The Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis) is a small, colorful falcon that lives along tropical rivers and at the edge of rainforests. In the Tambopata region, this beautiful raptor is frequently seen by guests of the Rainforest Expeditions eco-lodges as they travel along the meandering, coffee-colored Tambopata River. It sometimes reveals its presence with a rapid series of notes similar to the sounds made by the American Kestrel. More often, it is noticed by guides and guests as it perches atop a tall snag at the river’s edge.
Bat Falcons prefer to spend their time at the edges of rivers to catch unwary birds and bats that happen to fly across the waterway. The unobstructed view and flying space favors the falcon and keeps many birds from flying across the river. For this reason, small birds adapted to the forest understory rarely fly across a waterway as wide as the Tambopata and therefore tend to become isolated from populations of the same species that reside in the forests on the opposite bank. Birds with rapid flight such as parakeets and swifts don’t hesitate in flying across rivers but they still do so with care and in flocks because they tend to be the birds that the Bat Falcon preys upon the most.
Some interesting facts about the Bat Falcon:
- Named after a prey item: The Bat Falcon gets its name from its ability to catch bats. Although it also preys on birds, it also regularly takes bats at dawn and dusk.
- A hood to shade its eyes: Like many species of falcons, the Bat Falcon has a pattern on its head that somewhat resembles a hood. This pattern is believed to help shade its eyes from the glare of the sun and is similar to the reason why baseball players use black markings under their eyes.
- Long wings for fast flight: The long, pointed wings of Bat Falcons are an adaptation for swift flight that helps them snatch fast flying birds and bats out of the air.
- How to separate it from the Orange-breasted Falcon: The Bat Falcon has a larger, rarer cousin that is occasionally seen in Tambopata. They look very similar but Orange-breasted falcons can be recognized by the orange color on the chest combined with course orange and black markings on the breast.
- Notched bill: As with several other falcon species, Bat Falcons have a distinct notch on their bill. This “tooth” is an adaptation for quickly cutting the neck vertebrae of their prey.How to see Bat Falcons on an Amazon rainforest adventure:
- Watch the treetops along the river: Guests of the Rainforest Expeditions eco-lodges have a fair chance of spotting one or more of these small birds of prey if they keep an eye on the tops of snags found at the river’s edge.
- Scan for them from the canopy towers: Bat Falcons are also sometimes seen from canopy towers at Posada Amazonas. Scanning dead snags and treetops with a telescope sometimes reveals a Bat Falcon or two.Take a family friendly Peruvian jungle tour with Rainforest Expeditions to see Bat Falcons and other beautiful wildlife in the Amazon rainforest.