Falcons (Falconiformes)

falcons Falcons are perhaps the most astonishing raptors or birds of prey. They are magnificent fliers having long, pointed wings and are capable of swooping down on their unsuspecting prey at tremendous speed and disposing it with their sharp breaks and powerful talons. There are about 60 species of falcons in the world, characterized by a sharp 'tooth' on the upper mandible which helps with the division of prey. Falcons have been used to hunt birds and falconry is popular in some places even today. The shaheen falcon (Falco Peregrines) is our local version of the peregrine falcon (Falco Peregrines Japonensis), reputedly one of the fastest birds in the world. While swooping, the streamline body and pointed wings can reach an incredible speed of 280 kmph. The 'shaheen' is found in hilly country. Its fight is very swift- a few rapid beats followed by a high-speed glide.

The prey is seized in mid-air and taken to a favourite perch before being divested of its feathers and eaten. The red-headed merlin falcon (Falco Chicquera) also hunts flying birds. The male and female of this species may hunt in concert, one bird flushing the quarry out and the other attacking it. The prey is then taken to a perch and shared. This bird is bluish grey above, white below barred slightly, having a chestnut head and nape.

Falcons nest is inaccessible crags or use the deserted nests of other birds. The 'shaheen' used the same nesting sites every year and if these are left undisturbed, become traditional. The eggs are usually 3 or 4 in number in each nest.