Bat Falcon

Querencia reader and frequent commentor Annie D has just been to Costa Rica, where she photographed many amazing birds, insects, and plants. One of my favorite sequences (other than some beetles I hope to get later for Pluvialis) was this group. The toucan

was one of a group trying to steal eggs from a Bat falcon, which was nesting in a hole in a tree trunk. Bat falcons are tiny– even smaller than Merlins– but true falcons, and one of the most beautiful at that. They have been tried in falconry, but all I know have been eaten by larger birds of prey when flown in the open–!!– they apparently are used to the cover of at least partial canopy forest, and need it, unlike most falcons. Will Beebe wrote of the nesting habits of a pair in one of his long- out- of print books from the Thirties that made me want to go places and see things– I was ruined by books! This sequence captures the gorgeous little predator facing off, calling out in alarm, and finally taking off to repel the bigger birds. Thanks, Annie!

3 thoughts on “Bat Falcon”

  1. Great shots! Tom and Jenn Coulson brought back a few photos of wild bat falcons from one of their several trips to Central America. But those were images of tiny black falcons WAY up on top of radio towers at dusk. What were they hunting up there? You guessed

    Mullenix trivia: The first trained falcon I ever held was an eyas bat falcon taken in Panama and bound for the Peregrine Fund. My veterinarian friend was keeping it in quarantine and let me feed her every afternoon. I was 14 years old and deeply, deeply in love. 🙂 No wonder I’m so screwed up.

    Steve knows, but Reid, if you held one of these you might be smitten, too. They have big, ink-black, glossy eyes; elegant, long yellow toes tipped with oversized weaponry; feathers so black they shine blue in the sunlight and patches of burnt orange and white that call to mind one of Steve’s best guns, finely inlaid with tropical hardwoods. Ah, but I digress……!

    I am a happily married man.

  2. Wow, I’m even prouder of my pictures now they are published! Matt, thank you for the closeup hands-on description. I envy you.

  3. A few years ago, I spent ten days in Cuba working for a charitable organization as a volunteer. The hotel we stayed in for a time was across the street from the Cuban military academy in Manzanillo (apparently Castro’s summer residence was also in town).

    The building was full of bats that would exit by the hundreds each night much to the horror of the woman working with our “team”.

    Each night, two small falcons would wait in huge rubber tree near the pool. They would sit and preen and generally relax until, of course, the bats appeared. I would point them out to my companions who were amused by my excitement.

    We traveled all over Cuba that trip but saw very little wildlife and surprisingly almost no bugs,flying or biting. May be all the bats but I’m sure it was something the government is using for crop control.

    Thanks for great pictures, just as I remembered.

    Russ London


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