The Amur falcon feeds mainly on insects, including locusts, grasshoppers, beetles, and flying termites. Small birds and some amphibians may also be taken. Hunting may take place throughout the day (7), with prey usually caught and eaten in flight, or taken from the ground. The Amur falcon typically hovers while searching for prey (2) (5) (7). A social bird, the Amur falcon is usually found in flocks, sometimes numbering into the hundreds or even thousands, and often associates with other small falcon species such as the red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus) and the lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) (2) (3) (9). The congregation of thousands to tens of thousands of falcons at their communal roosting sites in southern Africa (7) is said to be one of the most spectacular bird of prey phenomena in the world (10). Most nesting, however, is solitary, or in small colonies (2) (3). The nest may be built in a tree hole, or the breeding pair may take over an old nest of a corvid. Three to four eggs are laid (sometimes up to six), usually between May and June, and hatch after an incubation period of around 28 to 30 days. Both the male and female help incubate and feed the chicks, which fledge after about a month. The Amur falcon may reach sexual maturity in its first year (2).
As well as being one of the longest, the Amur falcon’s annual round-trip of 22,000 kilometres is also likely to be the most oceanic migration of any bird of prey, with over 3,000 kilometres of the outbound journey to Africa believed to take place over the Indian Ocean (6). The entire population of Amur falcons leaves the breeding area in Asia from late August to September, generally travelling in huge flocks, which may also include other small falcon species. The birds stop off in India and Bangladesh for several weeks to fatten up (2) (3) (6) (11). However, the exact migration path is not well understood, and the ocean journey is still speculation, the birds disappearing from India and reappearing in East Africa, and so presumed to fly over the sea (7). Interestingly, the return journey from Africa to Asia, which takes place between February and March, is even less well understood, and is thought to take place overland via the Arabian Peninsula (6) (11), with the birds arriving back in the breeding grounds in April and early May (2).