Description – Bat Falcon
Bat Falcons, the apex predators of falcon family hunts predominantly at dawn and dusk. Bat Falcons reside over the regions of Mexico, South and Central America. Their reign extends to the regions in Trinidad. They are termed Bat Falcons owing to their extensive feeding habit on bats. In the family of Bat hunters, the females are much larger compared to the males. The females range up to 12 inches in length where the males measure up to 9.5 inches. The fully mature adults have a black plumage coat over the head and tail with white along the neck and upper breast. The back portion appears in light to darker variations of grey. The feathers covering the belly and thighs have shades of orange with razor-sharp claws in black at the tip.
Brown eyes surrounded by a yellow ring, have a keen sense of vision that helps in targeting the prey. Bat Falcons are generally solitary predators with pointed wings. The wingspan measuring twice its body length allows exceptional hunting skills in nailing the prey. It sends out sharp calls that could be heard over a mile in distance. The sharp calls at times are relied on to distract and lure the prey. Being smaller and compact in size and shape, these birds of prey can dodge the obstacles and infiltrate denser ecosystems to make a kill. Perched up high on the cliffs or solitary branches in open woodlands and forests, it strikes the prey with greater velocity.
On snatching the prey in midair, these birds perch up the high branches, cliffs or ground. With the black notched bill, the prey is deskinned and feasted upon. Bat Falcons are considered close relatives of the Orange Breasted Falcon. Unlike Orange-breasted Falcon, Bat Falcons have no orange plumage over the breast region. The favorite hunting grounds of the Bat Falcons are riversides, where they patrol for bats, smaller birds and insects. The females of this family feed largely on bats and birds since they are larger compared to the males. The males majorly feed on insects such as dragonflies, beetles, etc.
Bat Falcons are seen in pairs only during the mating season. The nest is set up in cavities in trees 50 to 60 meters above the ground level. In a clutch, 2 to 4 eggs are found and the incubation period ranges to 7 weeks. During the nesting period, the male takes complete responsibility for hunting and feeding the family. It takes up to 45 days for the hatchlings to take the first flight. Till then both parents are busy patrolling the nest from predators.
Due to extensive deforestation and habitat loss, these raptors are facing extinction in certain nations. Bat Falcons are victims of human interventions. These wings of prey are hunted for sport, captured and trained for falconry. With a considerable decrease in Bat Falcons and related falcon species, there is a subsequent increase in its prey and thereby an imbalance in the ecosystem. With the increase in the prey, a wide variety of crops are being affected on a large scale.