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Microhierax fringillarius (Drapiez, 1824)
by Ms. Noor Faradiana Binti Md Fauzi & Mr. Mohammad Shahfiz Azman
© Faradiana, N.M.F.

Microhierax fringillarius, commonly called Black-thighed Falconet, is one of the smallest birds of prey in the family Falconidae. It occurs in Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. The bird can be found in forests, the forest edges, agricultural areas, and parkland, from lowlands up to lower montane elevations at 1,700 m above sea level (Robson, 2014).

This raptor has a shrike-like appearance and a small body size compared to other raptor species, with a body length of around 15-17 cm (Robson, 2014). It is recognisable by its glossy black upperparts, white chest and rusty orange belly. It also has a white forehead stripe that sweeps around its black cheeks. The adult female is similar to the adult male, except for longer tail (Robson, 2014; Lim et al., 2020 and Thai National Parks, 2022). The juvenile looks like the adults but appears paler, and the white areas of the head are rufous (Robson, 2014; Lim et al., 2020; Thai National Parks, 2022). The typical clutch size is around 2 to 5 eggs (Robson, 2014).

This falconet devours insects, including moths, butterflies, dragonflies, cicadas and beetles. It also occasionally feeds on small birds and lizards (White et al., 1994; Wells, 2007; Puan et al., 2020). Setiyono et al. (2014) also observed that this bird species also preyed on a slightly larger bird, the Black-capped Babbler (Pellorneum capistratum), with a body length of 17-18.5 cm (Robson, 2014).

The Black-thighed Falconet usually hunts from perch with good view. It would dash and catch a moving insect swiftly in flight, or catches prey from flowers and leaves above the ground (Setiyono et al., 2014). It commonly returns to the same perch, sometimes a different one.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Black-thighed Falconet has the Least Concern status with a stable population, where the estimated population is in tens of thousands and has no evidence for any declines or significant threats (BirdLife International, 2016 and BirdLife International, 2022).

References

  1. BirdLife International. (2016). Microhierax fringillarius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22696327A93555387. Retrieved August 01, 2022, from https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22696327A93555387.en
  2. BirdLife International. (2022). Species factsheet: Microhierax fringillarius. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from http://www.birdlife.org
  3. Lim, K.S., Yong, D.L. & Lim, K.C. (2020). A Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & Singapore. United Kingdom: John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd. pp. 208.
  4. Puan, C.L., Davison, G. & Lim, K.C. (2020). Birds of Malaysia. Covering Peninsular Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo and Singapore. Lynx and BirdLife International Field Guides. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. pp. 212.
  5. Robson, C. (2014). A field guide to the birds of South-East Asia. London: Bloomsbury Natural History. pp. 303.
  6. Setiyono, J., Diniarsih, S., Noske, R.A., Budi, N.S., Oscilata, E.N.R. & Amna, M.M. (2014). Large prey for a small predator: Black-thighed Falconet Microhierax fringillarius preying on Black-capped Babbler Pellorneum capistratumi. Kukila, 18(1), 32-36.
  7. Thai National Parks. (2022). Black-thighed falconet. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://www.thainationalparks.com/species/black-thighed-falconet
  8. Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Volume 2. Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. pp. 182-183.
  9. White, C.M., Olsen, P.D. & Kiff, L.F. (1994). Family Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras). In del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (Eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world, Volume. 2. New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. pp. 216-275.
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