Falconet bird

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From the family of Falconidae

This Falconet as the name implies belong to the family Falconidae which include the regular size Falcon, Kestrel, Hobby & Merlin. Being one of the smallest bird of prey. In fact, its size is comparable to a typical Sparrow. Unique about this bird would be the prominent position it chooses to perch. Tallest protruding stem, dead snags where it could get a good view of its surroundings. These trees are normally at forest edges if its is facing an open area, perhaps more important with a 360* view. For unknown reason close to areas with human activities like cultivation, settlements and slash and burn activities are going on. Such environment speaks much about the food the Falconet is seeking. Prey could be snatched from all levels including ground level and brought back to a comfortable perch where it will be slowly eaten.

As for diet, it is getting less controversial but more definite. Originally it assumed that Falconet feed mainly on arthropods:- termites, butterflies, moth, dragonflies, bees and beetles. Then larger prey would be grasshoppers, mantis and cicadas. Previously recorded as having attacked and chased other birds but with no record of avian prey. That assumption is out dated. I have witness a Falconet landing on a Tree Sparrow in public area and having it for lunch at low heights along a walking path in the Tun Ismail Park. Later I will include a picture of it having a meal of the migratory Green-backed Flycatcher in Bukit Melawati. Now it is confirmed that species on its menu includes Sunbirds, Tailorbirds, Munias and tree Sparrows. The juvenile which are less aggressive and with undeveloped powers would be contended with dragonflies, beetles and spiders.

Falconet are seen as a single bird most times but more often than not they are in pair with the partner on a separate perch nearby. They could some times gather is groups of 5-6 birds but only for a short time. Falconet live in roost holes and using them as shelters when it rains. These are usually old nests abandoned by the Barbets or woodpeckers. Such roosting spots should be with a couple hundreds meters from where they are seen perched.

Black-thighed Falconet  Microhierax melanoleucus

 Size & diagnostic markings:- The bird measured 15-17 cm long. It has a black upper part with white face combined with black ear patch. The under part is white with the thighs and vent in chestnut. Wings are pointed. Short  bill with a well-developed tooth. Small bird with very heavy feet and sharp, well curved talons. Immature are not very different.

Distribution :-  The bird is native to most countries in South-east Asia like Brunei, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
 Habitats & preferences:-This is a lowland forest edge bird and as most pictures show at the tip of an open branch in high places.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- This is a fairly common birds that could be easily seen in most forest edges. Difficulties lies in the fact the presence of the bird being overlooked as its is too small, motionless and very high up
Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-

Black-thighed Falconet  # 1

Black-thighed Falconet   # 2

Black-thighed Falconet  # 3

Black-thighed Falconet # 4

Black-thighed Falconet   # 5

Black-thighed Falconet # 6

Black-thighed Falconet   # 7

Black-thighed Falconet  # 8

Black-thighed Falconet    # 9

Black-thighed Falconet    # 10

Black-thighed Falconet  # 11

Black-thighed Falconet  # 12

Black-thighed Falconet  # 16

Black-thighed Falconet   # 17

Black-thighed Falconet  # 18

 My personal jottings on the Black-thighed Falconet:-

The fact that bird is always seen in places that is extremely high giving the impression that this is a bird of the canopy, is misleading. When it comes to grabbing or targeting a prey, the bird could get rather low. Some pictures show that the bird is on branch that is rather low and among the foliages.


Raptors are "preferred" birds by most people as the shape and size of the bird is majestic and one not easy to come in contact with. The Falconet being a tiny raptor is no exception. The down side is that this bird is usually perched very high which is about 150-200 feet away. Incidence of the bird coming down low and near is extremely rare. The lack of details due to such huge distances discourage many photographers from making effort to seek out the bird.

Likewise, the bird seldom calls. When it does the soft screeching from such distances is buried in background noises leaving the recording insensible obtained to be in low quality. I too, is still waiting for that opportunity to get the bird real close and calling at the same time..