Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The lanner falcon feeds mainly on small to medium-sized birds, ranging from larks up to the size of ducks and guineafowl, and sometimes takes domestic poultry and even other falcons (2) (3) (9). Hunting often takes place where prey congregates, such as at waterholes or colonial nesting sites, or at grass fires, where up to 20 lanner falcons may gather to feed (2) (3). Small mammals, such as rodents and bats, may also be taken, along with insects, reptiles, occasionally carrion, and even spiders and scorpions in deserts (2) (3) (10). The lanner falcon usually, though not always, hunts during the day, chasing or seizing prey in the air or sometimes from the ground, and occasionally stealing food from other birds of prey (2) (3) (5). Food is sometimes cached to be eaten later (2) (3), and lanner falcon pairs often hunt co-operatively, with one bird flushing out prey for the other to catch (3) (11) (12). Some lanner falcons have even learned to follow human hunters, taking prey that they flush (2) (3). The breeding season of the lanner falcon varies with location (2) (3). Breeding pairs perform acrobatic aerial displays during courtship (3) (5), and build nests on cliffs or rocky outcrops, in quarries, on buildings or on the ground, or use the abandoned nests of other large birds, often in a tree or on top of an electricity pylon (2) (3) (12). The female lays between two and five eggs, which are incubated for 30 to 35 days. The young fledge at around 35 to 47 days but are dependent on the adult birds for up to a further three months (2) (3). Lanner falcons are thought to breed from about two to three years old (3).
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Description

The lanner falcon is a handsome and powerful bird of prey, with grey-brown to slaty upperparts, a creamy-white throat and underparts, sometimes with dark spots or striping, and a characteristic reddish-brown crown on the head, which helps to distinguish it from the smaller peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus (3) (5) (6). The white cheeks contrast with dark eye stripes and a long, dark 'moustache' below the eye, and the eye ring is bright yellow (3) (5). The body is quite slender, with a long, barred tail and long, relatively blunt-ended wings that are dark at the tips (3). The female lanner falcon is usually larger, darker and more patterned than the male, while juveniles are much browner in colour, with heavily streaked underparts, pale blue-grey facial skin, and a duller crown (2) (3) (5). The lanner falcon shows considerable regional variation in size, colouration and degree of spotting and barring, with five subspecies currently recognised (2) (3) (7). The species is usually fairly silent, but at its breeding sites may give a variety of screams and cackling calls (3) (5) (6).
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Distribution

Falco biarmicus is found as far north as the central/eastern Mediterranean region, extending south throughout most of Africa. Primarily a sedentary species, F. biarmicus does not migrate, though extensive wandering is frequently observed in Africa, especially in juveniles and non-breeding adults. In fact, ringed individuals have been recovered as far as 1528 km from their breeding territory. Lanner falcons are also known to move according to weather patterns, they move into desert areas after rain and out of forested areas during mist/heavy rain.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); ethiopian (Native )

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Range

The lanner falcon has a wide distribution across Africa, the Middle East, and parts of central and eastern Mediterranean (3) (8). F. b. biarmicus occurs from Angola across southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and southern Kenya, and southwards to South Africa. F. b. erlangeri occurs in northwest Africa, including Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya. F. b. abyssinicus is found in tropical sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal east to Ethiopia and Somalia, and south to Uganda, Kenya and northern Democratic Republic of the Congo. F. b. tanypterus occurs in northeast Africa, including Egypt, eastern Libya and northern Sudan, and into the Middle East, including Arabia, Israel and Iraq, and F. b. feldeggii is found in Italy, east to Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and south to Lebanon (2) (3). Although usually a resident species, the lanner falcon may make local migrations in some parts of its range, particularly in West Africa, possibly in relation to rainfall (2) (3).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Falco biarmicus is a medium-sized falcon, ranging from 35 to 50 cm long with a wingspan of 90 to 110 cm. The females are heavier, weighing from 700 to 900 g, whereas the males typically weigh from 500 to 600 g. The backs of adult lanner falcons are slate gray, juveniles are brown; both adults and juveniles have off-white or reddish-brown undersides streaked with gray. Northern subspecies have undersides spotted with black; southern subspecies lack spotted undersides. The head is reddish-brown or white with a black 'moustach' stripe. Females typically have darker coloration than males.

Range mass: 500 to 900 g.

Range length: 35 to 50 cm.

Range wingspan: 90 to 110 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology

Behaviour Most birds are resident although some migrate locally in West Africa, and nomadism is recorded in the east and south-west of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Flight is often low over the ground (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Birds are usually recorded singly or in pairs, but are known gather in groups of up to 20 at concentrated feeding sites (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The species is often crepuscular and possibly even nocturnal (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Habitat It inhabits a wide variety of habitats, from lowland deserts to forested mountains, and is recorded up to 5,000 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet Small birds make up most of its diet, particularly quails, pigeons and doves (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site Birds usually use the abandoned nests of other raptors, corvids or herons on trees and pylons (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information In Africa the species has been shown to benefit from bush clearance and higher populations of free-range poultry, which it hunts (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Falco biarmicus is found in habitats varying from flat, dry areas near sea level to wet, forested mountains as high as 5000 m. Lanner falcons require large open or lightly wooded hunting areas, as well as rocky formations such as cliffs for nesting. However, F. biarmicus is also known to nest in trees and abandoned structures, as well as near the ground in desert areas.

