formidable hunters. Their plumage is predominantly gray and white, with a strikingly patterned face featuring a white underbelly and a gray upper body. The male typically has a chestnut patch on the back, while the female’s back is usually gray.

As non-migratory birds, Pygmy Falcons maintain territories throughout the year. They strongly prefer dry bushland habitats, where they can be found perching conspicuously at the tops of thorny bushes or trees, scanning for prey. Their habitat choices are often associated with large communal nests of weaver birds, such as those created by the Sociable Weaver in Southern Africa, which the falcons often use for roosting and nesting.

These falcons are indeed sociable when it comes to their reproductive behavior. They do not build their own nests but instead use the abandoned chambers in the huge communal nests of weavers or sometimes co-inhabit with them. This unique behavior not only shelters them but also positions them close to a food source.

Hunting is usually done during the cooler hours of the morning and evening to avoid the midday heat. This adaptation allows them to conserve energy and remain efficient predators despite the challenging temperatures of their environment.

Pygmy Falcons are sedentary, spending most of their lives within a relatively small range. They exhibit a variety of vocalizations used for communication, especially between mates and to defend their territory.