AppearanceThe bat hawk is a slender, medium-sized bird of prey, usually about 45 cm long. It has long wings and a falcon-like silhouette. Adults are dark brown or black, with a white patch on the throat and chest, and have a white streak above and below each eye. Juveniles are mottled brown and have more white plumage than adults.
NamingThe genus name is from Greek: ''makhaira'' meaning knife; and ''rhamphos'', bill. The specific epithet ''alcinus'' means like an auk, from Linnaeus' genus ''Alca'', which is also a reference to the bat hawk's thin bill.
StatusDue to its large range and relatively stable population, the bat hawk is of least concern.
ReproductionCourtship involves many aerial displays and stunts. The nest is built with sticks gathered in flight, and is about 90 cm across and 30 cm deep. The female is solely responsible for incubating her clutch. The male often shares food with her. About a month after incubation begins, the eggs hatch, and both parents help to feed their young. 30–45 days after hatching, the young fledge. They leave the nest soon after.
Bat hawks breed most years.
FoodBats are the usual prey of the bat hawk, although they may eat small birds, such as swallows, swifts, and nightjars, or even insects. They hunt by chasing their prey at high speeds in flight. About 49% of their hunts are successful.
The bat hawk is crepuscular and hunts at dusk.
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