Lanner Falcon, Falco biarmicus

Names

English: Lanner Falcon
Scientific: Falco biarmicus
German: Lanner
Spanish: Halcón Barní
French: Faucon lanier

Taxonomy and Subspecies

5 subspecies are recognized [GRIN 2009]. In Europe only the subspecies F. b. feldeggii breeds.
Forms a superspecies with other closely related falcons like the Saker Falcon, the Gyrfalcon and the Laggar Falcon Falco jugger (which does not occur in Europe) [GRIN 2009].

Size

Length: 44-49 cm
Wingspan: 100-110 cm
Weight: Male 500-600 g, Female 700-900 g

Maximum Age

17 years in captivity. [Mebs & Schmidt 2006]

Habitat

Lanner Falcons in Europe are found in open areas, mostly in mountains, but on the Balkan, Lanners can also be found at the coast. Hunts in open areas, incl. agricultural land. In Africa, the species also nests in deserts.

Distribution

The Lanner Falcon is mostly an African species which also occurs in small numbers in the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, south-eastern Europe and Italy.
In Europe, the species is found in Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Greece and Bulgaria (although only in low numbers in most countries) [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].

Migration

Adult birds in Europe are sedentary. Juvenile and immature Lanner Falcons are more mobile until they start breeding themselves.

Breeding and Reproduction

Capable of breeding with two or three years old [Mebs & Schmidt 2006]. Like all falcons, Lanner Falcons don't build nests on their own. Breeds mostly built on cliffs, but breeding in other bird's nests on trees is also known.
Clutch size is normally 3-4 eggs, in rare cases 5 [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].
Incubation time is about 32-35 days and the young stay in the nest for about 6 weeks. After fledging, the young depend on their parents for another 4-6 weeks [Bauer et al. 2005]

Food and hunting

Beside the occasional insects which are even hunted on foot, the Lanner mostly hunts birds and to a lesser extend small mammals, amphibians and reptiles.
During a study on Sicily the most important prey species where Rock Pigeon, Magpie, Sparrows, Jackdaws, Starlings and Larks [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].
A pair often hunts together.

Population

One of the rarest raptors in Europe (though common and widespread outside of Europe). BirdLife estimated the European population at between 480 and 900 pairs [BirdLife 2004]. Between 300 and 600 of those breed in Turkey. Beside Turkey, the largest European population breeds in Italy (100 - 140 pairs according to [BirdLife 2004] and 160 - 200 according to [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].
In Greece there are between 36 and 55 pairs and Macedonia has between 10 and 30 pairs [BirdLife 2004].
Other European countries with very small populations are Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Threats

Although widespread and common in many parts of it's range (for example in Africa south of the Sahara), the population in Europe is small and vulnerable. In Europe the Lanner is threatened by illegal shooting, egg collecting and stealing of young birds for falconry. Disturbance during the breeding season, for example by climbers, can also have a negative effect [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].
Habitat destruction by road building, advancing agriculture and development is another threat.
Use of pesticides can also have a serious negative effect by reducing the number of available prey. Also, the breeding success can be negatively affected by pesticides that accumulate in the eggs.

Conservation

Use of pesticides should be reduced drastically and organic farming should be encouraged. The destruction of suitable habitat must be stopped and where possible reversed. Illegal hunting, egg collecting and stealing of young falcons out of the nest must be better controlled and persecuted.
Disturbance during the breeding season must be kept at a minimum. Climbers and other people who spend time near the nest must be informed and educated. Often this will be enough to reduce the disturbance.
Nest sites should be fully protected, at least during the breeding season.

Status IUCN/BirdLife

Least Concern (LC)

Status Global Raptor Information Network

Lower risk

References

[Bauer et al. 2005] Bauer, H.-G., Bezzel, E. & Fiedler, W. 2005. Das Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas. Aula-Verlag

[BirdLife International 2004] BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife Interntional. Cambridge, UK. (Lanner Falcon species account available at: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/BirdsInEuropeII/BiE2004Sp3617.pdf

[GRIN 2009] Global Raptor Information Network. 2009. Species account: Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 18 May. 200

[Mebs & Schmidt 2006] Mebs, Theodor & Schmidt, Daniel (2006). Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens. Kosmos Verlag.

Books

Forsman, Dick (1999). The Raptors of Europe and the Middle East A Handbook of Field Identification. Poyser

Mebs, Theodor & Schmidt, Daniel (2006). Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens. Kosmos Verlag.

Websites

BirdLife Species Factsheet for the Lanner Falcon

GRIN species account for the Lanner Falcon