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Laughing Falcon - BirdForum Opus

Herpetotheres cachinnans
Photo © by Reini
N, road Costa Rica, February 2005


  • Buff head
  • Black mask
  • White bordered collar
  • Black shaft-streaks on crown
  • Dark brown wings and tail
  • White or buff upper tail coverts
  • Tail is narrowly barred black and white, with white tips
  • In flight, one will notice the light area across the base of the primaries
  • Dark brown eyes
  • Black bill
  • Cere and feet are straw-coloured


Central and South America: breeds in Mexico from Sinaloa (rarely Sonora) and Tamaulipas southwards and through Central America to Panama.

In South America from Colombia, Venezuela and the Guianas south to eastern Peru, north and east Bolivia, Paraguay and north-east Argentina.

A resident species.

Photo © by NJLarsen
Near Palenque, Mexico, January 2000


This is a rather non-typical member of the Falconidae, the family which includes falcons and caracaras.


Two subspecies are recognized[1].

  • H. c. cachinnans:
  • Lowlands of northern Mexico (south from southern Sonora and San Luis Potosí) south through Central America to northeastern Panama and from northern Colombia and the Guianas, east of the Andes, south to eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, northeastern Argentina, and southern and eastern Brazil
  • H. c. fulvescens:
  • Extreme eastern Panama (Darién) and west of the Andes south to northwestern Peru (south to Lambayeque)

Additional subspecies chapmani and queribundus are generally considered invalid.


Open forest and forest edge, llanos and cultivated land. In more arid areas, occurs in thorny scrub.



Diet includes snakes.


No nest is made. Eggs may be laid in old nests of other birds or it nests in cavities in trees. The single egg is white or pale buff, marked with chocolate brown.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. carnivoraforum
  4. Birdforum Member observations

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