Articles on this page are available in 1 other language: Chinese (Simplified) (1) (learn more)

Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

As the breeding season commences in spring, males begin to perform spectacular aerial displays as a form of courtship ritual to attract females, calling loudly as they soar over their territories. Saker falcons are generally two to three years old before they begin to breed, after which one brood of two to six eggs will be produced annually by the female. Chicks are able to fly after 45 to 50 days, but remain dependant on their parents for food for at least another 30 to 45 days, during which time they stay within the nesting territory (2) (7). The saker falcon can be both highly agile and extremely fast as it hunts close to the ground (6), capable of diving for prey at 200 miles per hour (4). Prey consists largely of mid-sized mammals such as ground squirrels, voles, gerbils, jerboas, stoats and hares (2) (4) (7). At other times, and particularly near water, ground-dwelling and aerial birds such as pheasants, oriental honey-buzzards, quail, ducks, owls, thrushes, larks and songbirds form a significant proportion of the diet (2) (6) (7). The saker falcon is a ferocious hunter and frequently attacks prey larger than itself (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Description

A great favourite with falconers, the saker falcon is a large, powerful bird of prey with an exceptionally broad wingspan for its size (4). Like other falcons, this bird is equipped with sharp, curved talons for grasping prey, while the strong, hooked beak is used to tear its victim's flesh (2). Great variation in colour and pattern exist, ranging from a fairly uniform chocolate brown colour to a pale sandy colour with brown bars or streaks, to almost pure white individuals, which are particularly prized by Arab falconers (2) (5). Female saker falcons are markedly larger than males (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

Range Description

Falco cherrug occurs in a wide range across the Palearctic region from eastern Europe to western China, breeding in Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia & Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, Russian Federation, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China, and at least formerly in Turkmenistan and probably Afghanistan, possibly India (Ladakh), with wintering or passage populations regularly in Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, U.A.E., Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, with much smaller numbers or vagrants reaching many other countries (Baumgart 1991, 1994, Snow and Perrins 1998, Haines 2002, ERWDA 2003). The historical and present global population size remains subject to considerable uncertainty; however, a revised analysis of available data has resulted in a global population estimate of c.17,400-28,800 breeding pairs (median c.22,100) in 1990, incorporating estimates for the most important range states as given by Moshkin (2010), with the largest numbers in China (3,000-7,000 pairs, median 5,000), Kazakhstan (4,808-5,628 pairs, median 5,218), Mongolia (2,792-6,980 pairs, median 3,884) and Russia (5,700-7,300 pairs, median 6,500), in addition to collated estimates for other countries (Haines 2002, Dixon 2007, 2009). A total population of c.6,400-15,400 pairs (median c.10,900) is calculated for 2010, including the most important range states of China (1,000-5,000 pairs, median 3,000 [A. Dixon in litt. 2012]), Kazakhstan (800-1,450 in 2011; median 1,125 pairs [A. Dixon and A. Levin in litt. 2012]), Mongolia (2,000-5,000 pairs, median 3,500 [Dixon 2009]) and Russia (1,854-2,542 in 2007, median 2,198 [Karyakin 2008]), and collated estimates for other countries (Haines 2002, Dixon 2007, 2009). The populations in Europe, and probably in Mongolia, are now increasing (A. Dixon in litt. 2012), but the overall population trend is estimated to be negative. Assuming a generation length of 6.4 years and that the decline in the species's population had already begun (at least in some areas) prior to the 1990s (consumption in the Middle East was heavy by the mid-1980s), the overall population trend during the 19-year period 1993-2012 equates to a 47% decline (based on median estimates), with a minimum-maximum decline of 2-75%. Given considerable uncertainty over the population estimates used, the species is precautionarily estimated to be declining by at least 50% over three generations.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Geographic Range

Saker falcons (often simply called “sakers”) occur in the semi-desert and forest regions from Eastern Europe to central Asia, where they are the dominant “desert falcon.” Saker falcons migrate as far as northern parts of southern Asia and parts of Africa for the winter. Recently (in 1997), sakers have been observed breeding as far west as Germany.

