Lanner Falcon

Lanner Falcon
(Falco biarmicus)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Genus: Falco
Sub-genus: Hierofalco
Species: F. biarmicus

This is the classic Lanner of European Traditional falconry, and has been in use in falconry for more than a thousand years. The Lanner is thought to be one of the oldest existing species of heirofalcons. They are decended from an ancient lineage that became isolated in sub-Saharan Africa during the Riss glaciation, which was aproximately 200,000 to 130,000 years ago.

Distinguishing characteristics:

This is a medium sized, somewhat daintily built falcon that is slightly smaller than the Peregrine Falcon. It also has a slighter build. The Lanner Falcon is a generally a pale coloured desert species, similar in coloration and markings to the American Prairie Falcon; but with a reddish to pink patch of feathers on the back of its head. The malar stripe on the side of its face is very pronounced, and is aligned at an angle parallel to the birds spine instead of vertical as in the Peregrine.

Habitat and natural range:

The Lanner is native to the continent of Africa, particularily southern Africa; as well as parts of southeastern Europe, the Arabian Penninsula, and the Middle East.

Natural diet:

The Lanner is a bird feeder that preys upon a wide varity of avian prey, which is taken in flight. Well known prey species are Red Billed Queleas and Jackdaws. Lanners have even been known to hunt bats at dusk. They are very spirited and fast, agile flyers. The Lanner is a determined hunter, and will readily follow prey into the underbrush recklessly. Lanners stoop in a horizontal manner with a very flat tragectory, often quite close to the ground, and at horizontal speeds of close to 90 mph. Their hunting style is quite dramatic to witness, although distinctly different than the vertical stoop of the Peregrine.


Lanners are predominately cliff ledge nesters, making a shallow scrape in whatever loose material that is on the cliff ledge where their eggs are laid. However, they have also been known to nest on lower rocky outcrops, and even in the unused nests of vultures and two African crow species. The 3-4 eggs are usually laid in March to April, depending upon their range and the photoperiod. The eggs are mostly brown in colour, with a high degree of darker and lighter mottling. The eggs very cryptic and camouflaged in their nest, and pretty to behold, as they contain much detail. No two Lanner eggs are quite the same in appearance. Incubation is shared very evenly by both parents. Fledging occurs in about 6 weeks.

Notes on Captive propagation (at the Centre):

We have found Lanner falcons to be among the very best and dedicated parents of all falcons in captivity. They are extremely gentle and attentive parents, and make excellent foster parents. This is true even when they are in the midst of raising their own young. In an emergency situation, without hesitation and at a moments notice, they will accept and raise even huge young Gyrfalcons that are easily twice their own size. They will work hard all day at feeding any insatiable young falcon, regardless of how tattered and worn out they seem to get. We have witnessed parent lanners being completely bowled over by greedy young falcons grabbing prey from their beaks, and have seen them toppled from their nest ledge by such rude treatment by the youngsters. No matter! They will tirelessly continue on and take it all in stride as if nothing even happened. They will even drag prey that is far too large to be carried by flight to their nest ledges on foot, hopping and climbing to their ledge with it. They are marvellous to watch when nesting, as they will go to extremes to ensure that their young survive. However, they very sensitive to human disturbance.

Circumstances affecting Conservation:

Lanners, being at the top of the food pyramid; are well known to have had their numbers decimated by pesticide contamination. Breeding success in the wild has been compromised by the 'build up effect' of toxins within their bodies. Individual Lanner Falcons have been known to perish merely from eating a portion of a single contaminated bird. An entire population was completely wiped out in the central Transvaal in 1993 due to pesticide usage! This species population has been steadily decreasing in agricultural areas where it was once common. It is a species that is not well studied, and its status is not well documented in the wild. This is alarming, as it could easily become too late for this species in the wild if careful measures are not implemented to prevent its numbers from dwindling as they have been.


If you have found an injured bird of prey (hawk, falcon, owl, etc.), contact the Centre and our experienced staff can assist in determining what steps should be taken to ensure the bird receives the best possible care.



Telephone : +1 343 341 2730

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