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Aplomado Falcon

November 15, 2023

The Aplomado Falcon is a striking and agile bird of prey found throughout the Americas. With its exceptional speed and agility, this falcon is an expert hunter and a captivating sight for bird enthusiasts. In this comprehensive blog, we will explore the size and shape, color pattern, behavior, habitat, and interesting facts about the Aplomado Falcon. We will also discuss the critical ecosystem services it provides and conclude with the importance of conserving this fascinating bird species.


Size and Shape

The Aplomado Falcon is a medium-sized bird of prey, with a body length of about 14 to 17 inches and a wingspan of 33 to 40 inches. Despite being slender and long-winged, this falcon is powerful and built for speed. Its streamlined body and long tail enable it to maneuver effortlessly through the air as it pursues its prey.

The Aplomado Falcon's bill is relatively small and hooked, designed for tearing into prey, while its sharp, curved talons are well-suited for catching and holding onto its quarry. The legs of this falcon are relatively long, allowing it to perch and walk on the ground with ease. This feature is particularly useful when hunting in open habitats, where the falcon often chases down its prey on foot.


Color Pattern

The Aplomado Falcon boasts a striking plumage that sets it apart from other falcon species. Its back and wings are a deep slate-blue, while the underparts are predominantly white with a dense pattern of fine, dark bars. The head is characterized by a bold black "mustache" and a white stripe above the eye, which contrasts sharply against the dark blue-gray crown.

The long tail is banded with black and white bars, with a broad black terminal band. The legs and feet are yellow, while the cere (the fleshy area surrounding the nostrils) is a bright yellow-orange, adding a touch of color to the bird's appearance. Juvenile Aplomado Falcons have a more muted coloration, with brownish-gray upperparts and streaked underparts.



Aplomado Falcons are diurnal hunters, primarily active during the day. They employ a variety of hunting techniques, including aerial pursuit and ground pursuit. Their agile flight and exceptional speed allow them to catch a wide range of prey, such as small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.

These falcons are often observed perching on fence posts, trees, or other elevated structures, scanning the landscape for potential prey. Once they spot a target, they launch into a swift pursuit, using their agility to outmaneuver their quarry. Aplomado Falcons are also known to hunt cooperatively with other individuals or even with other bird species, such as caracaras, to flush out and catch prey more efficiently.

During the breeding season, Aplomado Falcons form monogamous pairs and work together to raise their young. Both parents share the responsibilities of nest-building, incubation, and chick-rearing. The male often provides food for the female and the chicks during the early stages of chick development.



Aplomado Falcons inhabit a wide range of open habitats, such as grasslands, savannas, marshes, and deserts. They can be found at elevations from sea level up to about 9,800 feet. Historically, their range extended from the southern United States through Central and South America. However, habitat loss and fragmentation have led to a significant decline in their populations, particularly in the United States and northern Mexico.

In recent years, conservation efforts, including habitat restoration and reintroduction programs, have been implemented to help reestablish Aplomado Falcon populations in their former range.



  1. The Aplomado Falcon is one of the few falcon species that regularly perches and hunts on the ground, taking advantage of its long legs and agility.
  2. Although Aplomado Falcons do not build their own nests, they often use abandoned nests of other bird species, such as hawks or caracaras, or they may nest on ledges, cliffs, or even on human-made structures like powerline towers.
  3. The name "Aplomado" is derived from the Spanish word "aplomado," meaning "lead-colored," referring to the blue-gray coloration of the bird's back and wings.
  4. Aplomado Falcons are known to be highly adaptable and opportunistic, often hunting in agricultural areas where they can find an abundance of prey.
  5. The Aplomado Falcon's conservation status is listed as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), primarily due to its extensive range throughout Central and South America. However, the species remains endangered in the United States, with only small populations found in Texas and New Mexico.


Ecosystem Services

Aplomado Falcons play a vital role in the ecosystems they inhabit by helping to control populations of small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. As predators, they contribute to maintaining a balance in the food chain and can help to regulate prey species that might otherwise become overabundant.

Additionally, Aplomado Falcons can also benefit agriculture by preying on pests that can damage crops, such as rodents and insects. By controlling these pest populations, they provide a valuable service to farmers and contribute to the overall health and productivity of agricultural lands.

The presence of Aplomado Falcons also serves as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem, as they require large, intact habitats with abundant prey to thrive. Conservation efforts to protect and restore the habitat of these birds can also benefit a wide range of other species that share the same environment.



The Aplomado Falcon is a captivating and unique bird of prey, characterized by its striking coloration, agile flight, and diverse hunting techniques. By exploring its size and shape, color pattern, behavior, habitat, and interesting facts, we gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for this remarkable species.

As a top predator, the Aplomado Falcon plays a critical role in the ecosystems it inhabits, providing essential services such as controlling prey populations and benefiting agriculture. The ongoing conservation efforts to protect and restore the Aplomado Falcon's habitat are crucial not only for the survival of the species but also for the health and diversity of the ecosystems they call home.