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

  • Cade, T. 1982. The Falcons of the World. London: Cornell University Press.
  • Baumgart, W. 1998. New Developments on the Western Border of the Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) range in Middle Europe. 5th World Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls: 17-18.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Range

The saker falcon is a wide-ranging species with a breeding distribution across the Palaearctic region from Eastern Europe to western China (6). After the breeding season, many populations migrate further south and spend winter in China (7), India, the Mediterranean, Middle East, and parts of Africa (2) (6).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Sakers exhibit great variation in color and pattern, ranging from a fairly uniform chocolate brown color to a cream or straw base with brown bars or streaks to brown-eyed leucistic individuals, which are especially prized by Arab falconers. In general, sakers have white or pale spots on the inner webs of their tail feathers, rather than the bars of color that are common among other desert falcons. As the underwing is usually pale, it has a translucent appearance when contrasted against the dark axillaries and primary tips.

Saker females are markedly larger than males; females typically weigh 970 to 1300 g (average 1135 g), have an average length of 55 cm, and a wingspan of 120 to 130 cm. Males usually weigh from 730 to 990 grams (average 840 g), are about 45 cm long on average, and have a wingspan of 100 to 110 cm.

As with other falcons, sakers have sharp, curved talons, used primarily for grasping prey. Sakers use their powerful, hooked beak to sever the prey’s vertebral column.

Range mass: 730 to 1300 g.

Average length: 45 cm for males, 55 cm for females cm.

Range wingspan: 100 to 130 cm.

Average wingspan: 105 cm for males, 125 cm for females cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is physically adapted to hunting close to the ground in open terrain, combining rapid acceleration with high manoeuvrability, thus specialising on mid-sized diurnal terrestrial rodents (especially ground squirrels Citellus) of open grassy landscapes such as desert edge, semi-desert, steppes and arid montane areas; in some areas, particularly near water, it switches to birds as key prey, and has recently substituted domestic pigeons for rodents in parts of Europe (Baumgart 1991, Snow and Perrins 1998). It uses copses or cliffs for nest sites (sometimes even the ground), occupying the old nests of other birds (Baumgart 1991, Snow and Perrins 1998). Clutch size varies from two to six, with means from 3.2-3.9 in different circumstances (Baumgart 1991, Snow and Perrins 1998). Breeding success varies with year (especially in areas where rodents cycle) (Baumgart 1991, Snow and Perrins 1998). The species usually occurs singly or in pairs (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Birds are sedentary, part-migratory or fully migratory, largely depending on the extent to which food supply in breeding areas disappears in winter (Baumgart 1991, Snow and Perrins 1998). Migrant birds winter in East Africa, southern Europe and southern Asia, and generally leave their breeding grounds in September and October, returning between February and May (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Sakers occupy stick nests in trees, about 15 to 20 meters above the ground, in parklands and open forests at the edge of the tree line. No one has ever observed a saker falcon building its own stick nest; they generally occupy abandoned nests of other bird species, and sometimes even drive owners from an occupied nest. In the more rugged areas of their range, sakers have been known to use nests on cliff ledges, about 8 to 50 meters above the base.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra ; taiga ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains

  • Anderson, S., J. Squires. 1997. The Praire Falcon (Section 3-Prairie Falcons and Other Raptors). Austin: University of Texas Press.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

The saker falcon prefers open terrain for hunting, such as forest steppe, desert steppe and arid montane areas (6). Nesting usually occurs in old abandoned nests of other birds situated on the ground, on cliffs, rocks, sandy precipices or trees, as well as on artificial structures such as poles, pylons and abandoned buildings (6) (7).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

During the breeding season, small mammals such as ground squirrels, hamsters, jerboas, gerbils, hares, and pikas may constitute 60 to 90% of a saker pair’s diet. At other times, ground-dwelling birds such as quail, sandgrouse, pheasants, and more aerial birds such as ducks, herons, and even other raptors (owls, kestrels, and harriers) can account for 30 to 50% of all prey, especially in more forested areas. Sakers may also eat large lizards.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; insects

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Sakers are important predators of small mammals and medium-sized birds.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Predation

Sakers have no known predators in the wild, except humans.

