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Species Guide

Barred Forest Falcon

Micrastur ruficollis

The Barred Forest Falcon, Micrastur ruficollis, is a bird of prey belonging to the Falconidae family. It is a medium-sized raptor, with a length ranging from 31 to 39 cm (12 to 15 inches). Males are lighter, weighing between 144 to 184 grams (5.1 to 6.5 ounces), while females are heavier at 200 to 322 grams (7.1 to 11.4 ounces). The adult's plumage is predominantly dark slate gray above, with a tail featuring white tips and several narrow white bars. The throat is a pale gray, blending into the darker slate of the crown, and the underparts are white with fine, distinct black or dark gray barring.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Barred Forest Falcon, look for the white-tipped tail with its narrow bars and the finely barred white underparts. The eyes range from cream to light orange-brown, the bill is black with a yellow base on the lower mandible, and the cere, lores, and orbit are yellow. The legs are an orange-yellow, adding a splash of color to this otherwise subdued bird.


This species is found in mature upland forests, with a preference for mature tropical forests in Central America. In South America, it inhabits a variety of forest types, including secondary forests, gallery forests, and semideciduous forests. It tends to avoid areas with pronounced human influence, requiring primary or mature secondary forests to thrive.


The Barred Forest Falcon is distributed from southern Mexico through Central America and across every mainland South American country, except Chile and Uruguay. It has six recognized subspecies, each with a specific range within this distribution.


The Barred Forest Falcon is a year-round resident in its range, with occasional vagrants recorded beyond. It is known for its stealthy hunting tactics, often perching quietly before ambushing prey with a swift chase. It also employs other hunting methods, such as chasing on foot, following army ant swarms, and nest robbing.

Song & Calls

The species is known for its "advertising call," a dog-like yapping sound, as well as a "bouncing-ball" series of calls. Males may engage in vocal sparring, with one emitting a rapid chitter and the other a rapid clucking.


Breeding season varies by location, with known periods in Guatemala from mid-April to early August, early June in Amazonian Brazil, and October in Colombia. The Barred Forest Falcon nests in tree cavities, laying clutches of two to six eggs. The female incubates the eggs, and both parents provision the nestlings, with the male contributing the majority of the effort.

Similar Species

There are no similar species mentioned in the provided content.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists of lizards, small birds, mammals, bats, snakes, and frogs. The Barred Forest Falcon employs various hunting techniques, including perching and ambushing, chasing prey on foot, and exploiting army ant swarms.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Barred Forest Falcon as Least Concern, with an estimated population of at least half a million mature individuals. Despite a suspected population decline, there are no immediate threats identified for this species.

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Barred Forest Falcons on Birda


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