Feeding Nature
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What Do Falcons Eat?

What Do Falcons Eat?

Falcons look a lot like eagles accept that these birds typically are smaller and faster.  These birds belong to the Falconidae family and there are about 40 species of falcon found all over the world.

Falcons have thin tapered wings that enable them to fly at high speeds. A falcon can dive at up to 200 miles per hour when they are pursuing their prey.  The fastest recorded dive for a falcon is 390 kilometres per hour.  They can also change their direction rapidly and have longer feathers compared to other bird species.

The gyrfalcon is the largest of their species with a 65cm long while the pygmy falcon is the smallest at just 20cm long.

These birds also have remarkable eyesight.  They can see 2.6 times better than humans and can spot their prey from far.

What Do Falcons Eat?

Falcons are birds of prey.  They hunt and catch smaller prey.  These animals do hunt and eat a variety of prey types such as the following.

Birds

The diets of most falcon species mainly consist of other birds.  Most falcon species consume 77 – 99% of other birds.  Falcons mostly hunt smaller birds such as pigeons, blackbirds, jays, starlings, waterfowl, ducks, grebes, gulls, songbirds, and many others.

The wings of falcons are specially designed for speed and they are much faster than other birds. They also have better eyesight compared to their prey.  These birds will spot prey from afar and will then speed up to their prey.  They can dive down to catch birds by surprise and grab them using their long sharp talons.

Bats

Falcons often misjudge bats with small birds but they don’t mind this misconception at all.  Bats are a very tasty meal for falcons and offer them lots of protein.  They are very likely to catch bats that fly at dusk but are not too likely to catch these birds since falcons are diurnal birds and bats are night creatures.

Fish

Falcons are known to snatch food away from other birds.  They are especially fond of stealing fish from other animals.  Falcons can also catch fish.  They usually fly above the water while searching for fish that might come close to the surface.  The falcons will then dive down and grab the fish from under the water surface and they can even dive down under the water themselves to get their prey.

Small reptiles and amphibians

These birds also forage for land animals during day time.  They are quite fond of catching and eating reptiles like lizards.  They are also known to catch and eat small snakes that they might find.  Falcons also enjoy eating certain amphibians like frogs.

Insects

Not all falcons do eat insects.  But some like the kestrels prefer insects above other foods.  They eat a variety of insect types like grasshoppers, crickets, moths, beetles, worms, and many others.  These falcons will however also catch small mammals during wintertime when there might not be a lot of insects around.

Small Mammals

Small mammals are also a good food source for falcons.  They love to hunt and eat small mammals like rats, mice, bunnies, squirrels, hamsters, shrews, gerbils, and many others.

Diet Variation

These birds usually do not wander from their usual diet.  They typically stick to their carnivore diet and may sometimes eat insects.  But besides these, they are pretty strict when it comes to their foods.

How to Feed Falcons?

Falcons mostly consume meat and they do prefer fresh foods.  They catch all of their prey life but may sometimes steal a fresh kill from other animals.  Ideally, these birds should feed on a variety of bird and animal species because different food types may offer different nutritional benefits.

Falcons also need fresh water every day to stay hydrated and healthy.   They cannot get enough moisture from just food to survive.

What Do Falcons Eat In the Wild?

In the wild, falcons will spend most of their day hunting for prey.  They will feed on all sorts of animals they find in their natural habitat.  Falcons are especially fond of smaller birds but will also catch and eat lizards, frogs, small mammals, and even insects.

What Do Falcons Eat in Captivity?

In captivity, falcons are mostly fed on small animals such as day-old chicks, rats, mice, hamsters, quail, and insects.  Falcons can also be taught to eat carrion meat in which case they will be offered cut meats to feed on.

What do Baby Falcons Eat?

Baby falcons are called chicks and they are usually fed by their parents.  Young falcons are fed by the mother.  Falcons do not regurgitate food back to their young.  Instead, they will take food back to the nest and tear small pieces of meat from the carcass to feed their chicks.

Orphaned falcons are usually fed on cut fresh liver because the liver is fat-free and rich in protein.  These falcons might also be fed on grasshoppers, other insects, or lizard pieces.

How Much Do Falcons Eat?

Falcons need to eat about 21 percent of their body weight every day.  For most falcon species, this is about 3.5 to 5.3 ounces of food per day.  Larger species of falcon-like peregrines need about 70 grams of food per day.

How Often Do Falcons Eat?

Falcons will hunt and feed every day.  They can survive for a few days without food but will preferably feed daily to maintain the high energy levels they need for hunting.

Do Falcons Eat Plants?

Falcons do not eat plant matter.  They may get some plants in by consuming the stomachs of their prey but typically they only eat meat.   They get all their needed minerals by consuming other animals that might have consumed plant matter.

Do Falcons Eat Other Birds?

Yes.  Falcons love to eat other birds that are smaller than they are.  Some falcon species mainly focus on hunting other birds and may even survive on a 99% bird diet.  There are however some falcon species that prefer other foods like insects over other birds.

Do Falcons Eat Snakes?

Yes.  Falcons can eat snakes but this isn’t a very common food source to them.  They usually focus on smaller snake species and they use their sharp beaks to clip the snake’s spine so it cannot attack and bite the falcon.  Even if the snake does manage to bite the falcon, it isn’t very likely to make a strike since there are so many feathers that can get in the way of making a kill.

Do Falcons Eat Cats?

Falcons are mostly too small to catch and eat a cat and they are not likely to do so since they mostly prefer other birds.  If the kitten is small enough it may, however, be mistaken for a mouse in which case the falcon may catch and eat the cat.

Do Falcons Eat Squirrels?

Falcons eat all sorts of small animals including squirrels.  This isn’t the most common food source for them since they spend most of their time hunting for birds.  But in harsh conditions, squirrels can be a very good food source to these birds of prey.

Do Falcons Eat Fish?

Yes.  Falcons can eat fish and they can also catch fish in shallow waters.  It is however much more common for a falcon to steal fish from other animals than it is to see them fishing for their own prey to eat.