Lanner falcon

The lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus) is a medium-sized bird of prey that breeds in Africa, southeast Europe and just into Asia. It prefers open habitat and is mainly resident, but some birds disperse more widely after the breeding season. A large falcon, it preys on birds and bats.[2]

Lanner falcon
Lanner Falcon 800
Adult Falco biarmicus feldeggi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Genus: Falco
Subgenus: Hierofalco
F. biarmicus
Binomial name
Falco biarmicus
Temminck, 1825

Falco feldeggii Schlegel, 1841
Falco lanarius Linnaeus, 1758


The lanner falcon was described by the Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck in 1825 under the current binomial name Falco biarmicus.[3] The type locality is Caffraria and the Cape of Good Hope.[4] Falco is Late Latin for a "falcon", from falx, falcis "sickle". The Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus had used the specific epithet biarmicus for the bearded reedling and Temminck clearly believed that the word meant "bearded" but it is likely that Linnaeus was using the Latinized form for Bjarmaland, a district in northern Russia.[5] The English word "lanner" is believed to come from the Old French lanier meaning "cowardly". The first recorded use of the word in English is from around 1400.[6]

This is presumably the oldest living hierofalcon species. Support for this assumption comes mainly from biogeography agreeing better with the confusing pattern of DNA sequence data in this case than in others. Nonetheless, there is rampant hybridization (see also perilanner) and incomplete lineage sorting which confounds the data to a massive extent; molecular studies with small sample sizes can simply not be expected to yield reliable conclusions in the entire hierofalcon group.

In any case, the radiation of the entire living diversity of hierofalcons seems to have taken place in the Eemian interglacial at the start of the Late Pleistocene, a mere 130,000–115,000 years ago; the lanner falcons would thus represent the lineage that became isolated in sub-Saharan Africa at some time during the Riss glaciation (200,000 to 130,000 years ago) already.[7][8][9][10]

There are five recognised subspecies:[11]

  • F. b. biarmicus Temminck, 1825 – The nominate subspecies, ranges from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to southern Kenya south to South Africa
  • F. b. feldeggii Schlegel, 1843 – Italy to Turkey, Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran
  • F. b. tanypterus Schlegel, 1843 – northeastern Africa to Arabia, Israel and Iraq
  • F. b. erlangeri Kleinschmidt, O., 1901 – northwestern Africa
  • F. b. abyssinicus Neumann, 1904 – southern Mauritania to Ethiopia and Somalia south to Cameroon and northern Kenya


Falco biarmicus -near Tugela Ferry, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa -flying-8a
Flying in South Africa
Falco biarmicus MWNH 0677
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

It is a large falcon, at 43–50 cm (17–20 in) length with a wingspan of 95–105 cm (37–41 in). European lanner falcons (Falco biarmicus feldeggi, also called Feldegg's falcon) have slate grey or brown-grey upperparts; most African subspecies are a paler blue grey above. The breast is streaked in northern birds, resembling greyish saker falcons, but the lanner has a reddish back to the head. Sexes are similar, but the browner young birds resemble saker falcons even more. However, sakers have a lighter top of the head and less clear head-side patterns. The lanner's call is a harsh "wray-e".

Distribution and habitat

The lanner falcon is a bird of open country and savanna. It usually hunts by horizontal pursuit, rather than the peregrine falcon's stoop from a height, and takes mainly bird prey in flight. It lays three to four eggs on a cliff ledge nest, or occasionally in an old stick nest in a tree.

They are bred in captivity for falconry; hybrids with the peregrine ("perilanners") are also often seen. Merret (1666) claimed that the "lanar" lived in Sherwood Forest and the Forest of Dean in England; such populations would seem to have derived from escaped hunting birds of the nobility.[12]

In the wild, lanner falcon numbers are somewhat declining in Europe, though the species remains relatively common in parts of Africa. In the Degua Tembien mountains of Ethiopia, it was observed to contribute to controlling pest rodents.[13]

Jackdaw flocks are targets of coordinated hunting by pairs of lanner falcons, although larger flocks are more able to elude becoming prey.[14] In Africa and Israel, lanner falcons were observed as hunting bats.[15]


Falco biarmicus01

Painting by John Gerrard Keulemans (1884)

Lanner Falcon RWD

Lanner falcon at Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

Falco biarmicus Etosha

Adult Falco biarmicus biarmicus, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

Falco biarmicus dive

A falconer's lanner in a dive. Note distinct head coloration.

