Falcon diurnal bird of prey of family Falconidae, a heterogenous group under the order Ciconiiformes, with pointed wings, a square tail, and a notched bill. They are distributed worldwide. Falcons are the smallest of about 60 species of hawks (15-60 cm). The term Falcon is applied to members of the genus Falco, which has about 38 species. Bangladesh has 9 species of which 5 are migratory. Kestrel, Hobby and Merlin are also falcons. There are 13 Kestrels worldwide; Bangladesh has 2 species, both are migratory. Common Kestrel or the Northern-hemisphere Kestrel is often seen hovering above roads. Hobby, occurring in the Old World (4 species worldwide; Bangladesh has 2 of which one is migratory) is a fast-flying acrobatic bird and a superb hunter. Merlin is a small falcon, with dark plumage and reddish underparts. The Red-necked Falcon or Redheaded Merlin was a common sight in Dhaka City as late as the early seventies.
Falcons and hawks are used to capture birds or small mammals. Falconry was known to the ancient Chinese, Persians, and Egyptians. It has been practised since ancient times in the Middle East; it was introduced from Asia to Eastern Europe and then to Western Europe. After the 17th century falconry has declined. The falcons, taken when they are young, are subjected to rigorous course of training. The most characteristic species is the Peregrine Falcon (Falco pregrinus), a crow-sized bird, which 'stoops' by circling high up and then folds its wings back to dive at prey like flying waterfowl or other birds; it is capable of swift flight, when it often seizes or kill its prey with a mid-air blow. The bird strikes with clenched talons, kills the prey by impact. Its power drive may reach a velocity of about 180 kilometers per hour (112 miles per hour), the fastest of all birds. When falconry was the sport of kings, the peregrine was the most popular falcon. In true falcons, the female is larger and bolder, and is most sought by falconers. The male hawk, which is smaller than the female by one-third, is called tercel by the falconers; only the larger female hawk is properly called the falcon. Smaller kestrels habitually hover in search of ground prey; some are gregarious and live and breed in colonies. Most falcons breed as solitary pairs.
Bangladesh has 4 resident Falcon: Turmuti (Red-necked Falcon, Falco chicquera): a little falcon, bluish grey above, white below. Head is chestnut and conspicuous. In flight the narrow white edging to end of tail, preceded by a broad black band can be seen; Laggar Falcon (Falco jugger): ashy brown falcon with brown-streaked white underparts, and narrow brown moustachial stripes running down from in front and below the eyes. Immature birds have brown underneath. Sexes are alike; Oriental Hobby (Falco severus): slaty grey above with blackish head. Thighs and under tail-coverts rufous. Breast and below is ferruginous; Pied Falconet (Microhierax melanoleucos): resembles Amur Falcon but black above and pure white below. Sexes are alike. Falcons of Bangladesh 5 migratory species are: Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni); Shaheen Falcon (Falco peregrinus): a crow-sized broad-shouldered falcon; slaty above with black head, nape, and conspicuous moustachial stripes. Throat and breast white; rest of underparts is ferruginous. Young are blacker above, striped on breast, and heavily barred on flanks; Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo): slaty grey above with blackish head. Rusty white broadly streaked with black below. Thighs and under tail-coverts are rufous. Sexes are alike; Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus): brick red above with grey head; light buff below with brown spearhead spots. In flight pointed black wings and rounded grey tail with broad black terminal band can be seen; Amur Falcon (Falco vespertinus): Male- slaty-grey above, ash grey below but for rusty red vent thighs and under tail-coverts. Female- slaty grey barred with black; hindneck with whitish nuchal collar. Pales rusty white below, spotted with black on upper breast; bars on lower breast and flanks. [Md. Anwarul Islam]