Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans)


French: Macagua rieur German: Lachfalke Spanish: Halcón reidor

Falco cachinnans


, 1758,



Up to six races recognized by different authors, but most are based on individual variation; thus, excubitor (W Mexico), chapmani (Mexico to Honduras), maestus (N Peru) and queribundus (E Bolivia to E Brazil, S to N Argentina) included within nominate. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. c. cachinnans (Linnaeus, 1758) – W & E Mexico (S from S Sonora and San Luis Potosí) S through Central America to NE Panama, N Colombia and, E of Andes, to E Peru, E Bolivia, Paraguay and NE Argentina (to N Santa Fe and Corrientes) and E to N, E & SE Brazil (S to São Paulo; isolated record in N Rio Grande do Sul#R).
  • H. c. fulvescens Chapman, 1915 – extreme E Panama (Darién) to NW Peru (Tumbes).
  • Descriptive notes

    45–53 cm; male 408–686 g, female 590–800 g; wingspan 75–91 cm. Relatively large, aberrant and highly distinctive falconid, with short, round-tipped... read more


    Vocalizations well known, including to local people in rural areas, who sometimes ascribe evil... read more


    Tropical (where most numerous) and subtropical zones: common at forest edge and open forest in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost exclusively snakes, both terrestrial and arboreal, including large and venomous ones, e.g. coral (Micrurus), fer-de-lance... read more


    In Costa Rica, eggs in Feb; in Venezuela, Sept (wet season); in Argentina, Jan; in SE Brazil, nest with recently hatched chick in Sept, in... read more


    Presumed to be mainly sedentary, but presence said to be temporary all over Brazil, with one Aug... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Uncommon to fairly common within extensive range, e.g. Colombia, Surinam; local throughout most of Brazil, and rare in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Bierregaard, R.O., Jr & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans). 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 21 February 2020).