The Bat Falcon, a resident breeder in Trinidad, inhabits the forest and surrounding areas of the Asa Wright Nature Centre. Last year it could frequently be seen perched atop an Immortelle branch where it surveyed the territory for its meals. That branch, conveniently positioned to the eastern side of the verandah allowed, once or twice, fortunate guests and guides to witness feeding time at the perch. The food of choice for this species is, of course, bats. However, the Bat Falcon will also feed on small birds, mammals and insects.
Bat Falcons are small raptors (27 cm in length) belonging to the family Falconidae, which consists of Falcons and Caracaras. Representatives of the latter group can also be seen in Trinidad. This raptor’s range extends from southern Mexico to northern Argentina.
The Bat Falcon makes high-pitched call of ‘kiu,kiu,kiu.’ It is a rather charming raptor with an outstanding black and white striped upper breast and cinnamon lower breast. It has a black head and grey throat but yellow eye-rings and feet. In Trinidad, breeding has been recorded in February. A clutch of two eggs is normally laid in a nest that is built high off the ground.
The Bat Falcon is found in pairs and appears to be territorial. Take a walk at dawn or dusk to catch a glimpse of this falcon–as these are the times when it is most active–in direct, quick flight or soaring in circles.
Johanne L. Ryan
- ffrench, Richard. A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. Cornell University Press. 2012.