Falco biarmicus 001

Juvenile, probably F. b. feldeggi. Note blue facial skin and overall similarity to saker falcon.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2013). "Falco biarmicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Mikula, P.; Morelli, F.; Lučan, R. K.; Jones, D. N.; Tryjanowski, P. (2016). "Bats as prey of diurnal birds: a global perspective". Mammal Review. doi:10.1111/mam.12060.
  3. ^ Temminck, Coenraad Jacob (1825). Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d'oiseaux, pour servir de suite et de complément aux planches enluminées de Buffon (in French). Volume 1. Paris: F.G. Levrault. Plate 324. The 5 volumes were originally issued in 102 parts, 1820-1839
  4. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1979). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 419.
  5. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 71, 151. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  6. ^ "lanner". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ Helbig, A.J.; Seibold, I.; Bednarek, W.; Brüning, H.; Gaucher, P.; Ristow, D.; Scharlau, W.; Schmidl, D.; Wink, Michael (1994). Meyburg, B.-U.; Chancellor, R.D. (eds.). Phylogenetic relationships among falcon species (genus Falco) according to DNA sequence variation of the cytochrome b gene (PDF). Raptor conservation today. pp. 593–599.
  8. ^ Wink, Michael; Seibold, I.; Lotfikhah, F.; Bednarek, W. (1998). Chancellor, R.D.; Meyburg, B.-U.; Ferrero, J.J. (eds.). Molecular systematics of holarctic raptors (Order Falconiformes) (PDF). Holarctic Birds of Prey. Adenex & WWGBP. pp. 29–48.
  9. ^ Nittinger, F.; Haring, E.; Pinsker, W.; Wink, Michael; Gamauf, A. (2005). "Out of Africa? Phylogenetic relationships between Falco biarmicus and other hierofalcons (Aves Falconidae)" (PDF). Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. 43 (4): 321–331. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0469.2005.00326.x.
  10. ^ Wink, Michael; Sauer-Gürth, Hedi; Ellis, David; Kenward, Robert (2004). Chancellor, R.D.; Meyburg, B.-U. (eds.). Phylogenetic relationships in the Hierofalco complex (Saker-, Gyr-, Lanner-, Laggar Falcon) (PDF). Raptors Worldwide. Berlin: WWGBP. pp. 499–504.
  11. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Falcons". World Bird List Version 7.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  12. ^ Merret, Christopher (1666). Pinax rerum naturalium Britannicarum continens vegetabilia, animalia et fossilia, in hac insula reperta inchoatus (in Latin). London: Pulleyn and F. & T. Warren.
  13. ^ Meheretu Yonas; Leirs, H (2019). Raptor perch sites for biological control of agricultural pest rodents. In: Nyssen J., Jacob, M., Frankl, A. (Eds.). Geo-trekking in Ethiopia’s Tropical Mountains - The Dogu’a Tembien District. SpringerNature. ISBN 978-3-030-04954-6.
  14. ^ Leonardi, Giovanni (1999). "Cooperative hunting of Jackdaws by the Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)" (PDF). Journal of Raptor Research. 33 (2): 123–127.
  15. ^ Mikula, P.; Morelli, F.; Lučan, R. K.; Jones, D. N.; Tryjanowski, P. (2016). "Bats as prey of diurnal birds: a global perspective". Mammal Review. doi:10.1111/mam.12060.

External links

African goshawk

The African goshawk (Accipiter tachiro) is a species of African bird of prey in the genus Accipiter which is the type genus of the family Accipitridae.


An avivore is a specialized predator of birds, with birds making up a large proportion of its diet. Such bird-eating animals come from a range of groups.

Caryospora (alveolate)

Caryospora is a genus of parasitic protozoa in the phylum Apicomplexa. The species in this genus infect birds and reptiles with the majority of described species infecting snakes. It is the third largest genus in the family Eimeriidae.

Despite the number of species in this genus, it has not been much studied.

Christoph Feldegg

Baron Christoph Freiherr Fellner von Feldegg (13 October 1779 – 10 May 1845, Leipzig) was an Austrian army officer and naturalist.

