The Laughing Falcon, Herpetotheres cachinnans, also called the Snake Hawk (erroneously, since it is not a hawk), is a medium-sized bird of prey in the falcon family (Falconidae), the only member of the genus Herpetotheres. This Neotropical species is a specialist snake-eater. Its common and scientific names both refer to its distinctive voice.
Its English name comes from its loud voice, as does the specific name cachinnans, Latin for "laughing aloud" or "laughing immoderately". The generic name Herpetotheres refers to its preferred food; it is Latinized Ancient Greek, derived from [h]erpeton (ἑρπετόν, "reptile") + therizein (θερίζειν, "to mow down").
Its relationships with other members of the Falconidae are unclear. Traditionally it has been placed in the subfamily Polyborinae with the caracaras and forest falcons, but the American Ornithologists' Union's North American Check-list Committee now places it in the same subfamily as the true falcons, while the South American Check-list Committee places it with the forest falcons but not the caracaras, and it has also been considered a subfamily of its own.
The Laughing Falcon is 46 to 56 cm (18 to 22 in) long and has a wingspan of 79...