Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Near Threatened

Red-headed Falcon (Falco chicquera)


French: Faucon chicquera German: Rotkopffalke Spanish: Alcotán turumti
Other common names: Red-headed Falcon, Red-necked Falcon (when lumped with F. ruficollis), Red-headed Merlin

Falco chicquera


, 1800,



Similar in hunting behaviour to F. columbarius, but probably not closely related, and eggs more like those of F. subbuteo group (which see). Hitherto often treated as conspecific with F. ruficollis, which differs in its barred vs plain back, scapulars, rump and uppertail, with heavier barring below and on wings (3); plain, slightly elongated pale buff-pink breast feathers vs plain white or narrowly dark-streaked upper breast (2); chestnut of nape extending less onto mantle (2); more black markings on eyebrow and moustachial stripe (ns[1]); and preferred breeding habitat, closely linked to Borassus palms and not generally associated with human habitation vs frequent nesting close to villages, and only occasionally in Borassus (1). Further, genetic differences between ruficollis (African) and Asian chicquera suggested as sufficient to warrant treatment as separate species#R#R. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

SE Iran E through Pakistan and India to Nepal and Bangladesh.

Descriptive notes

28–34 cm; male c. 160 g, female c. 250 g; wingspan 55–70 cm. Slim-bodied, smallish falcon with rather short, pointed wings and a longish, round-tipped tail. Crown... read more


Like many falcons, considered to be rather silent except when nesting; calls described as shrill,... read more


Associated with patches of trees adjoining open country, from along watercourses in desert to ... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly small birds of 10–150 g (e.g. larks, pipits, sparrows, hirundines, kingfishers), and up to the size of crakes, quails, waders... read more


Lays mainly in dry season: Dec–May in India; Feb–Apr in Pakistan. Nests in old stick nest of other species such as kites,... read more


Resident in many areas, but nomadic in others, e.g. appearing only in winter in parts of Assam (... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened because of suspected population declines from habitat destruction. CITES II. Most common in areas of low... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Red-headed Falcon (Falco chicquera). 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 15 December 2019).