The African Pygmy-falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus) is a falcon that lives in eastern and southern Africa, the smallest raptor of the continent. As a small falcon, only 19 to 20 cm long, it preys on insects, small reptiles and even small mammals.
Adult African Pygmy-falcons are white below and on the face, grey above, the female having a chestnut back. There are white “eye spots” on the nape. Juveniles have a brown back, duller than adult females, and a rufous wash on the breast. The flight feathers of the wings are spotted black and white (more black above, more white below); the tail is barred black and white.
The flight is low and undulating. In size, pattern, and the habit of perching upright on an exposed branch or treetop, this species resembles some shrikes.
The call is “a high-pitched kikiKIK, repeated” (Kenya) or “a ‘chip-chip’ and a ‘kik-kik-kik-kik’” (southern Africa).
The African Pygmy-falcon inhabits dry bush. The subspecies P. s. castanonotus occurs from Sudan to Somalia and south to Uganda and Tanzania; P. s. semitorquatus occurs from Angola to northern South Africa. This range is estimated to have an area of 2.7 million km2, and the total population is estimated to be between 100,000 and 1 million birds.