Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis)


French: Faucon des chauves-souris German: Fledermausfalke Spanish: Halcón murcielaguero

Falco rufigularis


, 1800,



In the past, species alternatively labelled F. albigularis. May belong in the F. subbuteo complex (see below). Similarity to F. deiroleucus probably indicates a recent common ancestor, rather than convergence; vocal behaviour unusual among falcons, shared only with latter species. Cladistic analysis of syringeal morphology suggested close relationship with F. femoralis (but deiroleucus not included in taxa sampled)#R. Validity of races petoensis and ophryophanes often challenged, on grounds that they represent clinal variation in plumage darkness#R; on other hand, populations in far N of range (palest of all) sometimes awarded separate race, petrophilus (here subsumed within petoensis); some authors have preferred to recognize two races, petrophilus and nominate#R. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. r. petoensis C. Chubb, 1918 – N Mexico (from Sonora E to Tamaulipas) S through Central America to Colombia and, W of Andes, to Ecuador and extreme NW Peru#R.
  • F. r. rufigularis Daudin, 1800 – E Colombia E to the Guianas and Trinidad, and S to E Ecuador, E Peru, N & E Bolivia, S Brazil and N Argentina (to Tucumán).
  • F. r. ophryophanes (Salvadori, 1895) – tableland of C Brazil (Piauí S to Mato Grosso, São Paulo and Paraná) and adjacent Bolivia, Paraguay and NE Argentina.
  • Descriptive notes

    23–30 cm; male 108–150 g, wingspan 51–58 cm; female 177–242 g, wingspan 65–67 cm. Small, compact version of F. deiroleucus (though... read more


    Lone birds are generally quiet, but pairs together are highly vocal. Gives rapid shrill screaming... read more


    Tropical forests, generally from lowlands up to montane forest at 1700 m, with a single record from... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly bats, birds and large insects. Percentage of birds to bats in diet varies greatly between areas, and the overall contribution of... read more


    Most data from E Mexico, with only handful of nesting attempts observed elsewhere. Season seems protracted: in Guatemala (Petén),... read more


    Apparently sedentary, but at least some (perhaps mainly juveniles) wander during non-breeding... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Widespread and generally not uncommon in appropriate habitat, it being one of the most widely distributed New World falcons... read more

    Recommended citation

    Bierregaard, R.O., Jr & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 April 2020).