Laughing falcons are found in the neotropical region. They are most common in Central America and tropical South America. (Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001)
Laughing falcon habitat includes open parts of tall forests as well as deforested country with scattered trees. Laughing falcons can also be found around forest clearings and edges. They can be found from sea level to elevations of 2500 m. (Brown and Amadon, 1968; Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001)
Herpetotheres cachinnans typically has a large creamy yellow or whitish head with black coloring around its large owl-sized eyes creating what looks like a mask. It has a thick yellow bill. Its wings are short and only reach to the base of its tail. The cream colored tail is striped with black. Adults weigh between 400 and 800 g, are 40 to 47 cm in length and have wingspans of 25 to 31 cm. There is little size difference between the sexes, however, the female has a slightly longer tail and is slightly heavier. (Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001)
There is little information about mating systems for laughing falcons. Most falcons (family Falconidae) are monogamous and they usually nest as solitary pairs. Laughing falcons use vocal performances to attract mates. Often pairs will sing in duets for minutes at a time near dusk and dawn. (del Hoyo, et al., 1994)
The breeding season for laughing falcons varies with latitude. They usually lay one to two eggs per clutch. No information was available about the time to hatching for laughing falcons, however, for falcons in general hatching occurs after 45 to 50 days and the chicks fledge in about 57 days. (Brown and Amadon, 1968)
The parents share the incubation duties, although toward the time of hatching the female is reluctant to move from the nest. After the egg has hatched (45 to 50 days) the male assumes the role of hunter and the female tends to the young. It is extremely rare for a male laughing falcon to feed the young. No information was available regarding when parents stop feeding the young. However, in general, birds of prey decrease feeding slowly over time until the young are forced to fly from the nest and find food. (Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001)
There was no information available regarding the lifespan of laughing falcons in the wild. The longest recorded lifespan in captivty is 14 years. (Brown and Amadon, 1968)
Laughing falcons are generally solitary birds except during mating. They are crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn) and defend territories. Their most distinguishable behavior is the "laughing" call. They call in duets with the opposite sex for several minutes producing loud sounds that resemble laughter.
We do not have information on home range for this species at this time.
Laughing falcons communicate with a "laughing" call. They call in duets with the opposite sex for several minutes producing loud sounds that resemble laughter.
The primary diet of laughing falcons consists of small snakes. The birds hunt from an open perch and then pounce on the snake. It is possible hear a thud as the bird kills its prey. Laughing falcons grip the snake behind the head, sometimes breaking it off. They have been known to occasionally eat lizards, bats, rodents and fish. (Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001)
We do not have information on predation for this species at this time.
Because of their feeding habits, laughing falcons have an impact on the populations of the prey they eat.
There is a rare practice called falconry in which a bird is trained to seek and kill prey for humans. Although there is no information stating that this particular species of falcon is used in falconry, it is a possibility that they were used in the past.
The negative impact that laughing falcons have on humans has been greatly exaggerated. Many farmers dislike birds of prey in general because they claim that the birds kill their livestock. For this reason they have been persecuted for years, sometimes to the point of extinction. (Brown and Amadon, 1968)
Laughing falcons are listed as Appendix II by CITES.
Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Anna Bobinsky (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
active at dawn and dusk
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
Brown, L., D. Amadon. 1968. Eagles, Hawks, and Falcons of the World. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
Ferguson-Lees, J., D. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the World. London: Christopher Helm.
Skutch, F. 1999. Trogons, Laughing Falcons and other Neotropical Birds. College Station, Texas: Texas A & M University Press.
del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, J. Sargatal. 1994. Handbook of Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.