Known Predators:

  • Humans

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

As mentioned before, a female saker will make a “chip” noise to prompt her young to open their beaks for food, and they will chirp to get a parent’s attention. Male sakers call during their aerial displays in order to attract or impress a female, and if the female accepts the male, she may join in the calling at the end. Sakers may often call aggressively to drive off intruders from the nest or a freshly killed meal.

Sakers, like other falcons, communicate fairly often by posturing. The most aggressive display is the Upright Threat; the bird stands up straight, spreads its wings and fluffs out its facial feathers, hisses, cackles, and strikes with the feet. This display is used by adult falcons in defense of the young, and by feathered nestlings against nest intruders. Sakers also use bowing to appease a mate, and communicate submission with a modified version of bowing, in which the beak is pointed to the side.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: duets

Perception Channels: ultraviolet

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Falcons used for hunting are still subject to many of the same causes of mortality as those in the wild, including several bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, bumblefoot disease, lead and ammonium chloride poisoning, and injuries incurred from impacting or struggling with prey, to name a few.

Although most wild individuals are expected to live from 5 to 7 years, a few of these birds have been known to live for as long as 10 years. Captive animals tend to live longer than their wild counterparts. In captivity, sakers are expected to live from 15 to 20 years, but may reach a maximum age of about 25 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
10 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
25 (high) years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
5 to 7 years.

Typical lifespan

Status: captivity:
15 to 20 years.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Reproduction

In order to attract females, male sakers engage in spectacular aerial displays, in common with many other members of the genus Falco. Male sakers soar over their territories, calling loudly. They end their display flights by landing on or near a suitable nesting site.

In closer encounters with a mate or prospective mate, sakers bow to each other, and many interactions incorporate some element of bowing. Males also often feed their mates during the nesting period. When wooing a potential mate, a male will fly around, dangling prey from his talons, or will bring it to the female in an attempt to prove that he is a good provider.

Mating System: monogamous

Sakers are generally two to three years old before they begin breeding. There can be 2 to 6 eggs per brood, but generally the number is between 3 and 5 (on average 4). After the third egg is laid, full incubation begins, and usually lasts for about 32 to 36 days. In general, as is true for most falcons, males offspring develop faster than females.

The young hatch with their eyes closed, but they open in a few days. They have two downy nestling plumages before attaining juvenile plumage. They attain adult plumage when a little over a year old, after their first annual molt.

Females reach sexual maturity about a year before males; they occasionally breed in their first year, but usually not until their second or third year, and some wait until their fourth year. Males, on the other hand, begin breeding in their second year at the very earliest; most wait until the third or fourth year, and some males don’t begin breeding until their fifth year.

Breeding interval: Saker falcons breed once a year.

Breeding season: Sakers breed in the springtime. Copulation may occur as often as several times a day for a period of 4 to 8 weeks before any eggs are laid.

Range eggs per season: 2 to 6.

Range time to hatching: 32 to 36 days.

Range fledging age: 45 to 50 days.

Range time to independence: 65 to 85 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 to 4 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2-3 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 to 5 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3-4 years.

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

Young sakers begin to fly at about 45 to 50 days of age, but remain within the nesting territory, dependent on their parents for food, for another 30 to 45 days, and occasionally longer. If they encounter a large localized source of food, brood mates may remain together for some time.