Fellner was born in a noble family in Krumau, Bohemia, where his father was a princely forester in Schwarzenberg. Fellner went to a military academy in Vienna and in 1808, became a sub-lieutenant in an army battalion and fought in the Battle of Aspern-Essling under Archduke Karl. He also served in the Regiment de Vaux in 1813 where he distinguished himself. In 1815 he was knighted in the Military Order of Maria Theresa. Feldegg fought in the Napoleonic wars and in recognition of his many gallant deeds was created a Baron in 1817. He served in Dalmatia, eventually becoming Colonel and Commanding Officer of the 6th Battalion of Chaseurs.Feldegg took a special interest in the birds of Dalmatia and accumulated a large collection of natural history specimens. He was a correspondent of C. L. Brehm, John Gould and Hermann Schlegel, and served for a time with the ornithologist Dr Karl Michahelles. His collection was donated to the Natural History Museum in Prague.Feldegg had a number of birds named after him, including a subspecies of the Lanner falcon Falco biarmicus feldeggi and the black-headed wagtail, Motacilla flava feldegg, the Balkan and Black Sea sub-species of the yellow wagtail.

Falcon College

Falcon College (or simply Falcon) is an independent boarding school for boys and girls aged 12–18 in the southern Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe. It was founded in 1954 near Essexvale, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now Esigodini, Zimbabwe), 55 km southeast of Bulawayo on the remains of the Bushtick Mine. The college's graduates include a British member of parliament, surgeons and doctors, leaders of industry and commerce, soldiers and educators.

The college has 40 km² of Matabeleland bush, 10 km² approximately is game fenced and houses Quiet Waters game park. The park contains examples of most of Zimbabwe’s plains game species, including zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala, tssessebe, bushbuck and warthog. The campus is surrounded by an electric fence (a reminder of the bush war of pre-1980). An air strip is nearby.

The school's motto is Sic itur ad astra and the school badge is a representation of a Lanner Falcon designed by the wife of a former Headmaster.

Falcon College was ranked as one of the Top 10 High Schools in Zimbabwe in 2014.Falcon College is a member of the Association of Trust Schools (ATS) and the Headmaster is a member of the Conference of Heads of Independent Schools in Zimbabwe (CHISZ).In December 2015 Falcon became a coeducational school accepting girls in January 2016.

Fir of Hotovë-Dangelli National Park

The Fir of Hotovë-Dangelli National Park (Albanian: Parku Kombëtar "Bredhi i Hotovës-Dangëlli") is the largest national park in Albania located in Gjirokastër County with a surface area of 34,361 ha (343.61 km2). The park takes its name from the Hotova Fir, which is considered one of the most important Mediterranean plant relics of the country. Although, it encompasses of hilly and mountainous terrain composed of limestone and sandstone deposits, with numerous valleys, canyons, gorges, rivers and dense deciduous and coniferous forests. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the park as Category II. The park also includes 11 natural monuments.

The park rises over a very remote mountainous region of Nemërçka and Tomorr between the Vjosa Valley in the west, Leskovik in the south, Erseka in the southeast and the Osum Valley in the northeast. Close to Petran is the narrow and deep Lengarica Canyon with numerous caves and thermal springs such as Banjat e Bënjës. Within the boundaries of the park there are numerous villages including Frashër, which is well known located in the heart of the park. In terms of hydrology, Vjosa is the main river forming the western bound of the park, flowing through Përmet until discharging into the Adriatic Sea.The park experiences mediterranean climate with moderate rainy winters and dry, warm to hot summers. During winter, visitors can appreciate the snow blanket covering the firs, and in the summer the abundance of fresh air away as an escape from the Albanian summer heat. Its mean monthly temperature ranges between 3 °C (37 °F) in January and 30 °C (86 °F) in August with annual precipitation ranging between 500 millimetres (20 inches) and 1,800 millimetres (71 inches) depending on geographic region and prevailing climate type.Due to its favorable ecological conditions and the mosaic distribution of various types of habitats, it is characterized by exceptionally rich and varied fauna. The forests are the most important habitats for mammals like wild cat, roe deer, wild boar, red squirrel, eurasian otter and badger. Brown bear, gray wolf and red fox can also be seen on the pastures deep inside the forest. The old growing trees throughout the park preserves a wide variety of bird species. Most notable amongst them are the golden eagle, eagle owl, barn owl, sparrowhawk, egyptian vulture, kestrel, lanner falcon and so on.

Hawane Nature Reserve

Hawane Nature Reserve was first established in 1978 to protect an area of marsh along the Mbuluzi River in Eswatini. This area included the natural habitat of Kniphofia umbrina, a rare Swaziland endemic red hot poker. When the Hawane dam was built in 1988 to provide Mbabane's water supply, the reserve was expanded to protect the surrounding wetlands. The reserve is managed by the Swaziland National Trust Commission.

