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Orange-breasted Falcon Falco deiroleucus
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Based on a model of future deforestation in the Amazon basin, as well as evidence of declines elsewhere within its extensive range, it is suspected that the total population of this species is undergoing ongoing declines at the rate of 25-30% over three generations, and it has therefore been uplisted to Near Threatened.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Typical medium-sized falcon with a loud acsiiiiiic call. Overall colouration very dark. Underparts mainly orange, with black barring. Iris brown; bill dark with yellow base and cere; legs yellow-orange.

Distribution and population
Falco deiroleucus has a range covering much of Latin America. The most northerly limit of its distribution is in southern Mexico. In 1992, a total of 10 pairs were known from Belize and Tikal National Park, Guatemala. The species is known from throughout southern Central America, through El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama to Colombia, where it is very rare (del Hoyo et al. 1994). From there, its range extends eastwards through Venezuela, where it is considered scarce and local with most known pairs in remote locations (Hilty 2003, Restall et al. 2006). In Guyana and Suriname it is also scarce, and likewise in French Guiana, although here it is at least widespread. It is scarce in Trinidad and Tobago, with no records from the latter island. It is rare in Ecuador, and is also known to range through Brazil and Bolivia to Paraguay, north Argentina (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Restall et al. 2006), and was recorded for the first time in Chile, at Calama, in 2007 (Jara 2008). Declines in territory occupancy, average annual fledgling production per pair and the overall breeding productivity of the population were noted between 1992-1997 and 2003-2009 in Belize (Berry et al. 2010), and these declines continue (R. B. Berry in litt. 2011). The small population (c.30 pairs) in Belize and Guatemala appears to be isolated (Berry et al. 2010, R. B. Berry in litt. 2011), and an analysis of historical and contemporary records suggests that the species has been extirpated from much of Central America and southern Mexico, and that its range is contracting in South America (Berry et al. 2010). The species is thus suspected to have declined overall, owing primarily to continued habitat loss and fragmentation, and this negative trend is projected to continue (Bird et al. 2011).

Population justification
Partners in Flight estimated the population to number fewer than 50,000 individuals (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008), thus it is placed in the band 20,000-49,999 individuals here.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 23.9-27.5% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (18 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It has some tolerance of forest degradation, but is poorly known and therefore suspected to decline by a rate approaching 30% over three generations.

This species occurs in a range of habitats, including lowland forest, savanna edges, drier regions such as the Chaco, and subtropical mountain slopes. It also occurs in human-modified landscapes, but only if mature forest is the dominant habitat (Berry et al. 2010). It is found mostly up to 1,100 m, but has been recorded at c.2,900 m (Carrión and Vargas 2008). It is a highly specialised hunter of flying prey, mainly birds, but also bats. In Guatemala and Belize, courtship begins in February and offspring fledge in May and June. The nest is built on a cliff face, or rarely in a tree, often near water (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Berry et al. 2010).


The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon Basin (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011), although the clearance, fragmentation and degradation of its forest habitat is expected to be a significant threat to the species throughout much of its range. The species, however, exhibits some tolerance of forest fragmentation and degradation, being recorded in modified landscapes with cultivated fields, orchards and pastures (Berry et al. 2010), and it has been found nesting in dead trees in cattle pastures (A. Lees in litt. 2011). This suggests that it is not in rapid decline as a result. A further problem associated with habitat loss appears to be its displacement from nest sites by Black Vulture Coragyps atratus, whose arrival is linked to human occupation and deforestation (del Hoyo et al. 1994). The construction at three hydroelectric dams along the Macal River, Belize, initiated in 1993 and still on-going today, has been implicated in the loss of two territories in the 1990s, and has exposed two still active territories to an influx of construction workers, increased public access, the risk of electrocution and collision with powerlines, and increased numbers of Black Vultures (Berry et al. 2010). The species may suffer a low level of direct persecution by humans, and average nesting success appears to be depressed by frequent predation, at least in some areas. The species may also be negatively impacted by the presence of Africanised Bees. In addition, the species is affected by high tourist traffic in the vicinity of some breeding sites (Berry et al. 2010).

Conservation Actions Underway
This species occurs in a number of protected areas throughout its extensive range. Fundación ProAves Colombia has designated a reserve in the East Andes specifically for the protection of this species (T. Donegan in litt. 2012). The experimental introduction of captive-bred birds of Panamanian origin is being carried out in the Mountain Pine Ridge of Belize, which should reveal whether inbreeding depression has been the cause of lowered breeding productivity (Berry et al. 2010).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out a periodic meta-analysis of all known records and conduct further surveys to study the species's range, population size and trends. Monitor habitat trends across its range. Encourage the protection of nests by land-owners. Investigate methods for reducing the impacts of Black Vultures and other predators and nest competitors (Berry et al. 2010). Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006). Campaign against proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code that would lead to a decrease in the width of the areas of riverine forest protected as Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs), which function as vital corridors in fragmented landscapes.

Berry, R. B.; Benkman, C. W.; Muela, A.; Seminario, Y.; Curti, M. 2010. Isolation and decline of a population of the Orange-breasted Falcon. Condor 112(3): 479-489.

Bird, J. P.; Buchanan, J. M.; Lees, A. C.; Clay, R. P.; Develey, P. F.; Yépez, I.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2011. Integrating spatially explicit habitat projections into extinction risk assessments: a reassessment of Amazonian avifauna incorporating projected deforestation. Diversity and Distributions: doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00843.x.

Carrión, J. M.; Vargas, F. H. 2008. First record of the Orange-breasted Falcon (Falco deiroleucus) in Quito. Neotropical Raptor Network Newsletter 5: 2.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Hilty, S. L. 2003. Birds of Venezuela. A&C Black, London.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Jara, L. D. 2008. First record of the Orange-breasted Falcon in Chile. Neotropical Raptor Network Newsletter 5: 5.

Restall, R.; Rodner, C.; Lentino, M. 2006. Birds of northern South America: an identification guide. Volume 1: species accounts. Christopher Helm, London.

Soares-Filho, B.S.; Nepstad, D.C.; Curran, L.M.; Cerqueira, G.C.; Garcia, R. A.; Ramos, C. A.; Voll, E.; McDonald, A.; Lefebvre, P.; Schlesinger, P. 2006. Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin. Nature 440(7083): 520-523.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N. & Taylor, J.

Berry, R., Donegan, T., Lees, A. & Panjabi, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Falco deiroleucus. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Falconidae (Falcons, Caracaras)
Species name author Temminck, 1825
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,250,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species