The Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) is a medium-large to large falcon. It is mainly distributed in the Palearctic and Afrotropical region. But this falcon is a native to south Europe and east Europe. During winter and passage periods it mainly appears in southern Europe: Italy, Balkan, the east Mediterranean. It seems to breed around the Black Sea area, Israel, Jordan, Sinai and in parts of the Arabian peninsula.
For most people, this bird is very rare and it is hard to find them in nature in Europe. There is good news for those of us being interested in getting a glimpse of these wonderful birds: There are plenty of holdings of the Lanner falcon in zoos and falconries across the European Union (EU), in the UK, the UAE, Switzerland, Singapore, Russia and Israel. I include a link to the holdings at the end of this post or simply click here. Currently there are 41 holdings of this bird listed for the UK.
Geographical Variations of the Lanner Falcon
There are five sub-species / races known, most of them in Africa.
- Falco biarmicus biarmicus – Angola to east Zaire, Uganda, south Kenya and southwards to Cape Province (South Africa).
- Falco b. feldeggii – Italy to Asia Minor, Azerbaijan
- Falco b. tanypterus – Middle East to northeast Africa, further west to eastern Lybia, and southwards to Sudan.
- Falco b. erlangeri – northwest Africa and eastwards to central Lybia, more southwards to Mauritania and to southern Sahara. – smallest and palest sub-species of the Lanner
- Falco b. abyssinicus – tropical sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal/Gambia (Senegambia) eastwards to Ethiopia and Somalia, southwards to northern Kenya.
Characteristics of the Lanner Falcon
Species: Lanner Falcon
Scientific Name: Falco [rusticolus] biarmicus
Names and Synonyms of the Lanner Falcon
French: Faucon lanier
Spanich: Halcón Borní
Polish: Raróg górski
Russian: Lanner Ланнер
Hebrew: בז צוקים
Arabic: صقر الغزال, صقر حر
Swahili: Kozi Marumbi
Distribution – Movements – Wintering – Habitat
Distribution: Both Palearctic and Afrotropical: South and southeast Europe, Middle East, southwesternmost Asia and Africa (there overlapping with Saker).
In Europe we find the Lanner in the aride zones of south Europe and there mainly in Hungary, the Balkans, Greece and on Sicily.
Movements: Largely resident, juveniles are migratory.
Wintering: Italian peninsula, Sicily, Balkan, Greece, Turkey, Black Sea area, Iran, Iraq, east Mediterranean; Israel, Jordan, Sinai.
Habitat: open and dry country, habitat ranges from extreme desert to forestine mountains, desert and semi-desert, rocky wadis and canyons in barren uplands, open and lightly wooded savannah and all kind of grassland.
Behaviour of the Lanner Falcon
Good gliding abilities, using thermals to soar high. In flight slow wing beat, much slower than Peregrine Falcon. The Lanner cuts ist prey on the ground and also in flight. Lanner tend to hunt in parties.
Field Characteristics of the Lanner Falcon
Most people in most of Europe and all over the world will never have the chance to meet such a bird but for zoos and falconries. This bird is slightly smaller than the Saker falcon which it could be confused for. It shows narrower wings and tail than the Saker looks more like a short-tailed Kestrel.
The adult bird shows slate-grey or brownish-grey upperparts, whereas the European subspecies shows a more barred dark colour. The underparts are less streaked than Saker but is more finely spotted on flanks and trousers. Nape and supercilium are pale chestnut, though only if present. Blackish narrouw moustachial stripe.
Measurements and Voice
♂ 44 cm
♀ 49 cm
Tail: 17-20 cm
♂ 500-600 g
♀ 700-900 g
♂: 100 cm
♀: 110 cm
Voice: Silent when away from breeding area. Calls are similar to those of the larger falcons, harsh screams and cackles, often uttered as rhythmic series. Calls resemble Gyrfalcon.
Maturity: Mature from 2nd to 3rd year.
Mating Season: Monogamous breeding pair, though because of ist loyalty to the breeding gound, relationships can last for several years. In southern Europe mating season starts as early as February.