The reserve's main attraction is its wealth of birdlife. A trail is provided for bird-watching. Bird species include lanner falcon, egyptian goose, pied kingfisher and white-faced whistling duck.


The hierofalcons are four closely related species of falcon which make up the subgenus Hierofalco:

Lanner falcon, Falco biarmicus

Laggar falcon, Falco jugger

Saker falcon, Falco cherrug

Gyrfalcon, Falco rusticolusThe black falcon of Australia is occasionally considered allied to the hierofalcons: indeed it seems fairly close to them (Wink et al. 2004).

They represent members of their genus which are similar to species like the peregrine falcon in outward appearance, but usually with more phaeomelanins which impart reddish or brown colors, and generally more strongly patterned plumage reminiscent of hawks. Their undersides usually have a lengthwise pattern of dark blotches, lines or arrowhead marks. They hunt usually in level flight, more like goshawks than peregrines with their dive attack or hobbies with their acrobatic pursuits.

Recent DNA sequence data studies have confirmed that the hierofalcons are a monophyletic group—and, incidentally, that hybridization runs rampant in the present species complex. Initial results of mtDNA cytochrome b sequence analyses that suggested they are basal among all living falcons were in error, due to a numt (Wink & Sauer-Gürth 2000). The biogeographically entirely distinct prairie falcon was sometimes placed with the hierofalcons due to its similar coloration; it is now considered not to belong in this subgenus, the similarities being the result of convergent evolution in adaptation to similar habitat.

The hierofalcon lineage as such seems of Late Pliocene origin, maybe as old as the "typical" kestrels (Gelasian, some 2.5–2 million years ago), maybe somewhat older, though little is known about their fossil history. It seems to have originated in Africa or adjacent regions but apparently became nearly extinct in the past: the present hierofalcon diversity is of rather recent origin, presumably not older than the Eemian interglacial (about 130,000–115,000 years ago) at the start of the Late Pleistocene; only one of the hierofalcon species that presumably diverged between the Pliocene and the Middle Pleistocene has left any living descendants. The lanner falcon appears to be the most phylogenetically most ancient species (mainly judging from biogeography); the others diverged—apparently out of a population isolated in northeastern Africa some time during the Riss glaciation 200,000 to 130,000 years ago—in a brief and rapid bout of evolution. DNA sequence data analyses in this group suffers from the extensive hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting confounding the data, and studies with small sample sizes can by no means be considered reliable. Sometimes, all hierofalcons are lumped into one species, Falco hierofalco.Possible examples of such extinct hierofalcon lineages include Falco bakalovi occurring from the Early Pliocene of Bulgaria to Early Pleistocene of Spain and the Czech Republic and Falco antiquus known from the Middle Pleistocene of Noailles (France) and possibly Hór-völgy (Hungary).Their name may mean "sacred falcon" (Greek ἱερος = "sacred") or "hawk-falcon" (Greek ἱεραξ = "hawk", but with a Greek error: the correct combining form of ἱεραξ is "hieraco-").


Horus is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities who served many functions, most notably god of kingship and the sky. He was worshipped from at least the late prehistoric Egypt until the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman Egypt. Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egyptologists. These various forms may possibly be different manifestations of the same multi-layered deity in which certain attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasized, not necessarily in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality. He was most often depicted as a falcon, most likely a lanner falcon or peregrine falcon, or as a man with a falcon head.The earliest recorded form of Horus is the tutelary deity of Nekhen in Upper Egypt, who is the first known national god, specifically related to the ruling pharaoh who in time came to be regarded as a manifestation of Horus in life and Osiris in death. The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris, and he plays a key role in the Osiris myth as Osiris's heir and the rival to Set, the murderer of Osiris. In another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife.

Laggar falcon

The laggar falcon (Falco jugger) is a mid-sized bird of prey which occurs in the Indian subcontinent from extreme southeastern Iran, southeastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, through India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and northwestern Myanmar.

It resembles the lanner falcon but is darker overall, and has blackish "trousers" (tibiotarsus feathers). Fledglings have an almost entirely dark underside, and first-year subadult birds still retain much dark on the belly.

This species belongs to a close-knit complex of falcons known as hierofalcons. In this group, there is ample evidence for rampant hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting which confounds analyses of DNA sequence data to a massive extent; molecular studies with small sample sizes can simply not be expected to yield reliable conclusions in the entire hierofalcon group. The radiation of the entire living diversity of hierofalcons seems to have taken place in the Eemian interglacial at the start of the Late Pleistocene, a mere 130,000-115,000 years ago; the laggar falcon represents a lineage that arrived at its present range out of eastern Africa by way of the Arabian Peninsula which during that time had a more humid climate than today.

