On a weekend trip to Wuyuan, I went out in search of the Pied falconet.
The first time I saw one was with a friend at rainforest birding time the year before on the nearby Yunnan-Burma border. It was around noon, and most of the birds tend to hide in the bushes around that time of day. We went back and forth more than 10 km when exhaustion started to hit, and we wanted to find a place to nap. Bo was still wandering around aimlessly with his scope – this guy, he doesn’t know the meaning of the word tired! He finally got bored and tried a bird call. There it was! The Pied falconet!
We were both exhausted, but suddenly we felt a wave of excitement! Nearly a thousand meters away across the hills on the withered tree, perched, were two naive little black-and-white birds. Soon, one after another, they were flying and playing. They were so cute, like a panda!
Finally we found a gap and were able to take a photo. Unfortunately, the distance was too far to see the details of the small falcons. After a while of repositioning we were able to get some good shots.
Since then, we had always hoped to see them again. But two years and three provinces of bird watching later we hadn’t.
Unexpectedly, Jiangxi near Guangzhou also has some of these magnificent birds. So, one weekend on the Wuyuan line we finally got our wish and finally saw this cute little falconet up close.
Pied falconet is very small, not much bigger than the Light-vented Bubul (pycnonotus sinensis). It feels strange to categorize it with other „Raptors.“ However, it really is a bird of prey, whether you look at its physical structure, habits or its diet. It is perhaps the smallest bird of prey – perched on top of the dead branches of tall trees, sharp eyes searching around for bats, frogs, smaller birds, dragonflies and other insect: some of their favorite foods.
Pied falconet’s body is black-and-white. Its head, back, wings and tail are black, and its chest and legs are very clean white. When it spreads its wings and tail spots are visible. The most apparent feature of its face is a distinct black patch extending from the eye to the cheek. You see, not unlike a panda?
Bird species information:
Chinese name: Pied falconet
Scientific name: Microhieraxme lanoleucos
English name: White-legged Falconet
Location: Jiangxi Wuyuan
Recording time: June 2014