Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Red-necked Falcon (Falco ruficollis)


French: Faucon à cou roux German: Rothalsfalke Spanish: Alcotán cuellirrojo

Falco ruficollis


, 1837,



Hitherto treated as conspecific with F. chicquera, but 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. Validity of form horsbrughi, described on basis of single individual, has been questioned#R; may not merit recognition. Two subspecies provisionally recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. r. ruficollis Swainson, 1837 – S Mauritania, Senegambia, Guinea to Nigeria and E to Ethiopia, then S to Zambia, Malawi and N Mozambique.
  • F. r. horsbrughi Gunning & Roberts, 1911 – S of R Zambezi, from Zimbabwe and S Mozambique W to Botswana, Namibia and S Angola, and S to N South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    28–36 cm; male 139–178 g, female 190–305 g; wingspan 65–80 cm. Rather small falcon with chestnut crown and nape, white cheeks and throat, small dark... read more


    Main call a series of shrill, scolding notes described as “ki-ki-ki-ki…”,... read more


    Especially common in habitats dominated by Borassus and Hyphaene palms; also... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small birds (e.g. parrots, bee-eaters, doves, swallows, larks, pipits, sparrows, weavers, estrildid finches) up to the size of... read more


    Nests mainly in dry season: Feb–May in Nigeria, Mar–Jul in Sudan, Jan–Apr in Uganda, Jul–Oct elsewhere in E Africa... read more


    Mostly sedentary, but can be nomadic in response to changes in prey numbers. Enters desert areas of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. No data on population trends or numbers over large areas, but generally considered uncommon in most of Africa.... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Marks, J.S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Red-necked Falcon (Falco ruficollis). 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).