The fact that female sakers, being larger, are preferred by falconers has led to a gender imbalance in wild populations, with males outnumbering females. In fact, about 90 percent of the almost 2,000 falcons trapped each year during the fall migration are females. These numbers cannot be reported with absolute certainty, because some sakers are illegally trapped and exported, especially in Mongolia, so it is impossible to know the true number of sakers taken from the wild each year. Juveniles are easier to train than adults, so most of the trapped sakers are around one year old. In addition, in the Middle East many falconers release their sakers because it is difficult to care for them during the hot summer months, and many trained birds escape. Basically, the number of sakers taken each year probably does not have a significant impact on the species, but the preference for female sakers does. In addition, sakers are affected by the use of pesticides (which contaminate their prey) and destruction of their habitat. A fairly recent estimate of the saker population in the wild is from 1982, when the population stood at about 100,000 pairs. That does not include juveniles, captive birds that may have later been released back into the wild, or pairs that ornithologists may have missed, so the estimate is probably on the low side. However, saker falcons an endangered.
US Migratory Bird Act: no special status
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
- Batdelgar, D., A. Parrot. 1998. The Illegal Export of Saker Falcons (Falco cherrug) in Mongolia. 5th World Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls: 64.
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