Chilling In The Desert?

African Birdlife|May - June 2020

Chilling In The Desert?
Pygmy Falcons Polihierax semi-torquatus are among the world’s smallest raptors.
Andrew McKechnie

An ornithological highlight of any visit to the Kalahari, these charming little birds roost in the vast communal nests of Sociable Weavers Philetairus socius and have been the subject of a longstanding mystery among desert ornithologists. During the 1980s in the then Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, Colin Sapsford measured the body temperatures of Pygmy Falcons he carefully removed from their roost chambers before sunrise on cold winter mornings. The falcons’ body temperature was just 31 degrees Celsius, substantially lower than typical avian night-time values.


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May - June 2020