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Discovering the Fascinating Behavior and Journey of the Amur Falcon

Amur Falcon: The Migratory Raptors of India

The Amur Falcon is one of the smallest raptors found in the world but has an enormous personality. The bird is just about the size of a pigeon and is hugely popular in eastern countries for its unique migratory behavior.

The bird’s scientific name is Falco amurensis, and it belongs to the Falconidae family. This article aims to educate readers about identifying the Amur Falcon and understanding its plumages and molts.


The Amur Falcon is distinctly identifiable due to its small size, slender body structure, and long, pointed wings. Female birds are slightly bigger than the males, with more prominent, curly feathers on their necks, which are reddish-brown in color.

Younger birds come with a browner head, white underparts, and more prominent brown stripes on its scattered feathers. The mating season changes their appearance as both males and females turn entirely into slate-grey birds with long, narrow wings and a black bill.

The species’ most striking feature is their large eyes with dark pupils, complemented by a yellow ring surrounding them. They are also known for their strong and fast flight, making them highly efficient hunters.



The Amur Falcon originates from Siberia and migrates to eastern Africa each year, reaching up to 22,000 km in the process. During their migration, these birds are seen flying in groups of over 100, making it easier to identify them.

Their timing of arrival in India is usually the month of October, whereas they return back to their breeding grounds by March.

Similar Species

Cross-matching Amur Falcons with other raptors is necessary because many look quite identical to them. One of the closest lookalike of the species is the Common Kestrel.

However, the latter has wider wings with black dashes below them, unlike the grey ones of an Amur Falcon. Similarly, the Peregrine Falcon can also be confused with the Amur Falcon because of their similar body size, and dark-colored wings.

However, the Peregrine Falcon has a more massive body and rounded wings that help differentiate it from the Amur Falcon.


The species altogether has two major types of plumages in their lives- the adult plumage and the juvenile plumage.

Adult Plumage: The plumage of an adult Amur Falcon varies according to the breeding season.

In the wing spot, adult males have a blue-grey hue, and the rest of the body has a greyish-slate color. Females are quite different from males as they come with a light brown head and back, with dark stripes visible on its underparts.

During migration, the adult birds turn pale grey-blue, making it easier to identify them quickly. Juvenile Plumage: Juvenile Amur Falcons have a less defined appearance, with a brown head and back, rufus underparts, and grey stripes visible on their wings.

This plumage is retained until the bird reaches sexual maturity.


Molting significantly affects the plumage of the Amur Falcon. The molting process involves a series of phases wherein the bird sheds its feathers and replaces them with newer ones.

The primary molt takes place in the winter, with a total shed of the main wings and tail feathers. The second molt happens in the bird’s first year, with an additional shedding of body feathers.


The Amur Falcon is a migratory bird known for its efficient hunting and distinctive appearance. Even though it is small in size, it’s migratory behavior and unique plumages are enough to make them distinguishable from its many similar raptor species.

The distinct identification, understanding of plumages, and molts in this bird is crucial for conservation efforts as these tiny raptors are a fundamental social, cultural, and ecological role in their native habitat.

Systematics History of the Amur Falcon

The Amur Falcon, also known as Falco amurensis, is a migratory raptor species that inhabits parts of Asia and Africa. With its unique physical features and hunting skills, this bird has always been an intriguing subject for ornithologists to study.

This article will delve into the systematics history of the Amur Falcon, its geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and historical changes in its distribution.

Systematics History

The classification of the Amur Falcon in the Falconidae family has undergone multiple revisions over the years. Originally, the Amur Falcon was categorized under the genus Hierofalco in 1849 by Pallais.

It was later moved to the Tinnunculus genus in 1854 by Bonaparte. However, in 1900, Seebohm established the genus Falco and reclassified the species under this genus.

The reclassification was made because of the morphology and molecular analysis of the species.

Geographic Variation

The different regions inhabited by the Amur Falcon mark some variation in their phenotype, behavior, and habitat use. The species’ different migratory routes and breeding grounds significantly contribute to varied traits among different population groups.

Consequently, ornithologists group the species into subspecies based on their differences in various characteristics.


The Amur Falcon has four different subspecies, which are:

1. Falco amurensis amurensis – This subspecies breeds in Siberia and eastern Russia before migrating south to winter in southern Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia.

This subspecies is the largest among the subspecies. The bird’s upper parts are slate-grey, the underparts are off-white, and the wings and tail are black.

2. Falco amurensis jejuensis – This subspecies breeds on Jeju Island in South Korea and Japan before migrating south through the Ryukyu Islands to winter in Southeast Asia.

The birds are generally smaller than the amurensis, and the underparts are more rufous. 3.

Falco amurensis elisabethae – This subspecies breeds in northeast India, western and central China before migrating south to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. The birds have a more orange-brown back and wings and less black coloration on the head and nape.

