A lanner falcon, scientifically known as Falco biarmicus, is a large bird that is usually gray, brown, or blue-gray in color. It can be found in southeast Europe, Africa, and some parts of Asia. Unlike some birds, this falcon prefers land free of trees and other obstacles, so it normally hunts in savannas and open country. Lanner falcons tend to hunt in pairs, which is unusual for birds. This bird is regularly kept in captivity for falconry or hawking, a sport where a trained bird of prey hunts game for humans.
This species of bird can be found on the coast, mountains, and in deserts, depending on the country. It is primarily an African bird, however, which is where their population is the most numerous. In European countries, its population is declining because of people illegally shooting them, stealing eggs for collection, or capturing young birds for falconry. Recreational mountain climbers are also known to accidentally disturb the birds during mating season.
While the birds are mostly gray on their upper parts, this color is often tinged with dark brown or blue. Their throats, bellies, and breasts are usually a lighter color, such as cream, tawny, or beige. A distinguishing characteristic are the reddish feathers on the back of their heads. The lanner falcon’s wingspan can reach up to 3.5 feet (1 m), while the bird itself is around 1.5 feet (0.5 m) long.
A lanner falcon usually does not mate until it is at least two years old. Before laying her eggs, the female falcon will find another bird’s nest to give birth in, because all falcons, including the lanner falcon, do not make nests of their own. Each female normally lays three to four eggs; five eggs is rare but possible. The eggs usually hatch after slightly more than one month, and the babies depend on their mother for about three months before leaving the nest permanently.
In captivity, this type of bird is primarily bred for hunting smaller birds. The bird can be trained to chase pigeons and other small birds to control the population of surrounding areas. It is illegal to own a lanner falcon in some jurisdictions, however, especially in countries where their population is declining due to falconry. Certain countries prohibit potential falconers from owning a falcon if they do not have training and a license. In captivity, this type of falcon can live up to 17 years.