Sooty Falcon Falco concolor


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - C2a(ii)

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Vulnerable C2a(ii)
2017 Vulnerable C2a(ii)
2016 Near Threatened C1+2a(ii)
2013 Near Threatened C1+2a(ii)
2012 Near Threatened C1+2a(ii)
2008 Near Threatened C1; C2a(ii)
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency low
Land mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 6,140,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 2,370,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 2800-4000 poor estimated 2014
Population trend decreasing poor inferred -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations 1 - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation 100 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 4.1 - - -

Population justification: Estimating the total population has proved notoriously difficult, partly due to lack of data, and the population may have been overestimated in the past (Kavanaugh and King 2008). Estimates of the total populations have ranged from 1,000-40,000 pairs, roughly equivalent to 2,000-80,000 mature individuals, and 3,000-120,000 individuals in total (Nicoll et al. 2008). However, there are now thought to be no more than a few thousand wintering in Madagascar and a review of all Arabian census data found that the total Arabian population is probably just below 500 breeding pairs (Jennings and Sadler 2006; F. Hawkins in litt. 2007). Given that the Arabian population is generally regarded as the largest within its range (perhaps half of the world population), the estimate from Madagascar may indeed prove to be accurate (Jennings and Sadler 2006). Knowledge gaps about the population exist for inland areas of Egypt, Sudan, and Libya, and from the islands of the Dhalak Archipelago, Eritrea, and some Egyptian islands in the Red Sea. More recently, the draft International Single Species Action Plan for the species has provided clearer population estimates, with the breeding population estimated at 1,400-2,000 pairs (Gallo-Orsi et al. 2014), equating to 2,800-4,000 mature individuals.

This species is migratory and based on its wintering grounds and passage route it is assumed that all individuals have an opportunity to mix. Therefore it is tentatively assumed to function as one subpopulation.

Trend justification: There have been declines in the breeding population in many countries, with no population known to be increasing (Kavanaugh and King 2008; Gallo-Orsi et al. 2014; McGrady et al. 2017). Anecdotal evidence from Madagascar indicates a decline, and this is mirrored by data from breeding colonies in the Middle East (Kavanagh and King 2003; F. Hawkins in litt. 2007; M. McGrady et al. 2017, 2018, 2019); each of the latter when surveyed has shown a decline relative to previous survey results (McGrady and Nicoll 2008; Shah et al. 2008; McGrady et al. 2018, 2019). The small population in the UAE declined from 14-25 pairs in 1996 to five pairs in 2007 (Shah et al. 2008). The draft ISSAP also reports that there have been declines in the breeding population in many countries, including up to a 50% decline in Saudia Arabia, which holds c.15% of the population, with no population known to be increasing (Gallo-Orsi et al. 2014). Therefore a slow or moderate and ongoing population decline is inferred to be taking place, the overall rate of which has not been quantified, but is not currently thought to be >20% over three generations.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Bahrain extant native yes
Cyprus extant vagrant
Djibouti extant native yes
Egypt extant native yes
Eritrea extant native yes
Iran, Islamic Republic of extant native yes
Israel extant native yes
Jordan extant native yes
Kenya extant native yes
Kuwait extant vagrant yes yes
Libya extant native yes
Madagascar extant native yes
Mali extant vagrant
Malta extant vagrant
Mauritius extant native yes
Mozambique extant native yes yes
Oman extant native yes
Pakistan extant native yes
Palestine extant native yes
Qatar extant native yes
Réunion (to France) extant native yes
Saudi Arabia extant native yes
Seychelles extant vagrant yes yes
Somalia extant native yes
South Africa extant native yes
Sudan extant native yes
Syria extant vagrant yes
Tanzania extant native yes
Turkey extant vagrant
United Arab Emirates extant native yes
Yemen extant native yes
Zimbabwe extant vagrant

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Bahrain Hawar Islands
Chad Ouadi Rimé - Ouadi Achim
Egypt Gebel Elba
Egypt Gebel Maghara
Egypt Hurghada archipelago
Egypt Nabq Protected Area
Egypt Qulân islands
Egypt Quseima
Egypt St Katherine Protectorate
Egypt The Abraq area
Egypt Wadi Gerafi
Egypt Wadi Gimal island
Egypt Zabargad island
Eritrea Dehalak Archipelago and offshore islands
Israel Cliffs of Zin and the Negev highlands
Israel Judean desert
Israel Northern Arava valley
Israel Southern Arava valley and Elat mountains
Jordan Aqaba coast and mountains
Jordan Dana
Jordan Hisma Basin - Rum
Jordan Petra
Jordan Wadi Mujib
Libya Ghat oases
Libya Zallaf
Niger NNR Aïr - Ténéré
Oman Bandar Jussah
Oman Daymaniyat Islands
Oman Fahl Island
Oman Ra's Abu Da'ud
Oman Ra's as Sawadi - Juzor as Sawadi
Saudi Arabia Al-Wajh Bank
Saudi Arabia Farasan Islands
Saudi Arabia Kutambil island
Saudi Arabia Qishran Bay
Sudan Khor Arba'at
Sudan Mukawwar island and Dunganab bay
United Arab Emirates Faziya
Yemen Islands north of Al-Hudaydah
Yemen Jaza'ir al-Hanish
Yemen Zubayr group of islands

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Desert Hot major breeding
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable non-breeding
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland suitable non-breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major breeding
Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks) suitable breeding
Savanna Dry suitable non-breeding
Shrubland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable non-breeding
Shrubland Subtropical/Tropical Moist suitable non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 1500 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Scale Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Persecution/control Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Species mortality
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species disturbance
Human intrusions & disturbance Work & other activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Species disturbance
Pollution Agricultural & forestry effluents - Herbicides and pesticides Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Reduced reproductive success

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Falco concolor. Downloaded from on 01/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/06/2023.