Falco biarmicuslanner falcon

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Geographic Range

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. (BirdLife International, 1999; del Hoyo, et al., 1994)

Habitat

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. (BirdLife International, 1999; "Lanner Falcon - Falco biarmicus", 2003)

  • Range elevation
    50 to 5000 m
    164.04 to 16404.20 ft

Physical Description

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. (del Hoyo, et al., 1994; Lasnier, 2003)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range mass
    500 to 900 g
    17.62 to 31.72 oz
  • Range length
    35 to 50 cm
    13.78 to 19.69 in
  • Range wingspan
    90 to 110 cm
    35.43 to 43.31 in

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. (del Hoyo, et al., 1994)

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. (del Hoyo, et al., 1994)

  • 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

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. (del Hoyo, et al., 1994; "Falcon - Lanner", 2003)

  • 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

Lifespan/Longevity

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

Behavior

Falco biarmicus is known for its swiftness and agility in flight, as well as its loud, repeated "kak-kak" call. Lanner falcons are solitary birds outside of mating season, though they are frequently observed hunting in pairs when pursuing larger prey. Cooperative hunting is also used to teach their young how to catch prey in flight. They are diurnal and do not migrate, but are known to range hundreds of miles from their breeding territory. (del Hoyo, et al., 1994; Leonardi, 2001; "Falcon - Lanner", 2003)

Falco biarmicus is known to compete with Falco peregrinus, peregrin falcons, for both prey and nest sites. It also competes with ravens (Corvus corax). (Leonardi, 2001)

Home Range

We do not have information on home range for this species at this time.

Communication and Perception

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. ("Falcon - Lanner", 2003)

Food Habits

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. (del Hoyo, et al., 1994; "Falcon - Lanner", 2003)

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats terrestrial vertebrates
  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • reptiles
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Predation

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. ("Falcon - Lanner", 2003)

Ecosystem Roles

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. (del Hoyo, et al., 1994)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

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. (BirdLife International, 1999; "Falcon - Lanner", 2003)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

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. ("Falcon - Lanner", 2003)

Conservation Status

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). (BirdLife International, 1999)

Contributors

Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Zachary Zeneberg (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

The Central Pets Educational Foundation. 2003. "Falcon - Lanner" (On-line). Centralpets.com. Accessed April 21, 2004 at http://www.centralpets.com/phpscripts/PrintFriendly.php?AnimalNumber=3011.

The Edinburgh Bird of Prey Centre. 2003. "Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)" (On-line). Accessed April 21, 2004 at http://www.birdsofprey.org.uk/Lanner%20Falcon.htm.

European Communities. 2003. "Lanner Falcon - Falco biarmicus" (On-line). Accessed April 21, 2004 at http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/nature/directive/falco_biarmicus_en.htm.

BirdLife International, 1999. Lanner Falcon - Falco biarmicus. International Species Action Plan. Accessed April 21, 2004 at http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/nature/directive/birdactionplan/16_actions_plan/05falco_biarmicus.pdf.

Channing, K. 2003. "Lanner Falcon - Falco biarmicus" (On-line). The Hawk Conservancy and Country Park. Accessed April 21, 2004 at http://www.hawk-conservancy.org/priors/lanner.shtml.

Lasnier, J. 2003. "Faucon lanier - Lanner falcon" (On-line). Lasnier Canada. Accessed April 21, 2004 at http://www.lasnier-canada.org/PAGE/oiseau.html.

Leonardi, G. 2001. Falco biarmicus - Lanner Falcon. BWP Update, 3(3): 157-174. Accessed April 21, 2004 at http://www3.oup.co.uk/bwpjnl/hdb/Volume_03/Issue_03/030157.sgm.abs.html.

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, J. Sargatal. 1994. Lanner Falcon. Pp. 273 in Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 2, 1st Edition. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1994.