Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)

Lanner Falcon

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Falco biarmicus | [authority] Temminck, 1825 | [UK] Lanner Falcon | [FR] Faucon lanier | [DE] Lannerfalke | [ES] Halcon borni | [NL] Lannervalk


Monotypic species


Members of the genus falco are mostly medium-sized falcons, but vary from the large peregrine falcon to the small American kestrel. The wings are long and pointed and used almost continuously during flight. The bill is short, powerful, and with a distinct ‘tooth’ on each side. Most falcons of this group have a black teardrop-shaped ‘mustache’ mark on each side of the head. Falcons are fastflying birds of open country and are famous for attaining high speeds as they dive from high altitudes to knock birds out of the air.

Physical charateristics

Chestnut extending to neck and mantle, and underparts barred.
Female larger and often darker than male.
Juvenile brown above, underparts heavily streaked with dark grey, facial skin pale blue , not yellow.
To the N races have underparts finely spotted with black, whereas almost unmarked in S populations. Races also differ in size and intensity of coloration.

Listen to the sound of Lanner Falcon

[audio: Falcon.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 95 cm wingspan max.: 115 cm
size min.: 40 cm size max.: 50 cm
incubation min.: 32 days incubation max.: 35 days
fledging min.: 44 days fledging max.: 35 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Eurasia, Africa : South Europe, Arabian Peninsula, widespread AF


The Lanner Falcon breeds at 50-1150 m in Sicily, but most often around 500m. In other continental areas it may breed at higher altitude (Mirabelli 1981), but always in places with an arid climate and preferably a southern aspect. It rarely breeds on sea cliffs. In Sicily, the typical habitat is arid valleys dominated by rocky cliffs of moderate height (70-80 m), with sparse uncultivated land, pastures, and non-irrigated arable land. Nests are located generally at 30-35 m height. Typical hunting habitat is expansive rocky terrain and inland steppes, while forested areas are avoided generally.


The ecology of the species is poorly known and most of the available information originates from Italy. The Lanner Falcon breeds in isolated pairs, using rocky cliffs as nest sites. The African subspecies breeds also in trees and on electricity pylons. The eggs are laid in cavities or holes, deserted nests of Corvids and other raptors, and (rarely) on ledges. Cliffs used for breeding is commonly composed of calcareous, tufaceous and sandstone rock. The species is monogamous and the mating period begins in December-January in southern areas. The clutch (usually 3-4 eggs, sometimes 2 eggs) is laid between the end of February and mid-March, and is incubated by both sexes. Hatching takes place usually in mid-April, and the chicks are fed mainly by the female. Fledging occurs usually in mid May, but extremes are early April too early June. In Sicily the fledging-rate is 2.3 juv./pair, while in Emilia-Romagna (Italy), the northern range limit, it is 1.7
juv./pair. In central Italy, productivity appears to be low (at 1.1 juv./pair.

Feeding habits

Prey species vary with location, but are mostly small and medium-sized birds (thrushes, pigeons and corvids), weighing on average 100-150 g. Reptiles, insects and, more rarely, small mammals (e.g. bats and mice) are also consumed. Insects constitute up to 30% of the diet. In Tunisia, the falcon feeds on the chicks of the ground dwelling bird Alectoris barbara during the breeding season. But in the south it often hunts small mammals and sometimes lizards, while at Chebika Oasis it specialises in hunting bats as they leave their day-time roost. At a breeding site in Lazio, central Italy, Squirrels are often preyed upon.

Video Lanner Falcon


copyright: P. Waanders


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 100,000-1,000,000 individuals (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001). Global population trends have not been quantified, but there is evidence of a population increase (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001), and so the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
This falcon inhabits a major part of Africa and Arabia. In Europe its distribution is restricted to Italy and Greece. The total population of the European Union has strongly decreased since 1950. Direct persecution – as for all raptors – and collecting of fledglings by falconers are the main reasons for this decline, which seems to be still in progress.

In the early 1990’s, the European population of subspecies feldeggii was estimated to be 250-300 pairs, 70% of which bred in Italy (and 60 % of these in Sicily). More recent information suggests a larger population, totalling 328-431 pairs. There seems to have been a steep decline in numbers in Europe, although there is a lack of accurate census data and results from different methodologies are difficult to compare. The population of subspecies erlangeri is considered to total 1350-1400 pairs, while the tanypterus subspecies is estimated in 75-80 pairs. The Palearctic population of Falco biarmicus is therefore estimated to total 1753-1921 pairs, although this remains provisional since data for many range countries are based on historic information or are missing. In particular, information for Morocco (which supports over 50% of the Palearctic population) is very incomplete. Also, data for Turkey is poor, where about 30% of the feldeggii population is thought to occur.
Lanner Falcon status Least Concern


Migratory in Russia, partially migratory further west. Probably only minority present within European breeding range in mid-winter, and generally absent from Russia north of Crimea and Caucasus. In central Mediterranean, some pass through Italy and winter in south. Also irregular visitor Malta (mainly late October to early December); occurs in Libya, status uncertain but possibly winter visitor to Cyrenaica, and seen occasionally in winter in Tunisia. Movement through Turkey (where local population perhaps resident) indicated by small numbers crossing Bosporus in autumn and spring, and by regular autumn passage (September-November) through Cyprus, where occasionally overwinters and small return movement March-April. Penetrates north-east Africa in some numbers, passing down Nile through Egypt to Sudan. Also occurs regularly in Ethiopia.
In Russia and western Siberia, leaves northern breeding areas late September and October, returning March and early April. In south-central Europe, where winter climate less severe, may be absent for much shorter periods: departures from Rumania in November, returning February-March; in east Slovakia, may return late February or early March and still be present in December or January.
The typical area visited by falcons around a colony is unknown yet, but definitely can extend more than 50 km away from the breeding site. The 1-2 year old birds do not breed and usually are absent in the colonies. They have been found as far away as 2500 km from their native colony in August (compare foot-note in Tab. 1). But on the other hand, the maximum distance
Falco eleonorae 10 proven for a young falcon to settle for nesting is only 5 km away from the nest where it was born while the vast majority settles within 500 m; breeding adults tend to stay in the same territory within a colony from year to year. It is this extreme site tenacity that will make a re-colonisation of a once abandoned colony unlikely.

Distribution map

Lanner Falcon distribution range map


Title Variation in the quality of parental care at falcon nests in South Africa as evidence for postulated differences in food availabi lity.
Author(s): Jenkins A.R . 2000
Abstract: Parental care by Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinu..[more]..
Source: Ardea, 88(1): 17-32

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Title International Action Plan for the Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus
Author(s): M. Gustin, G. Palumbo, & A. Corso
Abstract: The Lanner Falcon is classified as Endangered at t..[more]..
Source: BirdLife International, 1999

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