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Falcon, Lanner

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Johan van Rensburg
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Falcon, Lanner

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:04 pm

Falcon, Lanner Falco biarmicus

The name falcon originates from Latin falco; falconis, meaning with tallons in the shape of a scythe. The Lanner Falcon is presumed to be the oldest living hierofalcon species, the lineage being 130,000 to 200,000 years old.

In Europe they are bred in captivity for falconry. Lanner Falcon males are called lannerets and is sometimes used as a 'first falcon' by falconers starting out. Displaying a good nature sometimes lacking in more highly powered birds, what Lanners lack in hunting prowess they more than make up for in personality. Outstandingly manoeuvrable, they use their large tails and relatively low wing loading to perform exceptionally to the lure and can take a range of small birds as prey.

Physical characteristics:
Lanner falcons are similar in size to the Peregrine Falcon, (36 – 48cm length with a wingspan of 95 – 105cm males weighing around 490g and females 690g) but are longer in the wing and tail and have a paler coloration. It also lacks the striking black-and-white face pattern of a Peregrine, since there is always lots of rufous brown in the crown and the malar stripes are much less prominent while the forehead is white. The eye ring varies from pale yellow to orange. Beak is greyish blue with dark tip. Back is uniformly slate grey, showing little contrast with their rather pale belly. The legs and feet are rich yellow.

Sexes are similar, although the females are slightly larger.

Juveniles are much slimmer, with brownish back and dark streaked chest and belly.

Image
Juvenile

Image
Adult


Distribution and habitat:
The Lanner Falcon is a relatively common native to all of Africa and the southern parts of Italy, Sicily, Greece and Asia Minor. It is essentially a bird of mountainous terrain except in Africa, where it is also found in savannahs, plains and deserts.

Behaviour:
Lanner falcons live in pairs. When defending its nesting territory, it will often stoop with tremendous force at an animal it cannot hope to kill, which seems to be, nonetheless, an effective deterrent.

Lanner Falcons are fast and agile flyers. They often perch on posts and pylons.

Diet:
Doves and pigeons make up as much as 50% of the Lanner’s diet but it is well capable of catching birds up to the size of a Guinea Fowl. It will also eat small mammals especially the larger fruit bats. When prey of this kind is scarce, ground living mammals and lizards are taken. It will also gorge on locusts and flying termites when they are swarming. Occasionally it will eat carrion.

Hunting technique:
The fast-flying Lanner Falcon likes open spaces where it has the possibility to track down and hunt by horizontal pursuit. Watering points where numerous birds congregate to drink is a favourite hunting spot. Lanner Falcons practice cooperative hunting. Female acts like a beater and hunts out victims while the male remains a bit behind, ready to swoop down on the prey. This technique is rather unusual amongst birds of prey. Much, but not all of the Lanner Falcon's prey is taken in the air. The falcon descends to its prey, sometimes head-on and binds to it with a smack which can be heard some way off.

Occasionally it will strike its prey in the air and allow it to drop to the ground, collecting it there, but this is less frequent behaviour. Some of the prey birds are attacked in their nests. In such cases the Lanner Falcon will often eat the eggs of its victim.

Breeding and nesting:
The Lanner Falcon breeds with one partner for life. Normally, Lanner Falcons don't build their own nests. They will use a simple scrape or reuse other species’ old nests found on a sheltered ledge or in a tree. In southern Africa the female lays one to five buff coloured eggs with dark speckles between mid-May to early September. Both parents sit on alternatively for about 30-35 days. Young fledge at about 40 days after hatching.

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Unread postby Wild about cats » Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:52 pm

Saw a pair on the S39 in late Decemebr last year. They flew off, so I didn't get any pics. :(
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Unread postby josey » Sat Jul 05, 2008 9:07 pm

Please ID for me.
Taken in Imfolozi, KZN, April 2008.
I think it is an Eurasian Hobby?? Mainly because of the speckled chest but it could be a Juv of another?
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Unread postby Magaff » Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:52 am

Looks like a Lanner Falcon to me J, although a few years ago i did manage to see a European Hobby in Imfolozi.

Nice sighting and i'll wait for an expert to confirm.

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Jul 07, 2008 10:01 am

I agree on an immature Lanner Falcon.

The Eurasian Hobby and Peregrine Falcon has a darker crown.
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Moegaai » Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:31 am

Some help with this Falcon please... Seen in Satara-area early Feb. The heavily streaked chest with pale vent made me think it's a juvenile Lanner Falcon, but the problem is that juv Lanner has uniform dark tail, not light and barred. Other interesting feature is the dark underwing with light flight feathers... The bird was solitary amongst a huge flock of White Stork and Marabou. Unfortunately taken mid-day, so not the greatest pics...

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Image

Thanks!

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:12 am

Hi, Moegaai.

I have no idea of the source that told you that juv lanner falcon tails are unmarked uniformly dark. I am sure Johann won't mind me using a (brilliant) pic of his taken in KTP to illustrate the point... a bird in about the same development stage as yours. And it has a barred tail plain for all to see. :lol:

Image
Large view

You can safely give the title of Lanner Falcon to your pix. :thumbs_up:
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Moegaai » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:16 am

Thanks Johan (and Johann!)!!! I'm very pleased that my gut feel on the spot of the sighting turned out to be right. 8)

FYI, I was using my SASOL Bird Guide for this ID late last night. All my other books were held up in the bedroom where the sleeping SO would have killed me if I bothered her to get my books! :doh:

The SASOL is the one that has a specific tail illustration for the juv, indicating a uniform, dark tail... :huh:

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Johann » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:38 am

Uhm... it is a pleasure I guess.

:lol: no probs with using my pics JvR. Especially for educational purposes I really don't mind.

@Moegaai: go to Kgalagadi and you'll never have to ask about a juvenile Lanner again. They are all over the place, in all plumage stages. One thing that always sticks out is the rufous (lighter coloured) crown.
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Bookman » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:03 pm

The barred tail is also very clearly shown in the Sappi Raptor identification guide - a very guide source to try and get hold of.

I agree about the Kgalagadi as well - and the great variation applies to the Tawny Eagles there as well.

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Moegaai » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:45 pm

I have to apologise to SASOL - the "dark tail" illustration of the Lanner Falcon on p123 is showing the tail from the TOP (but it doesn't actually say so), so I was just being too quick to post the ID confirmation to look into it in more detail. But the fact is it did create doubt!

Then on p134 the SASOL has a side-on flight illustration of the Lanner, and here it shows the juv fem with the top of the tail BARRED :huh:.

Overall a bit confusing if you ask me, but ultimately I was to blame for creating my own doubt of my ID! Just shows how different books are better or worse here and there, and therefore all of them should be considered supplementary.

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby anne-marie » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:57 am

and this one... a Falcon

Image

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:39 pm

Looks like Lanner Falcon to me :D
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Imax » Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:21 pm

Any body want to try this one. Seen on the in southern Freestate close to Ladybrand.


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Identification help: Raptors

Unread postby Barcud » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:49 pm

Hi Imax,

I would go for Juv Lanner Falcon based on shape, colouration and patterning of underwitg and tail.

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Oops,
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