Photo of the Month: Lanner Falcon

By Megan Runquist Holmstedt

Lanner falcon; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Lanner falcon; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Status: This falcon is listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its large range.  Although common in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, the wild population in Europe is small and declining.

Habitat: The lanner falcon is widespread across Africa, the Middle East, and parts of the central and eastern Mediterranean.  Usually found in open country, this falcon lives in habitats ranging from extreme desert to wet, forested mountains at elevations of up to 16,000 feet. The birds can also be found in urban settings, as long as there are open or lightly wooded areas nearby for hunting.

Diet: This species eats primarily other birds, taken while in flight. They will also eat small mammals, reptiles, and large insects.

Lanner falcons are strong, stocky birds with long wings and relatively short tails – very similar to the North American peregrine falcon. Unlike peregrines, however, which hunt using 200-mph dives (called “stoops” in falconry), lanner falcons use a horizontal hunting style, coming at their prey low and fast.  Generating speeds of up to 90 mph using wingbeats alone, lanner falcons will often strike a bird in flight to stun it, then follow it to the ground to finish the kill.

Like all falcons, these birds do not build their own nests. A mated pair will either take over an abandoned nest (usually built by ravens or vultures), or simply lay eggs on a ledge or crevice with no nesting material. The female lays two to four eggs in early March, and both parents share incubation duties. Once chicks hatch, the female is primarily responsible for their care and feeding. Juvenile lanner falcons fledge near the end of May, but remain dependent on their parents for another four to six weeks.

Slider, pictured above, can be seen displaying his hunting skills during the World of Birds Show at the Angela Collier World of Birds Theater.