Herpetotheres cachinnans Linnaeus, 1758, Surinam. Three subspecies usually recognized.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Macagua rieur; German: Lachfalke; Spanish: Halcуn Reidor.
17.7–20.9 in (45–53 cm); male 1.2–1.5 lb (565–690 g), female 1.4–1.8 lb (625–800 g). A distinctively patterned, large-headed, black-masked falconid unlike any other, with short wings and long tail. Head and underparts cinnamon-buff to white, with a wide black mask from eyes to hindneck. Upperparts blackbrown. Stout legs and short toes. Juvenile has dark feathers edged rufous or buff. Races vary in size and color.
Central and South America, from Mexico to Paraguay and northern Argentina.
Tropical and subtropical forest, near openings, tracks, or edge, and open forest. Mainly in lowlands.
Has very large home range for its size, estimated at 6,200 acres (2,500 ha) in continuous forest, less in more disturbed habitats. Thought to be sedentary.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Feeds almost exclusively on snakes that are terrestrial and arboreal, venomous and harmless. Occasionally takes birds and bats and, in disturbed areas, reptiles, rodents, and fish. Hunts from a perch where it sits in wait for long periods with head slightly bowed.
Nests as solitary pair that duets (“laughs”) near nest at dawn and dusk. Lays single dark brown egg in trees or cliff cavities, stick nests of another species, or on epiphytes. Nestlings fledge at about eight weeks and stay with parent for some months.
Not threatened. Uncommon or fairly common throughout much of their extensive range.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Of traditional significance to local Indians.
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