4. Falco amurensis pallidus – This subspecies breeds in southern Africa before migrating northwards to moult areas in northern Zambia, Tanzania, and Kenya.

The upperparts are more sandy-brown rather than grey and have much less black spotting than the other subspecies.

Related Species

The Amur Falcon is closely related to other species of falcons like the Eleonoras Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, and Red-footed Falcon. The Eleonoras Falcon migrates in Europe, breeding in the Mediterranean region and wintering in Madagascar.

The breeding season of Eleonoras Falcon is known to be two weeks later than that of Amur Falcon. The Red-footed Falcon breeds in Europe and Asia before migrating to Africa, particularly in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Congo to spend the winter season.

Lesser Kestrel breeds across the Mediterranean and winter mainly in Africa.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The changes in the Amur Falcon population distribution are a result of a combination of different factors. One of the significant factors influencing its distribution is climate change.

Due to climate change, the birds are seen extending their breeding range northwards. Similarly, in India, the bird’s distribution was previously confined to a few pockets in the northeast but is now recorded breeding in several states of India.

The bird’s habitat was used for hunting of this species, particularly in the north-eastern states of India, but with conservation efforts, the hunting has now been banned. The protection and conservation of the birds have resulted in the successful nesting and flourishing of the species in India.


The systematics history of the Amur Falcon, its geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and the historical changes to its distribution highlights the importance of the different factors that contribute to the distribution of bird species on earth. The preservation of the species’ natural habitat becomes a significant component in ensuring the continuity of the bird’s migratory behavior and breeding patterns.

The classification of the subspecies and meaningful understanding of the differences between them provide us with insight into the diversity that nature provides us. Understanding the systematics history of bird species for scientific study as well as for conservation efforts helps protect these magnificent birds for generations to come.

Habitat and

Movements of the Amur Falcon

The Amur Falcon, also known as Falco amurensis, is a migratory bird species that travels long distances each year to breed, molt, and find suitable feeding areas. With its striking appearance and exceptional flying skills, this small raptor has caught the interest of many wildlife enthusiasts.

In this article, we will discuss the habitat of the Amur Falcon and its impressive movements and migration practices.


The Amur Falcon prefers open grasslands, savannas, and woodland habitats during its breeding season. The birds nest on trees, usually in tall and leafy crowns with a clear view of surrounding areas.

During the autumn migration, Amur Falcons are known to use urban habitats like gardens, parks, and even streetlights for rest and roosting. They also migrate through agricultural areas, particularly during their southward movement when they feed on insects in and around farmlands.

The primary winter habitat of the Amur Falcon is located in southern Africa. The birds frequent bushes, woodland, and savannah habitats, where they feed mainly on insects, especially dragonflies, termites, and grasshoppers.

They often perch in trees and shrubs from where they launch themselves to catch their prey.


The Amur Falcon undergoes a cycle of breeding, molting, migration, and wintering each year. In Siberia, where the birds breed, male Amur Falcons arrive first to claim a suitable nesting site.

After the females arrive, the birds pair up and begin building their nest. The breeding season begins in May, and the pair produces two to three eggs in each clutch.

After breeding, the species moves on to its molting season, which takes place in the first year of each bird’s life. The next significant movement of the Amur Falcon is its migration.

The migratory pattern of the species depends on its breeding location. The birds breed in eastern Asia, eastern Russia, and parts of northeastern India.

The migratory birds leave their breeding grounds in late August or early September and fly over the Himalayas to their wintering grounds in southern Africa. They then undertake the return journey to their breeding range during March and April along the same routes they traveled south in autumn.


The Amur Falcon is known for its impressive migration, which is one of the longest undertaken by any bird species. Each year, the Amur Falcon’s wintering grounds are located in different areas of southern Africa from east Angola to South Africa.

During the spring migration, the birds take a different path, returning to their breeding grounds via newly discovered routes and resting places that they developed along the way. Amur Falcons cover a distance of over 22,000 km during their annual migration, making it one of the longest undertaken by any bird species worldwide.

The birds use wind uplifts, weather patterns, and other resources to optimize their journey’s efficiency. They travel during daylight hours and rest at night, usually in small groups on trees, shrubs, or even utility poles.

Their journey is determined mostly by their food source and the safety of suitable resting or roosting locations. The knowledge of Amur Falcons’ impressive migration routes and resting locations has led to conservation groups taking measures to protect these valuable habitat zones.

Tracking technology has also enabled researchers to observe the birds’ migration patterns and locate areas prone to habitat destruction. As a result, conservation efforts are now more focused on combating the various threats faced by the species, including hunting and trapping, bush fires, deforestation, and other human-driven factors contributing to the destruction of its habitat.


