Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Near Threatened

White-rumped Pygmy-falcon (Polihierax insignis)


French: Fauconnet à pattes jaunes German: Langschwanz-Zwergfalke Spanish: Halconcito asiático
Other common names: White-rumped Falcon

Polihierax insignis


, 1872,

Tongoo, Upper Myanmar


Sometimes awarded separate, monotypic genus Neohierax, a treatment supported by different syringeal morphology#R and by habit of nesting in tree holes made by other birds (rather than in cavities in nest structure of others)#R. Racial variation slight; validity of subspecies requires reassessment. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. i. insignis Walden, 1872 – W & C Myanmar, especially in valley of R Irrawaddy.
  • P. i. cinereiceps E. C. S. Baker, 1927 – S Myanmar (Tenasserim) and Thailand (except E).
  • P. i. harmandi (Oustalet, 1876) – E & SE Thailand#R, C & S Laos, Cambodia and S Vietnam (S Annam, Cochinchina).
  • Descriptive notes

    23–28 cm; 84–112 g; wingspan 42–49 cm. Large slate grey-and-white falconet with conspicuous white rump and uppertail-coverts; larger and much longer-tailed... read more


    A prolonged reedy whistle that descends has been mentioned. Around nest, male arriving with food... read more


    Open, dry dipterocarp, riverine and mixed deciduous woodland, often around clearings; also in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Large insects (mainly cicadas, grasshoppers and beetles) and small birds; also frogs, snakes, lizards (mainly Draco flying lizards... read more


    Little studied. No aerial displays reported. Season Feb–Apr: pair breeding in Feb; female with egg in Mar and pair at nest with eggs... read more


    Apparently sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Uncommon and local in Thailand; not uncommon in W Ratanakiri, Cambodia. Considered to have... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clark, W.S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). White-rumped Pygmy-falcon (Polihierax insignis). 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 29 February 2020).