Black Falcon Falco subniger Scientific name definitions

Stephen Debus
Version: 2.0 — Published March 17, 2023



Black Falcon occurs over much of continental Australia, though rarely in the southwestern quarter, and it avoids the forested southeastern coasts and mountains (1). Recent information reveals that it breeds in open valleys on the eastern and southeastern coasts, on wooded tropical floodplains of the north, and in the arid Pilbara region of northwestern Australia, and it occurs on the plains bordering the Gulf of Carpentaria (32, 9, 33, 10, 11, 3).

Extralimital records

A claimed single record for Tasmania is unconfirmed (34, 1), and no description was provided. A single sight record for the North Island of New Zealand, supported by a description (35, 1), appears to be acceptable. There was a hearsay rumor that it might have been an escaped falconer's bird, but it wore no falconry paraphernalia.

Historical Changes to the Distribution

Within the limitations of the scant historical data, there is no evidence that the Black Falcon’s overall continental distribution has changed much during two centuries of European settlement in Australia. There is some suggestion that the species became more numerous in the cleared or partially cleared sheep-wheat belts of eastern Australia, following the creation of open habitats, provision of artificial water sources, the spread of introduced birds (notably European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), feral Rock Pigeon (Columba livia), and recently Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)), and mammals (notably house mouse Mus musculus, black rat Rattus rattus, and European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus), and the growing of cereal crops which favored increasingly abundant native prey species (Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) and Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)) (1, 22). However, the situation has reversed in the early 2000s, and the species is now declining in the southeastern agricultural belt, owing mainly to habitat degradation particularly in riparian zones (36, 37, 24, 3; see Conservation and Management: Effects of Human Activity).

Distribution of the Black Falcon - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Black Falcon

Recommended Citation

Debus, S. (2023). Black Falcon (Falco subniger), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.blafal1.02