Eleonora's falcon breeds later in the year than almost any other northern Hemisphere bird (5) (9), a behaviour that is linked to the species' other unusual feature, its seasonal switch in diet. For most of the year, Eleonora's falcon feeds mainly on large flying insects, such as butterflies, beetles, locusts, dragonflies, and flying ants and termites, with prey usually caught and eaten in flight. However, during the breeding season the diet switches to small migrant birds, passing on the autumn migration from Europe to Africa (2) (5) (8) (9). Breeding late in the year allows Eleonora's falcon to raise its chicks on this seasonal glut of food (5) (9). Birds are caught in the air, with hunting usually taking place over the sea, where a number of falcons may hover, forming a 'barrier' to intercept passing prey (2) (5) (8). Eleonora's falcon arrives in its breeding areas in late April to May, and typically nests in colonies of around 10 to 300 breeding pairs (2) (8). The nest is located in a hole or ledge on a cliff, or on the ground, under a bush or crevice (2). Between one and four eggs are laid, between July and August (2) (5) (8), and hatch after an incubation period of 28 to 30 days. The female performs most of the incubation and guards the chicks during the first few weeks, while the male carries out most of the hunting, bringing food back to the nest (2) (5). Fledging occurs after around 37 to 40 days, the young Eleonora's falcons leaving the colony around two weeks later (2) (8), and reaching sexual maturity at two to three years old (2). Eleonora's falcon leaves its breeding areas from October to November, its arrival in the winter quarters then coinciding with the rainy season, when insect prey is abundant (2).
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