Red-headed Falcon Falco chicquera


Justification of Red List Category
This recently-split falcon is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline over three generations owing to the effects of ongoing habitat degradation. It is therefore classified as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number in the tens of thousands.

Trend justification
No trend data are available, but the species is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline (approaching 30% over three generations [c.19 years]), owing to ongoing habitat degradation.

Distribution and population

Falco chicquera is found across much of South Asia, including Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and into Myanmar. It has also been claimed to occur in south-eastern Iran (del Hoyo et al. 1994) however the species is only known there from one historical record (R. Ayé in litt. 2014). This species is noted to have disappeared from many parts of India, in what is perceived as an overall decline (A. Rahmani in litt. 2011), it is widespread but uncommon in Pakistan, where it has declined since the 1940s in part due to the falconry trade (Roberts 1991), and rare in Bangladesh. In Nepal it is uncommon at Koshi in the far eastern terai but is widely but very thinly spread over other localities in the terai (Inskipp et al. 2016) with most Nepal records outside the protected areas’ system (Inskipp et al. 2016).


Tends to be found in open country with patches of trees close to water, often in regions of low rainfall (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Frequently nests around villages or even within densely populated cities in India. Recorded generally from sea-level to 1,000 m. Mostly takes small birds caught on the wing and frequently hunts in pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Laying takes place during January-May in India, February-April in Pakistan (del Hoyo et al. 1994), and has been reported January-February in Bangladesh (Foysal 2014). Nomadic in some areas, but mostly resident (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


The species was probably naturally sparsely distributed and requiring large territories. Rapid urbanisation and development may be the main cause of declines in parts of the range, for example around Bangalore city, where the population dwindled from five breeding pairs prior to the mid 1990s to only sporadic recent sightings, presumably due to the conversion of habitat within their territories into densely packed bustling residential/built-up areas (S. Subramanya in litt. 2014). In Nepal there has been a sharp reduction in abundance in the Kathmandu Valley, from being very common in the 19th century to absent over at least the last 25 years. The cause of this decline is uncertain but may relate to widespread and intensive pesticide use (Inskipp et al. 2016). At least historically, capture for the falconry trade may have posed an additional threat (Roberts 1991).

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway
No targeted actions are known.

Conservation and research actions proposed
Continue to carry out regular surveys to monitor population trends. Conduct further research into the effects of changes in urban areas, agricultural land and land management. Prevent capture for trade in problem areas through law enforcement, prosecution and awareness campaigns.


30-36cm. A small, dashing falcon with a chestnut crown and neck, white throat, and plain, pale blue-grey upperside and tail with a black subterminal band and white tip. Underparts are white with fine black barring. Similar spp. African F. ruficollis has a darker, narrowly black-barred back and tail, black moustacial stripe and eyebrow, and denser black barring below.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Martin, R, Westrip, J.

Subramanya, S., Baral, H., Ayé, R., Vyas, V., Singh, A., Inskipp, C., Rahmani, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Falco chicquera. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/05/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/05/2019.