While still in the nest, chicks chirps to get a parent’s attention if they are isolated, cold, or hungry. In addition, females may make a soft “chip” noise to prompt their young to open their beaks to receive food. Mothers will pass over a chick that is begging but has a full crop in order to feed a chick that has not eaten enough. When a brood is well-fed, the chicks get along better than in a brood subject to food scarcity. In a well-fed brood, the chicks share food as well as explore with each other once they begin to fly. In contrast, when food is scarce, chicks guard their food from one another, and may even try to steal food from their parents. If a chick dies and the rest of the brood is hungry, they will eat their dead sibling, but fratricide has never been observed.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning

  • Anderson, S., J. Squires. 1997. The Praire Falcon (Section 3-Prairie Falcons and Other Raptors). Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Cade, T. 1982. The Falcons of the World. London: Cornell University Press.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Falco cherrug

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2bcde+3cde+4bcde

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Andersen, M., Attila, M., Balazs, I., Burfield, I., Dixon, A., Fox, N., Galushin, V., Iankov, P., Kamp, J., Karyakin, I., Katzner, T., Kenward, R., Kovács, A., Levin, A., Luca, D., Nagy, A., Nagy, S., Nikolenko, E., Olvedi, S., Onon, Y., Parau, L., Pechacek, P., Potapov, E., Prommer, M., Sandor, A., Shobrak, M., Spasov, S. & Spina, F.

Justification
This species has been uplisted to Endangered because a revised population trend analysis indicates that it may be undergoing a very rapid decline. This negative trend is a result of unsustainable capture for the falconry trade, as well as habitat degradation and the impacts of agrochemicals, and the rate of decline appears to be particularly severe in the species's central Asian breeding grounds. This classification is highly uncertain and may be revised when new information becomes available. Surveys are urgently needed to produce more robust and less uncertain population estimates, in particular for China, Russia and Mongolia. Further research to monitor key populations and to clarify the extent of the threat from trapping and its effect on population trends is vital.


History
  • 2012
    Endangered
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

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.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Status in Egypt

Regular passage visitor and winter visitor.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Source: Bibliotheca Alexandrina - EOL Ar

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Population

Population
The global population is estimated to number c.12,800-30,800 mature individuals, based on national population estimates of breeding pairs (Karyakin 2008, Dixon 2009, A. Dixon in litt. 2012, A. Levin in litt. 2012, BirdLife International unpubl. data) that total c.6,400-15,400 pairs (median c.10,900).

Population Trend
Decreasing
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Major Threats
In Europe, this species has suffered mainly from the loss and degradation of steppes and dry grasslands through agricultural intensification, plantation establishment and declines in sheep pastoralism, causing a decline in key prey species; offtake for falconry is a serious problem, which has caused local extinctions (Baumgart 1991, 1994, K. Ruskov in litt. 2007). In eastern Hungary, landscape reversion following the abandonment of agriculture could have a negative influence, as most prey species require short swards that are maintained by agricultural practices (S. Nagy in litt. 2007). Elsewhere, declines are mainly attributable to offtake for falconry, although persecution, pesticide use (notably in Mongolia in 2003) and agrochemical deployment play a lesser part (Baumgart 1991, Remple 1994, Barton 2000, Riddle and Eastham et al. 2000, Fox 2002, Haines 2002, ERWDA 2003). The number trapped annually for Middle East falconers has been estimated at 4,000 in Saudi Arabia, 1,000 in Qatar and 500-1,000 in each of Bahrain, Kuwait and U.A.E., which, allowing for a 5% mortality prior to receipt, indicates an annual consumption of 6,825-8,400 birds (Fox 2002, ERWDA 2003). Of these, the great majority (77%) were believed to be juvenile females, followed by 19% adult females, 3% juvenile males and 1% adult males, potentially creating a major bias in the wild population (Fox 2002, ERWDA 2003). Another study, however, gives a far lower estimate for numbers legally trapped in Saudi Arabia, at an average of 22 birds per year in the period 2002-2009 (M. Shobrak in litt. 2010). Hybridisation with escaped or released hybrid falcons could influence the genetic integrity of wild populations (S. Nagy in litt. 2007, Nittinger et al. 2007). On the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau in China, policies to control rodents and herding practices, along with the development of hydroelectric dams and human settlements with electricity power infrastructure, have the potential to impact the population (A. Dixon in litt. 2012).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

