A Bat Falcon has been spotted in the United states for the first time in recorded history, and the bird of prey made its appearance in the great State of Texas.

Bat Falcons are not rare, they just haven’t been seen in our country before. They live across much of the rest of the Americas, with their range extending through the warmer tropical forests of Central and South America and the Caribbean, according to a Facebook post from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

This particular Bat Falcon was spotted on December 27, 2021 at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Alamo, Texas, right near the southern border.

The man who captured the above photos, Peter Witt, told KSAT, he went to the refuge specifically to see the bird. “My wife Joy Nies and I saw the Bat Falcon at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge on February 9,” Witt said. “We knew it was the Bat Falcon when we spotted it since we had seen pictures taken by others and read about the bird online.”

Images of the Bat Falcon taken by Witt were later confirmed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Witt’s photos showed the Bat Falcon with its distinguishable orange, white and black plumage on a tree at the Santa Ana Bird Sanctuary in southern Texas.

“It sometimes appears in the mornings on top of a telephone pole at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge entrance, but the day we went it wasn’t there, so we hiked in about 2.5 miles to Cattail Lakes, where people said he also hung out on some days,” Witt said.

“We could see him fly off from a tree shag perch, skim the lake, grab an insect and return to chow down, then rest a bit and repat. We watched for about 20 minutes and it was a wonderful and unique experience,” Witt added.

Even though the bird was spotted in December, it didn’t start making headlines until the USFWS shared Witt’s photos on social media.

Bat Falcons typically grow up to 11 inches and weigh between 4.8 and 8.5 ounces. Rodents, insects and, as their name suggest, bats, as well as smaller birds make up a large proportion of their diet.
Bat Falcons are considered a species of ‘Least Concern’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which estimates there are between 500,000 and five million of the birds in the wild. However, the IUCN said that the number of Bat Falcons in the wild is thought to be decreasing amid habitat loss.

The Peregrine Fund conservation group said that the destruction of forests in Central and South America, where Bat Falcons typically live, threatens the birds by depriving them of prey. Pesticide use was also cited as a present danger.

A Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson said in a Facebook post, “We do not know why the bird had come to the United States, but their range definitely seems to be expanding.”

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