Range elevation: 50 to 5000 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains

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Usually inhabiting open country, the lanner falcon can be found in a wide range of habitats ranging from extreme desert to wet, forested mountains up to elevations of 5,000 metres (2) (3) (5). The species can be found in eucalyptus stands in southern Africa and even in urban areas, as long as there are open or lightly wooded areas nearby for hunting (2) (3), though it tends to avoid heavily forested or very wet areas (3).
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Trophic Strategy

Lanner falcons are carnivores. They feed on a variety of terrestrial and flying prey. Their main food sources are smaller birds, especially quails and columbids. Falco biarmicus also feeds on lizards, rodents, and bats, as well as spiders and scorpions in desert areas. If competition for these food resources is high, or locusts and other flying insects are swarming, F. biarmicus will also gorge itself on insects.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

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Associations

Limited information is available about the role of this species in its ecosystem . Falco biarmicus> shares a niche with many other raptors, and competition between lanner falcons and peregrin falcons is high. Both feed primarily on small birds, however, F. biarmicus is able to adjust its diet accordingly if competition for this resource is too high. Lanner falcons are likely hosts to mites that commonly infest other birds; apart from this relationship, the main role of lanner falcons in an ecosystem is that of predators at the top of the food web.

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There are no known predators of adult Falco biarmicus, and the species thrives in any area where it is left alone by humans. However, F. biarmicus eggs are vulnerable to scavengers that feed on them, as well as humans who rob nests for the pet/falconry industry.

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Known prey organisms

Falco biarmicus preys on:
Arthropoda
Insecta
Reptilia
Aves
Mammalia
Tyto alba
Muscardinus avellanarius

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Like all raptors, Falco biarmicus relies mostly on its keen sense of sight to hunt prey both in the air and on the ground. It has a variety of calls for different situations and communicates with other individuals acoustically, especially in territorial disputes and courtship rituals. It is known for its loud, repeated "kak-kak" call.

Communication Channels: acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

We do not have information on the lifespan of Falco biarmicus at this time.

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Reproduction

Relatively little information is available about the mating system of Falco biarmicus. Falco biarmicus is monogamous; both males and females engage in elaborate flying and loud crying as part of the courtship display.

Mating System: monogamous

The breeding season for Falcon biarmicus varies significantly throughout its range. In southern Europe and northern Africa, the laying period is February through May. In the Sahara, western and northeastern Africa, the laying period is from January through March. In east, central and south Africa, the laying period is from June through November. Nesting habitat also varies; typical sites include abandoned raptor or heron nests, in trees, cliff faces, on the ground (desert areas) and buildings. A brood typically includes 3 to 4 eggs with an incubation period of around 32 days, fledging occurs in 35 to 47 days.

Breeding season: Breeding season varies significantly throughout the range.

Range eggs per season: 3 to 4.

Average time to hatching: 32 days.

Range fledging age: 35 to 47 days.

Average time to independence: 3 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous

There is little information about parental investment in Falco biarmicus. Eggs are incubated for around 32 days, and chicks fledge in 35 to 47 days. The male hunts alone early on, but the female assists in hunting later in the nesting season and during the fledgling period. Both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Falco biarmicus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.

Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

CCTATACCTACTCTTCGGAGCATGAGCAGGCATAGTCGGCACTGCCCTTAGCCTCCTTATTCGAACAGAACTTGGCCAACCAGGGACTCTCCTAGGAGATGACCAAATCTACAATGTCATTGTCACCGCCCATGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTTTTCATAGTCATACCCATTATGATCGGAGGGTTTGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTTATAATTGGAGCTCCAGACATAGCATTCCCCCGCATAAACAACATGAGTTTCTGACTGCTCCCCCCATCCTTTCTACTACTCCTAGCATCTTCCACAGTAGAAGCGGGAGTTGGAACAGGATGAACCGTATACCCCCCCTTAGCAGGCAACCTAGCCCATGCCGGTGCTTCAGTAGACCTCGCCATTTTCTCCCTACACCTTGCAGGTGTATCTTCCATCTTAGGGGCAATCAACTTTATCACAACAGCCATTAACATAAAACCACCCGCCCTATCACAATATCAAACCCCACTATTCGTATGATCCGTACTTATCACCGCCGTACTCCTGCTTCTCTCACTTCCAGTTCTAGCTGCTGGCATCACCATACTACTAACCGACCGAAACCTAAACACTACATTCTTCGACCCCGCCGGAGGANGAGACCCCATTCTCTATCAACACTTATTCTGATTCTTTGGCCACCCAGAAGTCNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Falco biarmicus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2015

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over 10 years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in 10 years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • 2013
    Least Concern (LC)
  • 2012
    Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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