Lizard Buzzard, Kaupifalco monogrammicus

2009 July 10
by David J. Ringer

NAIROBI, KENYA — Standing out on the patio this evening, I was watching sunbirds and bee-eaters when a small hawk zipped in and landed in the neighbor’s tree. I got some marginal photos through the limbs — lucky thing, too, because African raptors confuse the daylights out of me. (Stevenson and Fanshawe’s Birds of East Africa includes over 40 pages on diurnal raptors!)

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This photo captured an important field mark: a pale throat with a dark central streak. That (among other things of course) makes this a Lizard Buzzard, Kaupifalco monogrammicus. The Gabar Goshawk is similarly sized and very similarly patterned, but it lacks this throat pattern and has a proportionally longer, differently marked tail.

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The bird sat quietly for several minutes while I admired its snazzy appearance. I thought initially that it looked like an Accipiter species, but the proportions were off. In fact, the Lizard Buzzard is in a genus by itself but does belong to a clade containing the accipiters, the harriers, and a handful of other species including the chanting goshawks. Apparently it hunts reptiles and insects by dropping on them from a perch (more info).

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One Response
  1. July 11, 2009

    Cool! The niche and body shape reminds me a great deal of Laughing Falcon in the neotropics, another lone genus-ed raptor.

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