The saker falcon has undergone a rapid decline in recent years, particularly in the Middle East and Asia due to trapping for the falconry trade, and now faces the very real threat of extinction (6). Of those captured for the falconry trade, the vast majority are thought to be young females, creating a major age and sex bias in the wild population that dramatically reduces its breeding potential (2) (6). Females are preferred by falconers due to their larger size and young birds because they are easier to train than adults (2). In Europe, the saker falcon is mainly threatened by the loss and degradation of steppe and dry grassland habitat due to agricultural expansion and declines in sheep pastoralism, which has in turn reduced the availability of key prey species and suitable hunting ground (6). Across the bird's range, declines are also the result of predation (by eagle owls, steppe eagles and golden eagles), human persecution, electrocution, shooting, poaching, and accidental poisoning through pesticides, which contaminate the falcon's prey (2) (6) (7). In some parts of its range, rodent plagues result in the extensive use of poisons to control them, causing the indiscriminate deaths of many raptors that feed on them (5) (7).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

declining factors

it is threatened by declining of its prey[rodents] due to transforming agriculture and habitats,poisning,electrocution and nest robbing,farm developement.

  • wikipedia.org
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© петя спасова

Supplier: петя спасова

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
This is a protected and red-listed species in many range states, particularly in the western parts of its range (Baumgart 1991, 1994). It is listed on CMS Appendix I (as of November 2011, and excluding the Mongolian population) and CITES Appendix II, and in 2002 CITES imposed a trade ban on UAE, strongly affecting the unregulated market there (Fox 2002). It occurs in a number of protected areas across its range. Intensive wardening and management has produced a steadily rising population in Hungary (Baumgart 1994). Controls of illegal trade were implemented in various countries in western range in 1990s (Baumgart 1994). Captive breeding has developed strongly in some countries, including U.A.E., as a means of substituting farmed for wild-caught birds (Riddle and Remple 1994, N. Fox in litt. 2002). Clinics have also been set up to improve the longevity and availability of wild-caught birds in various Gulf states (Riddle and Remple 1994, Bailey et al. 2001). New research programmes in many parts of the range have begun to establish baseline data on distribution, population, ecology and threats. In Mongolia, the process of erecting 5,000 artificial nests has begun, funded by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, which are predicted to provide nesting sites for up to 500 pairs by 2015 (A. Dixon in litt. 2010). As a product of the resolution resulting from CMS COP10 in November 2011, a Saker Falcon Task Force was established and met for the first time in March 2012 in Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.). The task force has the objective of involving range states, partners and interested parties in the development of a coordinated Global Action Plan for the species's conservation, including a management and monitoring framework. Conservation efforts in Europe have resulted in positive population trends (A. Dixon in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Maintain or implement programmes of population and habitat management throughout the range. Maintain or improve systems of wardening and customs control (including DNA sampling to check provenance of traded birds). Continue key biological research (Baumgart 1991, 1994). Enforce CITES regulations, particularly in the Middle East and Asia. Improve exportation standards including meeting IATA transportation specifications. Improve import regulations, staff capacity and practices (quarantine facilities). Monitor markets to quantify falcon trade. Develop existing microchipping schemes to help monitor and regulate trade and quantify its effects. Increase awareness of health and conservation issues among falconers. Continue studying, monitoring and censusing the species throughout its range. Maintain ecologically and socially sustainable grazing systems to ensure long-term survival of key prey species. Bring greater protection (against conversion, degradation and pollution) to key breeding environments (Baumgart 1991, Bailey et al. 2001, Fox 2002, ERWDA 2003).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

