Bird Families

Small, brave and swift, the bird of 2021, the falcon is chosen


CAT - BIRD OF 2021

Every year since 1996, the Union for the Conservation of Birds of Russia (SOPR) has chosen the bird of the year. Environmental education events and conservation actions are dedicated to this bird, which take place throughout the year. In 2020, the falcon (Falco vespertinus) became the symbols of the Russian Bird Conservation Union.

This is an extremely rare species. Kobchik is listed in the Appendix to the Red Book of Russia and the Red Book of the Perm Territory (second category of rarity).

The Russian zoologist and naturalist Leonid Pavlovich Sabaneev (1874) observed the red fawn both in the northern and southern regions, where it was more numerous. Sergei Leonidovich Ushkov (1927) considered it to be ubiquitous in the middle of the region. A.I. Dushin (1935) met a male fawn once and counted R. Kama in the Gain region is the northern border of its distribution. P.G. Efremov (1935) found it to be a common nesting bird in the same places. EAT. Vorontsov (1949) wrote that the red-footed fawn is common for the study area, tends to river valleys, and is rarely found outside of them.

Apparently, the red-footed fawn has never been a numerous species in the Urals. Contradictory information about its occurrence is a consequence of the uneven, mosaic distribution in the region.

In the Vishera Territory S.A. Reztsov (1904) found it common at the end of the 19th century, but S.A. Teploukhov (1911) at the beginning of the XX century did not meet a male male fawn. In the Northern Urals L.A. Portenko (1931) considered it a normally nesting, but rather rare species; during the nesting period, it was observed by A.A. Estafiev (1977).

Ornithologists believe that flying of the red-footed falcon, as well as nesting in the Vishera Territory, is quite possible.

Kobchik is a representative of the falcon order. With its proportions and way of life, it resembles a kestrel, but differs from it in narrow wings. The body length of the bird is from 28 to 33 cm, the length of the wings is 23-35 cm, the wingspan is from 65 to 77 cm, the weight is in the range from 130 to 197 g. The beak is short and weak.

The plumage of the male is of a dark-gray color with a brick-reddish tint of the belly, undertail and "trousers". The female is ocher-colored with gray transverse stripes on the back, wings and tail; the belly is decorated with longitudinal streaks. Juveniles are brownish with a light belly covered with longitudinal streaks. Legs, wax and eye ring are red or orange in male cats, and yellow in young birds. Whitish-brown nails. The iris is dark brown.

Male cats, like all birds of prey, prefer animal food. However, due to their rather modest size, these small falcons prey primarily on large insects, such as dragonflies or large beetles. In their wintering grounds, which are in Africa, birds willingly eat locusts.

If insects are absent in the fox's habitat for any reason, then the birds begin to hunt small rodents. In such cases, male moths feed mainly on mice, and also add lizards and small snakes to their diet. In addition, sparrows, and in more rare cases, even such large birds as pigeons, become prey for the falcon.

The Latin species name of the red-footed falcon "vespertinus" translates as "evening", but the bird hunts mainly in the daytime, during the day.


An adult male fawn cannot be confused with any other representative of small falcons. In its plumage, exquisite dark ash-gray tones on the back and wings are set off by the brick-red color of the lower abdomen and "red pants" - bright feathers on the legs. The saturation of their color is a sign of the bird's reaching puberty. In females, the color is more modest - ocher-gray with longitudinal streaks on the belly. The head is decorated with a graceful dark "mask", turning into a dark "mustache".

Kobchik is a tireless hunter.But small - smaller than a pigeon - size and rather weak and short beak do not allow it to kill large prey. Kobchik is a thunderstorm of large insects - locusts, beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, dragonflies, bees and wasps, which make up about 80% of its diet - very nutritious and rich in protein. The feline has a truly amazing coordination of movements, which makes it possible to catch even very small prey both in the air and from the ground. Like the kestrel falcon, it hovers in the air in fluttering flight, looking for prey. There are observations of how birds accompany grazing herds, grabbing scared away insects. However, if you are lucky, the small winged predator will not refuse a small rodent or lizard - this is especially important for a bird during the period of feeding chicks.


Despite its small size, the male cat has a perky, courageous and even slightly "cheeky" disposition. According to some observations, trying to recapture a profitable nesting territory, a tiny male fawn can engage in single combat with a heron. Kobchiks often settle in colonies numbering from tens to hundreds of pairs, for example, in residential or abandoned rookery. These are birds with a highly developed social system - if danger threatens the clutch or chicks, then all adult birds will bravely defend their own. Kobchiks are very responsible parents. The male will never abandon the female sitting on eggs or raising chicks. He will catch as much prey as the family needs.

In nesting colonies, the backbone of the future migratory flock is also formed, which heads south in early October. Kobchik is well adapted to the temperate continental climate, but does not withstand even light frosts, preferring to spend the winter in warm countries. They return to their nesting sites by mid-April. Their favorite biotopes are open: steppes, forest-steppe, farmland. But in large forests, the red-footed fawn does not settle - its flight is not adapted to maneuvering between trees.

