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 )
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
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
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).
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)
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.
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.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and 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
We do not have information on the lifespan of Falco biarmicus at this time.
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)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Falco biarmicus
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.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Falco biarmicus
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
It is estimated that fewer than 1400 breeding pairs of Falco biarmicus exist in the world. Although not listed on the IUCN Red list, it is classified in Appendix II by CITES and is considered endangered at the European level. The population of F. biarmicus has decreased severely in the last fifty years due to destruction and loss of habitat, as well as human persecution (hunting, theft of eggs, and disturbance of nesting sites).
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2012Least Concern
Status in Egypt
Resident breeder, winter visitor and regular passage visitor?
In the mid-20th century the species underwent severe declines in Europe and Israel, driven by poisoning, shooting and trapping for falconry (del Hoyo et al. 1994). These have subsided, though persecution and the collection of eggs and chicks for falconry still probably constitute the most serious threats to the species, and in Italy it is still threatened by illegal shooting (Snow and Perrins 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Local declines in southern Africa have possibly been associated with seed dressings, and whilst the overall effects of pesticides are unknown they have been shown to have negative impacts locally (del Hoyo et al. 1994). It is also vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development (Strix 2012).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Falco biarmicus does not usually affect humans in any way. However, when it inhabits agricultural areas, F. biarmicus frequently hunts domesticated fowl and poultry, typically chickens and ducks. This, unfortunately, prompts farmers to persecute F. biarmicus in order to protect their livestock.
Falco biarmicus is popular in the sport of falconry, and young birds and eggs are often taken from their natural habitat by humans. Over the past decade the numbers of breeding pairs of F. biarmicus have severely declined due to the harvesting of eggs by humans.
Positive Impacts: pet trade
The lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus) is a medium-sized bird of prey that breeds in Africa, southeast Europe and just into Asia. It is mainly resident, but some birds disperse more widely after the breeding season.
It is a large falcon, at 43–50 cm length with a wingspan of 95–105 cm. European lanner falcons (Falco biarmicus feldeggi, also called Feldegg's falcon) have slate grey or brown-grey upperparts; most African subspecies are a paler blue grey above. The breast is streaked in northern birds, resembling greyish saker falcons, but the lanner has a reddish back to the head. Sexes are similar, but the browner young birds resemble saker falcons even more. However, sakers have a lighter top of the head and less clear head-side patterns. The lanner's call is a harsh "wray-e".
Taxonomy and systematics
The lanner falcon is a bird of open country and savanna. It usually hunts by horizontal pursuit, rather than the peregrine falcon's stoop from a height, and takes mainly bird prey in flight. It lays three to four eggs on a cliff ledge nest, or occasionally in an old stick nest in a tree.
This is presumably the oldest living hierofalcon species. Support for this assumption comes mainly from biogeography agreeing better with the confusing pattern of DNA sequence data in this case than in others. Nonetheless, there is rampant hybridization (see also perilanner) and incomplete lineage sorting which confounds the data to a massive extent; molecular studies with small sample sizes can simply not be expected to yield reliable conclusions in the entire hierofalcon group. In any case, the radiation of the entire living diversity of hierofalcons seems to have taken place in the Eemian interglacial at the start of the Late Pleistocene, a mere 130,000–115,000 years ago; the lanner falcons would thus represent the lineage that became isolated in sub-Saharan Africa at some time during the Riss glaciation (200,000 to 130,000 years ago) already.
They are bred in captivity for falconry; hybrids with the peregrine ("perilanners") are also often seen. Merret (1666) claimed that the "lanar" lived in Sherwood Forest and the Forest of Dean in England; such populations would seem to have derived from escaped hunting birds of the nobility.
In the wild lanner falcon numbers are somewhat declining in Europe, though the species remains relatively common in parts of Africa.
Painting by John Gerrard Keulemans (1884)
Juvenile, probably F. b. feldeggi. Note blue facial skin and overall similarity to saker falcon.
A gyrfalcon's head showing the "twice-armed" falcon bill (number 2).
- BirdLife International (2013). "Falco biarmicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Possibly 1841 (Sharpe 1874: 389), or 1844 (Strickland 1855: 80).
- Etymology: Falco, Latin for a falcon. biarmicus, Latin for "being twice armed", in reference to the additional sharp points behind the billtip. These are typical of falcons in general however, not just this species.
- Helbig et al. (1994), Wink et al. (1998), Wink et al. (2004), Nittinger et al. (2005)
- Leonardi, Giovanni (1999). "Cooperative Hunting of Jackdaws by the Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)". Journal of Raptor Research 33 (2): 123–27.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Falco biarmicus.|
- Helbig, A.J.; Seibold, I.; Bednarek, W.; Brüning, H.; Gaucher, P.; Ristow, D.; Scharlau, W.; Schmidl, D. & Wink, Michael (1994): Phylogenetic relationships among falcon species (genus Falco) according to DNA sequence variation of the cytochrome b gene. In: Meyburg, B.-U. & Chancellor, R.D. (eds.): Raptor conservation today: 593–599.
- Merret, Christopher (1666): Pinax rerum naturalium Britannicarum continens vegetabilia, animalia et fossilia, in hac insulā repperta inchoatus Pulleyn and F. & T. Warren, London.
- Nittinger, F.; Haring, E.; Pinsker, W.; Wink, Michael & Gamauf, A. (2005). "Out of Africa? Phylogenetic relationships between Falco biarmicus and other hierofalcons (Aves Falconidae)". Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 43 (4): 321–331. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0469.2005.00326.x.
- Sharpe, Richard Bowdler (1874): Catalogue of the birds in the British Museum 1. British Museum (Natural History), London.
- Strickland, Hugh Edwin (1855): Ornithological Synonyms. J. Van Voorst, London.
- Wink, Michael; Seibold, I.; Lotfikhah, F. & Bednarek, W. (1998): Molecular systematics of holarctic raptors (Order Falconiformes). In: Chancellor, R.D., Meyburg, B.-U. & Ferrero, J.J. (eds.): Holarctic Birds of Prey: 29–48. Adenex & WWGBP.
- Wink, Michael; Sauer-Gürth, Hedi; Ellis, David & Kenward, Robert (2004): Phylogenetic relationships in the Hierofalco complex (Saker-, Gyr-, Lanner-, Laggar Falcon). In: Chancellor, R.D. & Meyburg, B.-U. (eds.): Raptors Worldwide: 499–504. WWGBP, Berlin.