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Saker Falcon

Saker Falcon
Photo Information
Copyright: Mark Oxley (MojoUK) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 65 W: 7 N: 328] (1479)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-08-03
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 20D, Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS USM, Digital ISO 400
Exposure: f/6.3, 1/500 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2006-08-07 16:42
Viewed: 4262
Points: 8
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) is a large falcon. This species breeds from eastern 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 India and western China. Its male is called a sakret.

It is a bird of open grassland with some trees. It lays 3-6 eggs on the ground or in an old stick nest in a tree. Both sexes incubate for about 28 days.

The Saker Falcon is a very large falcon, almost as large as Gyr Falcon at 47-55cm length with a wingspan of 105-129cm. Its broad blunt wings give it a silhouette similar to Gyr, but its plumage is more similar to a Lanner Falcon's. It usually hunts by horizontal pursuit, rather than the Peregrine's stoop from a height, and takes mainly rodents with some birds.

Saker Falcons at the northeast edge of the range in the Altay Mountains are slightly larger, and darker and more heavily spotted on the underparts than other populations. These, known as the Altai Falcon, have been treated in the past either as a distinct species "Falco altaicus" or as a hybrid between Saker Falcon and Gyr Falcon, but modern opinion (e.g. del Hoyo et al. 1994) is to treat it as a form of Saker Falcon.

Saker Falcons have brown upperparts and contrasting grey flight feathers. The head and underparts are paler brown, with streaking from the breast down. Sexes are similar, as are young birds, although the young tend to be a duller brown. The call is a sharp "kiy-ee".

Adults can be distinguished from the similar Lanner Falcon since the Lanner is blue-grey above with a whitish belly. However, juveniles of the two species can be very similar although the Lanner never shows the all-dark thighs of the Saker.

A further complication is that some Asian birds have grey barred upperparts; these must be separated from Lanner on size, structure, and a weaker moustache stripe.

In 2004 BirdLife International categorised this bird as endangered, due to a rapid population decline, particularly on the central Asian breeding grounds. The main cause of the decline is due to birds being captured, usually illegally, for falconry. The current population was estimated to be between 7,200 and 8,800.

Taken handheld at the Hawk Conservancy Centre in Hampshire, England.

Alain_cdn, blakitan has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello Mark

Congrats on a very good picture. I like the he is looking at you.

Framing works good here.


  • Great 
  • jossim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1538 W: 5 N: 2240] (12636)
  • [2006-08-07 20:56]

Bonjour Mark!

Bravo pour la netteté le sujet est bien arrêté et l'action de l'oiseau avec le cec grand ouvert est très particulié.

Hi Mark,
Superb close up picture of this falcon. Greatly captured, nice pose of the bird. Sharp, clear, with nice details. Nice blurry BG. Great shot.

Ben Lakitan

  • Great 
  • Sayre Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 44 W: 2 N: 30] (164)
  • [2007-09-18 20:37]

This is an incredible shot! I know from experience that falcons are NOT easy subjects to take pictures of -- even when they are "working" falcons.

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