Clutches per breeding season1 clutch
Breeding: In central Europa from mid March to June; over the entire area in Europe and northern Africa February to July; east Africa June to October and December to March; southern Africa May to February peaking between August to November.
Nest: Lanner falcons do not build own nests but use the nests of other large raptors, herons, storks or crows. Nest sits on cliff ledges, rocky outcrops, only rarely on ground. In central Europe nests sit on tall trees, and on cliff ledges and outcrops.
Clutch, Eggs & Measurements
Clutch: (rarely 2-) 3-5 (max. -6) Eier
Eggs: broad oval eggs, yellowish shell with stains in red, black or yellow-brown.
Laying, Incubation, Fledging & Dependency
Recurrent Clutch: possible when clutch is lost. New clutch only after c 30 days after loss..
Laying Interval: 2-3 days.
Begin of incubating: after laying the third egg.
Incubation: 36-38 days, it is mostly the ♀ incubating, while being fed by the ♂, which also keeps watch over clutch and ♀..
Hatching: All chicken hatch within a day.
Fleding: Chicken are huddled by ♀ during first days; female feeds the chicken with the food brought by ♂. After the end of week three the ♀ also hunts and feeds the juveniles. Fledging after 42-45 days.
Dependency: After fledging the immatures are being fed and cared for by parents for another 4-6 weeks. After 60 days a parent accompanies the immatures during hunting flights.
Food: Between 68 and 84% of the prey are birds, the rest is small mammals (rodents). In eastern Europe the main prey is the ground squirrel; also bats, insects, locally also reptiles and only rarely amphibians; occasionally also carrion is eaten.
Longenvity: In captivity, the Lanner can reach an age of 17 years.
Mortality: According to studies in Morocco, only 25% of all fledged juveniles reach maturity.
Threats: Threats are mostly down to human activity, which are plundering of nests, taking away eggs and chicken. In Asia young Lanner are mostly taken from nests to train them for falconry.
Bauer, Hans-Günther, Bezzel, Einhard et. al. (HG), Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 1+2, Sonderausgabe 2012, Aula Verlag, Wiebelsheim
Bauer, Hans-Günther, Bezzel, Einhard et. al. (HG), Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 3, Literatur und Anhang, Aula Verlag Wiebelsheim, 2. vollständig überarbeitete Auflage 1993
Baumgart, Wolfgang, Der Sakerfalke, Die Neue Brehmbücherei, A. Ziemsen Verlag Wittenberg Lutherstadt, 2. Auflage 1980
Bezzel, Einhard, Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Non-Passeriformes, Band 1, AULA-Verlag Wiesbaden, 1985
Bruun/Singer/König/Der Kosmos Vogelführer, Franck’sche Verlagshandlung Stuttgart, 5. Auflage 1982
Ferguson-Lees, James and Christie, David A., Raptors of the World, Houghton Mifflin Company Boston New York, 2001
Ferguson-Lees, James, Christie, David, Raptors of the World, A Field Guide, Christopher Helm London, 2005, reprinted 2019
Glutz von Blotzheim, Urs et. al (HG), Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 4, Falconiformes, AULA-Verlag Wiesbaden, 2. durchgesehene Auflage 1989
Mebs, Theodor (†), Schmidt, Daniel, Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens, Franck-Kosmos Verlag Stuttgart, 2. Auflage 2014
Svenson, Lars et. al, Der Kosmos Vogelführer, Franck-Kosmos Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart, 2. Auflage 2011
Svenson, Lars, et al, Collins Bird Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe, Harper Collins, 2019, 2nd edition
German Falconry Assiciation – Deutscher Falkenorden link
Raptor Bird Station Hellenthal link
Zootierliste – list of current holdings of the Lanner Falcon link
Post image of Lanner Falcon by: ©Raymond Loyal
Egg of Lanner Falcon – source: by Roger Culos – own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87939536
All other post images of Lanner Falcon by: ©Raymond Loyal