The Amur Falcon is an incredible bird species that continuously undertakes long and perilous journeys year after year. Understanding the Amur Falcon’s habitat and migratory behavior is crucial to conserving these incredible creatures as it helps in identifying areas that need protection and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources to prevent habitat destruction.

Future conservation efforts should focus on increasing awareness among communities that share the bird’s habitat, implementing policies that ban hunting and trapping, safeguarding key resting areas and roosting sites, and encouraging habitat restoration initiatives. Together, we can protect this fascinating species for future generations to enjoy.

Diet and Foraging

Behavior of the Amur Falcon

The Amur Falcon, a small raptor species, relies on its excellent hunting skills to survive in the wild. It hunts prey on the ground and in the air, and feeds mainly on insects.

Understanding the bird’s diet and foraging behavior is crucial for conservation efforts and provides insights into the fundamental role the Amur Falcon plays within its habitat. This article will discuss the feeding behavior, diet, and metabolism of the Amur Falcon.


The Amur Falcon has an omnivorous diet, consuming a wide range of prey that includes insects, particularly termites, grasshoppers, and dragonflies. During the breeding season, the birds often prey on large beetles and can capture small rodents and birds when prey availability is low.

The bird uses its hunting techniques to catch prey in flight or by picking it up from the ground. Amur Falcons are active hunters and prefer to hunt alone, though they occasionally hunt in groups during migrations.


The diet of the Amur Falcon varies based on its geographic location and the season. During their breeding season, the birds feed mainly on insects like dragonflies, grasshoppers, and termites, which are abundant in their nesting habitats.

During the migration period, there is a shift in the diet of the birds, and they depend more significantly on locusts, butterflies, and other insects that are present along their migratory path. Their wintering grounds in southern Africa offer an abundance of prey, and the birds feed on insects and rodents that are most abundant in the region during the winter months.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Amur Falcon’s metabolism is adapted to support their hunting and migratory behavior, which requires large amounts of energy. The birds have a high metabolic rate, which helps them maintain their body temperature at the most optimal levels.

Amur Falcons can regulate their core body temperature in cold conditions by increasing their metabolic rate, which produces more heat and helps them stay warm. Conversely, when temperatures are high, the birds reduce their metabolic rate to conserve energy.

Sounds and Vocal

Behavior of the Amur Falcon


The vocalizations of the Amur Falcon are quite tricky to detect because they are relatively quiet compared to other raptor species. The birds produce no calls during their migratory flight, but while at rest, they produce various sounds.

Most of their vocalizations are short and consist of “klee-klee” or “prii-prii” sounds, which are emitted during the breeding season to attract mates or signal territorial boundaries. The birds can also produce a sharp chatter that is usually heard when they are feeding or protecting their nest from intruders.

The vocalizations of the Amur Falcon contribute to its communication, which plays a crucial role in mate selection, territorial defense, and parent-offspring interactions. The sounds are not just limited to vocalization, but the bird also communicates through visual displays of wing flapping, tail-quivering, and other body postures.


The diet, foraging behavior, and vocalizations of the Amur Falcon provide significant insight into the bird’s behavior and ecology. The birds have a diverse diet, relying heavily on insects, which influences their habitat selection and foraging behavior.

Understanding their vocalizations helps to comprehend the species’ communication and socialization, enabling conservation organizations to identify the various threats to their habitat. As several conservation organizations work towards preserving the Amur Falcon’s habitat and wellbeing, it is crucial to study their behaviors, dietary requirements, and vocalizations to better understand their requirements and contribute towards their conservation.

Behavior, Breeding, and Population Demography of the Amur Falcon

The Amur Falcon, a small migratory raptor species, is known for its unique physical features and impressive flying abilities. This bird has an intriguing behavior which is essential for its survival.

Understanding the bird’s behavior, breeding habits, and population demography is crucial for conservation efforts and protecting the species from extinction. In this article, we will discuss the Amur Falcon’s behavior, breeding, and population demography.


Locomotion: Amur Falcons have strong, pointed wings that enable fast and stable flight during migration. It allows the species to maximize the use of favorable winds and save energy while traversing long distances.

The birds move around by walking or hopping on the ground, but they tend to fly more often to cover large distances in search of food or breeding territories. Self-Maintenance: The Amur Falcon is known to take care of their feathers by preening, which they do to remove dust, dirt, and parasites.

They do use their beaks to pick off hard-to-access spots and distribute their natural oils from the uropygial gland located at the base of their tail plumage. Agonistic

Behavior: Amur Falcons exhibit some form of agonistic behavior, which involves threats, attacks and the establishment of a social hierarchy within the species.

Males display aggressive behavior during mating season to secure a breeding territory and attract females. During migration, the birds also exhibit aggressive behavior when competing for feeding opportunities.


Behavior: The Amur Falcon uses its vocalization to achieve a successful mating. It emits different call notes and displays an aerial court

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