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Bat Hawk - BirdForum Opus

Photo by safariranger
Woodbush Forest, Magoebaskloof, South Africa, November 2006

Includes: Asian Bat Hawk

Macheiramphus alcinus


Photo by njlarsen
Near Tzaneen, South Africa, August 2011

45 cm
A sooty brown raptor, appearing black in the field, with variable amounts of white on the throat and belly. At close quarters, white legs, eyelids and nape patches are distinctive.

Juveniles are dappled brown with more white plumage than shows on adults.


Photo © by dixonlau
Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, 5 February 2024

Generally uncommon over most of range. Resident.

Africa: west and central Ethiopia and has been recorded in Somalia.

South east Asia: Indochina, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Malay Peninsula, Brunei, Singapore, Borneo, Indonesia, Greater Sundas, Sumatra, Sulawesi
Australasia: New Guinea, Melanesia


Reference [5] notes that African and Asian forms may be split, leaving the latter as "Asian Bat Hawk"


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

  • M. a. anderssoni: Africa south of the Sahara and Madagascar. From Senegal and Gambia east to southern Uganda and southern Kenya and south to northern Namibia in the west and Natal in the east.
  • M. a. alcinus: Southern Myanmar to Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and Sulawesi
  • M. a. papuanus: south-eastern New Guinea


Tropical forest and woodlands with adjacent open areas, sometimes occurs close to towns.


Crepuscular and nocturnal, roosting in thick foliage during the day.


The diet includes mainly bats, also small birds and insects. The large gape allows them to swallow small bats whole.


The nest is built from sticks and the eggs are incubated by the female for about 28 days. Both parents feed the young which fledge 30-45 days later.


  1. Clements, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Avibase
  3. Wikipedia
  4. BF Member observations
  5. Eaton, JA, B van Balen, NW Brickle, FE Rheindt 2021. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago (Greater Sundas and Wallacea), Second Edition. Lynx Editions. ISBN978-84-16728-44-2

Recommended Citation

External Links

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