Lanner Falcons: Deemed Pests and Food by Humans
The Lanner Falcon is one of the two main species of falcon, with the other being the more familiar peregrine. Lanner falcons are widespread throughout Africa, and are considered endangered only when a population in a particular area doesn’t exceed 200 nesting pairs. Their eggs are stolen by humans for food, and some people consider them pests as they compete for small game that hunters like to kill as well.
How Nikela Helps
Nikela supports the Bird of Prey Sanctuary in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. At the Sanctuary there is an animal hospital where a licensed animal rehabilitator, Ben Hoffman, is able to care for injured and sick Lanner falcons that are brought in. The Sanctuary also has a flying team, lead by Ben’s wife Shannon. The flying show features a beautiful Lanner falcon (named Chicken). By educating the public on the value of this noble bird, Nikela and the people on the front lines that we work with in Africa are hopeful that Lanner falcons can be around for a long time, and that people can get over their prejudice of the species and learn to live in harmony with them.
Information about Lanner Falcons
Distribution & habitat
Lanner falcons are resident birds in many types of areas, including coastal, river bank, semi-desert areas, and dry savannahs. However, they become more disperse after breeding season. They occupy territory in pairs. They are threatened by habitat loss, which reduces their hunting and breeding areas as well as its prey species, including small birds and mammals.
The Lanner Falcon is a small bird of prey, ranging in length from 43 – 50 cm. It has a wingspan of 95-105 cm. They are pale blue grey with their breast being streaked. Both males and females are similarly marked. Their beak is short and bent at the base and is greyish blue. Their tail is longer and their wings are less pointed than peregrine falcons. Their head cap is reddish with a white forehead.
Lanner falcons are of course excellent hunters. They target smaller birds such as larks and pigeons. They can also kill small mammals such as rabbits and if need be also hunt small reptiles such as lizards. They also feed on large insects such as grasshoppers.
Behavior and social groups
Lanner falcons, as with other birds of prey, are not social animals. They choose a mate and take up residency in an area, raising their young. They also hunt in pairs. Typically, the female acts like a ‘beater’, scaring prey out into the open. Then the male swoops down on the prey.
As parents, they don’t build nests usually, preferring to reuse other birds’ old nests. Females lay two to five eggs which both parents sit on alternatively for about 30-35 days. Their offspring fledge about 40 days after hatching.
Conservation status and threats
Lanner falcons on the African continent are not considered endangered, although their European cousins are.
However, several human activities pose immediate threats to Lanner falcons in Africa. These include eggs being stolen, either for food or to raise falcons to hunt for their human captor. Thus poaching is a population problem.
Another area of human/falcon conflict is in other species’ hunting. Lanner falcons are regularly poisoned or shot, particularly in areas where people hunt similar prey to the falcons, such as larks.
Lanner falcons are also threatened by habitat loss, which can reduce their hunting and breeding areas and have an impact on their prey species as well. Additionally, the use of pesticides may reduce prey and affect Lanner falcon’s breeding success.
Learn more about how Ben and Shannon Hoffman preserve Lanner Falcons via the rescue and rehabilitation of injured birds, plus the education and awareness provided via the flight shows. And of course, get to know Chicken.
Information researched and provided by Nikela Volunteer Megaen Kelly