The saker falcon is protected across much of its range, particularly in Eastern Europe, where controls of illegal trade were implemented in various countries in the 1990s (6). There have been concerted conservation efforts in Europe, and intensive patrolling and management has even produced a steadily rising population in Hungary (5) (6). The species is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and in 2002 CITES imposed a trade ban on the United Arab Emirates (3). However, more needs to be done to monitor illegal trade, which evidently continues, and to enforce regulations against it. Certain countries, including the United Arab Emirates, have reduced the demand for wild-caught birds by captive breeding 'farmed' saker falcons to trade to falconers instead (6). A programme to erect artificial nest platforms in the Mongolian steppe is proving a significant conservation measure for the breeding saker falcon population (7). Constructing artificial nests prevents the falcon constructing nests on electricity pylons, during which many are electrocuted (8). In addition, a number of research programmes have also been established to learn more about the distribution, population, and ecology of this species, in addition to the threats facing it, which should help to inform appropriate conservation efforts and management strategies in the future (6).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

As with all falcons, sakers may prey upon species (such as pigeons) that humans value. They are not well liked by gamekeepers.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Sakers are a favorite of Arab falconers.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; ecotourism ; controls pest population

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Saker falcon

The saker falcon (Falco cherrug) is a very large falcon. This species breeds from eastern Europe eastwards across Asia to Manchuria. It is mainly migratory except in the southernmost parts of its range, wintering in Ethiopia, the Arabian peninsula, northern Pakistan and western China.

Etymology[edit]

The specific part of the scientific name, cherrug, comes from the Hindi name charg for a female saker.[2] The common name saker comes from the Arabic صقر (pronounced saqr) meaning "falcon".[3]

Description and systematics[edit]

The saker falcon is a large hierofalcon, larger than the lanner falcon and almost as large as Gyrfalcon at 47–55 cm (18-22 inches) length with a wingspan of 105–129 cm (42-50 inches). Its broad blunt wings give it a shadow similar to gyrfalcon, but its plumage is more similar to a lanner falcon's.

Saker falcons have brown upperbellies and contrasting grey flight feathers. The head and underparts are paler brown, with streaking from the breast down. Males (called sakrets in falconry) and females are similar, as are young birds, although these tend to be a duller brown. The call is a sharp kiy-ee.

Adults can be distinguished from the similar lanner falcon since the lanner is blue-grey above with a reddish back to the head. However, juveniles of the two species can be very similar although the saker falcon always has a uniformly buff top of the head with dark streaks, and a less clear pattern on the sides of the head.

A further complication is that some Asian birds have grey barred upperparts; these must be separated from lanner on size, structure, and a weaker moustache stripe. Saker falcons at the northeast edge of the range in the Altai Mountains are slightly larger, and darker and more heavily spotted on the underparts than other populations. These, known as the Altai falcon, have been treated in the past either as a distinct species "Falco altaicus" or as a hybrid between saker falcon and gyrfalcon, but modern opinion (e.g. Orta 1994) is to tentatively treat it as a form of saker falcon, until comprehensive studies of its population genetics and ecology are available.

This species belongs to the close-knit hierofalcon complex. In this group, there is ample evidence for rampant hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting which confounds analyses of DNA sequence 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. 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 saker falcon represents a lineage that expanded out of northeastern Africa into the interior of southeastern Europe and Asia, by way of the eastern Mediterranean region.[4]

In captivity, lanners and sakers can interbreed, and gyrfalcon-saker hybrids are also available (see bird flu experiment described in "Ecology and status").

A Hungarian mythological bird, the Turul, was probably a saker falcon (Kerecsensólyom).[5]

Ecology and status[edit]

The saker falcon is a raptor of open grasslands preferably with some trees or cliffs. It often hunts by horizontal pursuit, rather than the peregrine's stoop from a height, and feeds mainly on rodents and birds. In Europe, ground squirrels and feral pigeons are the most common prey items. This species usually builds no nest of its own, but lays its 3-6 eggs in an old stick nest in a tree which was previously used by other birds such as storks, ravens or buzzards. It also often nests on cliffs.

