Raptors | Black Falcon > in flight ◦

The largest of the Australian falcons, the Black Falcon (Falco subniger) raptor is a slim raptor, uniformly dark in appearance from dark brown to black. It has pale throat, blueish-white bill and feet. A nomadic raptor, they are usually seen alone or in pairs.

Black Falcon (Falco subniger)
Black Falcon (Falco subniger), Kunoth Bore, Central Australia

The plumage of the Black Falcon has an overall dark brown to sooty black colour. There is also a dark stripe below the eye. The underwing feathers are two-toned, with the flight feathers being slightly paler. Some adult birds have a white chin, spots on the underwing coverts or in some instances, bars on the undertail coverts. The chicks have white down, with the juveniles usually being darker than the adults.

When in flight, their broad wings taper to a point and the long narrow tail have a squared tip, with a step at the corners. In flight they glide with slightly drooped wings. They have short feathered legs and when perched. The females are larger than males.

The falcon’s body is streamlined with a relatively long tail, with tail making up about half the length of the body. The wings are long and pointed tapering toward wing tip. The female black falcons are larger than the males.

The Black Falcon is larger than the dark phases of the Brown Falcon (Falco berigora), and has a plain tail rather than the barred tail. Another difference is the Black Falcon flies with swift powerful beats, compared to the Brown Falcon which flies with slow rowing strokes. Another raptor not to be confused with, is the Black Kite (Milvus migrans), which when in flight has fingered wings and a long forked tail.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Falconiformes
  • Family: Falconidae
  • Genus: Falco
  • Species: F. subniger
  • Binomial name: Falco subniger