Species profile

Grey Falcon

Grey Falcon

Photo courtesy of Dean Portelli.

Range and abundance

The Grey Falcon is endemic to Australia and occurs very sparsely in the interior and north of the Australian mainland. There has been a contraction in its breeding distribution in some areas such as NSW where its eastern breeding limit has shifted further inland.

Description

An adult bird is 33 - 43 cm in length, with the weight of males averaging around 400 g and females 550 g.  They have long pointed wings and a short tail, and soar with wings held close to level. Wings are black-tipped and are grey above, and white with fine grey barring below. Underparts are very pale grey to white and juveniles have fine dark streaks. Adults have an orange-yellow eye-ring and feet.

Ecology

The Grey Falcon is often solitary, but it may be seen in pairs or family groups. It prefers timbered lowland plains (especially those that are acacia-dominated) which are interspersed with tree-lined watercourses. The majority of its habitat has an average rainfall of less than 500 mm. It is often difficult to detect, perching amongst foliage or sitting still on dead branches. It hunts by flying at tree-top level, making sudden changes of direction in search of birds (mostly parrots and pigeons) and insects. It is also known to feed on small mammals and carrion. It nests in the abandoned nests of other birds (mainly raptors and crows), usually in tall trees and often adjacent to watercourses. It lays 1 - 4 eggs from June to November and mating pairs may raise up to three chicks.

Threats

Clearing and habitat degradation pose a considerable threat to this species. An increase in Galahs in agricultural areas favours the Peregrine Falcon which may be replacing the Grey Falcon in some parts. Eggs are illegally collected.

 


What is AWC doing?

AWC protects the habitat of the Grey Falcon by reducing numbers of feral herbivores which degrade vegetation. AWC implements fire management to reduce the extent of wildfire, which may damage nesting trees.

Did you know:

The thickness of the Grey Falcon’s eggshells was reduced by up to 15% by DDT when use of this pesticide was legal.