Return of Bird of the Week: Laughing Falcon

Wickersham's Conscience

If the Great Black Hawk has a lame name, the Laughing Falcon’s is dead on. The call sounds a lot like demented laughter, and is a signature sound of the Neotropics. When a male and a female get to dueting it will sometimes make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Only the morning chorus of the Howler monkeys and the racket of a colony of Montezuma Oropendolas is spookier.

Laughing Falcon, Pantanal, Brazil Laughing Falcon, Pantanal, Brazil

Another common name for the species is Snake Hawk, but that’s partly inaccurate: it’s a falcon, not a hawk. Both families are raptors, but they are not closely related. The “snake” part is more accurate; snakes are the main item in Laughing Falcon diets. The species hunts from perches or even from the ground. It doesn’t soar and isn’t an especially strong flier.

Laughing Falcon, Pantanal, Brazil Laughing Falcon, Pantanal, Brazil

Laughing Falcons have a quite extended…

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