BirdLife International categorises this bird as endangered, due to a rapid population decline, particularly on the central Asian breeding grounds. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United Arab Emirates have been the main destination for thousands of falcons caught and sold illegally for hefty sums at the black market. Kazakhstan is estimated to lose up to 1,000 saker falcons per year.[6]

The species also faces pressure from habitat loss and destruction. The population was estimated to be between 7,200 and 8,800 mature individuals in 2004. In the United States there are several captive breeding projects. There are currently several successful breeding projects by falconers in Canada. The most dramatic decline of the saker falcon in Asia has been in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. On the contrary, a strongly protected and relatively abundant population persist in Hungary.

Saker nests support a species-rich assemblage of commensal insects (Merkl et al. 2004).

Saker falcons are known to be very susceptible to avian influenza, individuals having been found infected with highly pathogenic H5N1 (in Saudi Arabia) and H7N7 (in Italy) strains. Therefore an experiment was done with hybrid gyr-saker falcons, which found that 5 falcons vaccinated with a commercial H5N2 influenza vaccine survived infection with a highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, whereas 5 unvaccinated falcons died. This means that sakers could be protected from bird flu by vaccination, at least in captivity.[7]

A saker falcon (Turul) monument at Tatabánya, Hungary.

In culture[edit]

Saker falcon is the national bird of Hungary, known as Turul in the Hungarian mythology.[citation needed]

In Disney's Mulan, the Hun Leader Shan Yu owns a saker falcon called Hayabusa.

Use in falconry[edit]

The saker falcon has been used in falconry for thousands of years, and like its very close relative the gyrfalcon is a highly regarded falconry bird. Swift and powerful, it is effective against medium and large game bird species.[8] In recent years hybrids of saker falcons and peregrine falcons have been developed in order to provide falconers a bird with greater size and horizontal speed than the peregrine, with greater propensity for diving stoops on game than the saker.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2013). "Falco cherrug". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (1991). A Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. OUP. ISBN 0 19 854634 3. 
  3. ^ "Definition of saker". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Helbig et al. (1994), Wink et al. (1998), Wink et al. (2004), Nittinger et al. (2005)
  5. ^ Laszlo Molnar: Saker Falcon protection in Eastern Europe
  6. ^ Antelava, Natalia (5 August 2007). Kazakhs use eagle to save rare falcon. BBC News. 
  7. ^ Lierz, Michael; Hafez M. Hafez, Robert Klopfleisch, Dörte Lüschow, Christine Prusas, Jens P. Teifke, Miriam Rudolf, Christian Grund, Donata Kalthoff, Thomas Mettenleiter, Martin Beer, and Timm Harder (November 2007). "Protection and Virus Shedding of Falcons Vaccinated against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A Virus (H5N1)". Emerging Infectious Diseases (Centers for Disease Control) 13 (11): 1667–74. doi:10.3201/eid1311.070705. PMC 3375792. PMID 18217549. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  8. ^ Beebe, Frank (1984). A Falconry Manual. Hancock House Publishers, ISBN 0-88839-978-2.

References[edit]

  • 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. PDF fulltext
  • Merkl, O.; Bagyura, J; Rózsa, L. (2004) Insects inhabiting Saker (Falco cherrug) nests in Hungary. Ornis Hungarica 14: 1-4. PDF fulltext
  • 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 PDF fulltext
  • Orta, Jaume (1994): 57. Saker Falcon. In: del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew & Sargatal, Jordi (eds.): Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl: 273-274, plate 28. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-15-6
  • Tomek, Teresa & Bocheński, Zygmunt (2005) Weichselian and Holocene bird remains from Komarowa Cave, Central Poland. Acta zoologica cracoviensia 48A(1-2) 43-65. PDF fulltext
  • 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. PDF fulltext
  • 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. PDF fulltext
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!