This Bat Falcon is eating a bird, but the raptor’s name aptly reflects its skill at catching bats that move to and from their roosts at dawn and dusk.
By Rex Graham
Bat Falcons are relatively small, but fierce. They work quickly during twilight hours when bats are most vulnerable in forests from Mexico to northern Argentina. Many of the more than 1,100 species of “crepuscular” bats feed primarily at dawn and dusk on moths, beetles, flies, mosquitoes and flying termites and ants and similar prey. These bats are on the falcon’s menu.
Bat Falcons, many owls and the falcon-like Bat Hawk know bats’ daily schedules. Falcons increase their hunting efficiency by visiting bat roosts amid confusing departures and returns.
Bat Falcon Diet Diversification
Roughly 64 percent of the bones under a Bat Falcon nest in Guanare, Venezuela, were bat bones. A Venezuelan researcher wrote in Journal of Raptor Research that the Velvety Free-tailed Bat (also called the Pallas’s Mastiff Bat) was a favorite.
(Great Kiskadees in Brazil have been seen catching bats on the wing, and nabbing others sleeping at roost peripheries.)
During the day when bats are unavailable, Bat Falcons diversify their diet. Many photos reveal that they are skilled predators of birds. They attack from tall buildings, from snags near forest clearings and from perches along streams and ponds, where they also occasionally gorge on dragonflies.
Bones under the nest in Venezuela include those of aquatic birds, mockingbirds, doves, finches, swifts and swallows. At one aquatic area in El Salvador, a researcher said, “Bat Falcons were a ‘terror’ to Least Grebes.”