African Pygmy Falcon

(Polihierax semitorquatus)


African pygmy falcons, unlike many species of raptors, have different markings to distinguish males and females – females have a brown patch between their wings, while males have a solid grey back.

This tiny species of falcon is the smallest raptor in Africa – adults are less than 8 inches long. Although small, they are predators, and hunt large insects, small reptiles, and even small mammals. They often hunt by perching on dead trees and scanning the surrounding area for potential prey. When they spot a target, African pygmy falcons can frequently be seen bobbing their heads and tails before swooping down to catch their prey. They may also hunt insects in flight.


Eastern and southern Africa


Arid to semi-arid savannah.


Large insects, small reptiles and rodents


In the wild, African pygmy falcons often utilize the empty nests of weaver birds as nesting sites. They will also use tree cavities. They typically lay 3-4 eggs per clutch and their incubation is 28-30 days. Both parents help rear the chicks.


Not Under Threat (Least Concern)

At the Aviary

The African Pygmy Falcons are part of our off-exhibit Endangered Species Breeding Program.