Microhierax – Typical falconets

A small package which packs a big punch

The genus Microhierax comprises the falconets, which are the tiniest raptors in the world of falconry. These diminutive birds of prey are a marvel of the avian world, with five species that call Southeast Asia their home. They inhabit regions from the foothills of the Himalayas to the islands of Borneo and the Philippines.

Falconets can be likened to sparrows in size but are true birds of prey in behavior and diet. Despite their small stature, they possess all the fierce hunting instincts of their larger falcon relatives. They have a dashing flight and can execute rapid maneuvers to catch their prey, including a variety of small insects, lizards, birds, and mammals. Their prey also includes flying insects, which they often catch in mid-air with impressive agility.

The tiny raptors of the Microhierax genus are characterized by their striking plumage, which is typically glossy black with contrasting white or rufous patches, and their disproportionately large talons relative to their body size. These physical attributes not only make them adept hunters but also allow them to take down prey that is large in comparison to their own size.

These birds are generally non-migratory, maintaining territories throughout the year where they can often be seen perched conspicuously on high vantage points like dead trees or telegraph poles. Their high-pitched, repeated calls usually announce their presence in a territory.

Falconets are monogamous and are known to pair for life. They typically nest in tree cavities, where they lay a small clutch of eggs. Both parents share responsibilities for incubation and feeding the chicks. The young falconets grow quickly, feeding on a protein-rich diet provided by both parents and are soon ready to fledge and learn the skills of hunting.