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The habitat of felines is huge - from European countries to Kazakhstan, the Urals, Western Siberia. In the Far East, in Mongolia and China, our male male fawn is replaced by a closely related species - the Amur red male (Falco amurensis). The total number of the Amur falcon is estimated at 40 thousand individuals.

"The Amur Falcon also winters in southern Africa, flying more than ten thousand kilometers over almost all of southern Asia and the vastness of the Indian Ocean.- says Evgeny Koblik, senior researcher of the ornithology sector of the Zoological Museum of Moscow State University. - At the same time, almost the entire world population of the species in huge flocks (up to 5 thousand individuals) flies through the "bottleneck"wooded gorges of Nagaland in eastern India. It is here that the locals catch migratory felines in all possible ways. Only recently this predatory extermination was stopped and the number of the species began to recover. "

The decline in the number of male foxes is associated not only with extermination during migrations, but also with the fact that, while hunting for insects on farmland, birds are faced with poisoning with pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. These harmful substances accumulate in the body of fawn and after a while cause serious illness and death. And this problem is relevant not only for fawn, the solution could be the development of ecological agriculture. Another important factor in the decrease in the number of red-footed felines is the cutting down of tall-stemmed trees suitable for nests and the lack of the necessary food base near the nesting sites.

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The search for the habitat of the red-footed fawn, the creation of reserves with a special regime for the conservation of this bird, the environmental education of the population - all these are the tasks of the coming year 2021, which for scientists and nature conservationists will pass under the sign of this amazing feathered predator.

External appearance.

Small falcon, smaller than a dove, body weight 120-200 g, wingspan 65-78 cm.Unlike all other falcons, the male and female have red legs and a bare ring around the eye. The male is slate-black with a red undertail and plumage of legs. The female is slightly larger than the male. The coloration of the female and young birds is gray above with a transverse pattern, below it is buffy, the head is red with a darkish "mustache" and a stripe across the eye, the tail is in narrow transverse stripes. Young birds have dark yellow legs. Unlike the kestrel, the chest is without sharp streaks, the tail and shoulders are gray above.


Mainly inhabits steppes, forest-steppe and cultural landscape, but along the subtaiga forests to the north extends to the city of Yeniseisk [1-6], and along the Yenisei - to the villages of Vorogovo, Komsa and Mirny. To the east, it was nesting in the upper reaches of the river. Podkamennaya Tunguska, at the mouth of the river. Chamby, on the Angara and Chadobets rivers. In the south of the region, it is found in the Achinsk forest-steppe, Minusinsk and Usinsk hollows.

Ecology and biology.

Falcon of southern open spaces, avoiding solid forests. Favorite nesting places in the steppe and forest-steppe are river urems. It sometimes penetrates into the taiga along open river valleys and along the edges of forests. The specificity of the species in the choice of habitats lies in its preference for areas of tall forest and open landscape.

In such areas, several pairs can settle at once. For nesting, it uses buildings of other birds - kites, crows, magpies, rooks, sometimes nests in hollows, on bushes (caragana, willow), occasionally - in holes and on the ground among bushes. There are usually 3-4 eggs in a clutch, both parents incubate. The chicks leave the nest already at the end of June. Broods stay at the nest for about two weeks. The main food is insects, which the male cat catches with its paws on the fly and collects from the ground. Winters in the South African region (app. 1).

Number and limiting factors.

From the beginning of the twentieth century to the 1950s. in the southern regions of the kobchik kobchik was quite numerous [3, 9], but already at the end of the 1970s. its abundance has decreased significantly. Nevertheless, in some areas of the Minusinsk Basin, the nesting population density of the species reached 0.08 individuals per 1 km2. Apparently, the disappearance of the falcon is associated with the treatment of fields with pesticides, which, as you know, accumulate in the body of insects - the main food of this falcon.

In recent years, due to the extensive overgrowing of fields in the subtaiga of the edge, the red-footed fawn has become much more common. The total number of the species is unknown. According to V.S. Zhukov, in the forest-steppe of Central Siberia it is about 4 thousand individuals, it is likely that the total number of birds in the region is only slightly higher. One of the limiting factors at present is the lack of optimal conditions for nesting - tall trees and the necessary food supply near the nesting sites.

Security measures.

On the territory of the region, proper protection of this falcon should be established, a survey of the territories should be carried out to identify the preserved nesting places of the species and a network of seasonal (for the nesting period) micro-reserves should be formed. It is very important to comply with water protection legislation and, first of all, to limit felling, including sanitary and thinning, in the steppe and subtaiga regions of the region along river valleys. The species is listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Khakassia

Sources of information. Red Data Book of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. 1. Bursky, Vakhrushev, 1983, 2. Rogacheva, 1988, 3. Sushkin, 1914, 4. Yudin, 1952, 5. Bushes, 1982, 6. Tugarinov, Buturlin, 1911, 7. Syroechkovsky, 1959, 8. Reimers, 1966, 9. Yanushevich, Yurlov, 1950, 10. Zhukov, 2006.

Compiled by: A.P. Savchenko, A.V. Meidus, I.A. Savchenko. Photo: Alexander Savchenko, Krasnoyarsk, Siberian Federal University, Russia.