Laggar falcons used to be the most common falcons in the region, but numbers have declined markedly in recent times and today it is probably nowhere a common species anymore. The main threats are the intensification of pesticide use in the region and use as a decoy to trap large falcons.

Namaqua sandgrouse

The Namaqua sandgrouse (Pterocles namaqua), is a species of ground-dwelling bird in the sandgrouse family. It is found in arid regions of south-western Africa.

Noravank Important Bird Area

Noravank Important Bird Area is a 14,002-hectare (34,600-acre) region of Armenia designated as worthy of conservation for its avifauna, by BirdLife International, as an "Important Bird Area" (IBA), with the main aim of protecting bird species and habitats. Within Armenia, it is also known as the "Gnishik Protected Landscape".The IBA sits at the slopes of the Vayots Dzor mountains, and includes riparian shrubland, semi-desert, juniper woodland, arid mountain steppe and mesophilic meadow habitats.100 breeding species and 46 migratory or wintering species of birds have been recorded.A caretaker employed at the IBA has worked with the eponymous monastery, Noravank, to set up a feeding station for cinereous vultures.Other species recorded at the IBA include short-toed eagle, golden eagle, bearded vulture, Egyptian vulture, Eurasian eagle owl, lanner falcon, semi-collared flycatcher, European roller, chukar, white stork, Levant sparrowhawk, and, on passage, pallid harrier, lesser kestrel and greater spotted eagle.The area was designated as an IBA in 2002. It is one of eighteen Important Bird Areas in Armenia.


Perilanner is a term used by falconers to describe a hybrid between a peregrine falcon and a lanner falcon. It is larger and faster than a lanner, but does not fly as far as a peregrine, and thus is less likely to fly far away and become lost. Usually the peregrine is the father and the lanner is the mother. Perilanners are a popular choice for modern falconers.

Their flying range is between that of a lanner and that of a peregrine and makes them useful in keeping an airport clear of wild birds to prevent birdstrike.

Pollino National Park

Pollino National Park (Italian: Parco Nazionale del Pollino) is a national park in southern Italy that straddles the regions of Basilicata and Calabria. It is Italy's largest national park, covering 1,925.65 square kilometers.The park includes the Pollino and Orsomarso massifs, which are part of the southern Apennine Mountains. The park's highest point is Serra Dolcedorme, which is 2,267 meters high.The park's symbol is the rare Bosnian pine tree. The common beech is the park's most prevalent tree. The park is also home to a variety of medicinal herbs.The park is home of the oldest Europeen tree, a Heldreich's pine estimated 1,230 years old. Towns with interesting sights include Rotonda, Castrovillari, Morano Calabro (convent of Colloreto), Laino Castello, Mormanno, Scalea, Papasidero, Civita, Cerchiara (church of Madonna delle Armi). Albanian-speaking communities are present in communes such as San Paolo Albanese, San Costantino Albanese and others. In the Valle del Mercure have been discovered remains of pre-historic species such as Elephas antiquus and Hippopotamus major.

Rivers and streams include the Lao, Sinni, Coscile, Garga, and Raganello.

Wildlife include golden eagle, Italian wolf, roe deer, black woodpecker, chough, peregrine falcon, red kite, lanner falcon, Dryomys nitedula, Egyptian vulture, European otter and deer

Saker falcon

The saker falcon (Falco cherrug) is a large species of falcon. This species breeds from central Europe eastwards across Asia to Manchuria. It is mainly migratory except in the southernmost parts of its range, wintering in Ethiopia, the Arabian peninsula, northern Pakistan and western China.

Taita falcon

The Taita falcon (Falco fasciinucha) is a small falcon found in central and eastern Africa. It was first described from the Taita Hills of Kenya from which it derives its name.


Urtsadzor (Armenian: Ուրցաձոր), is a village in the Ararat Province of Armenia, containing the former village of Chimankend.

Zambezi National Park

Zambezi National Park is a national park located upstream from Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. It was split off from Victoria Falls National Park in 1979 and is 56,000 hectares (140,000 acres) in size. The park is bisected by a road to Kazungula, dividing it into a riverine side and a Chamabonda Vlei side. Most of the park is within the ecoregion of Zambezian and Mopane woodlands, while a small portion in the south is within the Zambezian Baikiaea woodlands.


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