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Saker Falcon

Falco cherrug (Gray, 1834)

Обыкновенный балобан | Ителгі

2007-08-08
Ushsart village, Akmola district
© Maxim Koshkin

Distribution

Breeds in steppe and forest-steppe zonas of northern Kazakhstan, and also on Mangyshlak and in mountains of south and south-east of Kazakhstan. On migration occurs everywhere, winters in foothills of Altai and Tien Shan. Please see detailed distribution in Kazakhstan in the section Subspecies.

Biology

In previous years the Saker Falcon was common but at the present time due to uncontrolled capture Falcons from the wildlife during the past 10 years by the Arab poachers and their helpers from Kazakhstan the Saker Falcon became the rare breeding bird. Inhabits the steppes and deserts in areas with presence of the individual trees or groves, power lines, geodesic towers; also in canyons, river precipices, rocky outcrops, and gorges in mountains. The proximity of habitats of a large number of rodents and birds which are containing the main food of Saker Falcon is a necessary condition for nesting both in plains and in mountains. In breeding areas appears from February to April. Breeds in separate pairs at least 300-400 m (usually 1-10 km and more) apart, mostly in old nests of other birds of prey (Long-legged Buzzard, Black Kite, Imperial Eagle) and crows; nest may be placed on the tree, on rock or pole. One nest is used some years, but if there is no shortage of suitable for breeding nests, the nests are rotated every year. Laying of 2-6 (usually 3-4) eggs is from end of March to May. Only female incubates for 30 days, male bring the food to female and to nestlings in first time. Chicks hatch from early May to early June. Both parents feed juveniles which fledge at age 45 days old, in end May – July. Autumn migration begins in the end of August – September. At Chokpak Pass two waves of migration were registered, from 1 to 20 September and from 6 to 30 October. In small numbers Saker Falcons winters in foothills of Tien Shan, in Zaysan depression, in Ile valley, near Syrdarya and in Betpak-Dala. On Chardara reservoir three birds recorded in December 18-21 2003.

Subspecies

Falco cherrug cherrug (Gray, 1834)

    Description. Upper parts are brown with buffy-reddish edges of feathers. Upper tail coverts are brownish. Crown is lighter than mantle, greyish-buff with dark streaks. "Moustaches" are slightly faint. Tail feathers are brown with pale transverse spots and whitish terminal edges. Under parts are pale buffy-tinged with dark streaks or drop-shaped spots. Flanks, leg-feathers and under tail covers are without cross pattern.
    Distribution. Breeds in forest steppe zone from Ural valley eastward to Altai, in places lives in northern part of deserts.

Falco cherrug saceroides (Bianchi, 1907)

    Description. Upper parts are brownish in buffy-reddish spots formed the barring pattern. Upper tail coverts are light bluish-grey. Crown is lighter than mantle, pale-rufous dark-streaked. Under parts are whitish buffy-tinged with rare streaks. Flanks and leg-feathers have rudimentary streaking but without prominent pattern.
    Distribution. Probably breeds in Altai, in winter occurs in south-eastern Kazakhstan. Probably birds nesting in Eastern Tien Shan relate to this race.

Falco cherrug milvipes (Jerdon, 1871)

    Description. Upper parts are brownish with regular pale bars. Head is lighter than mantle. On flanks and leg-feathers the cross pattern is formed by dark spots and streaks.
    Distribution. Occurs in winter in spurs and wide valleys of Tien Shan. Probably birds of this race recorded on Markakol lake.

Falco cherrug coatsi (Dementiev, 1945)

    Description. General colour brighter than in previous races. Crown with brick-reddish tinge. Upper parts are dark-brownish with red-rufous edges of feather, and with greyish tinge which is especially intensive on upper tail coverts and on rump. Mantle and wings are with pale bars pattern.
    Distribution. Breeds in south Kazakhstan, at Darbaza station, in Karatau ridge and in foothills of Western Tien Shan.

Falco cherrug aralocaspius (Kleinschmidt, 1939)

    Description. General colour of upper parts is pale, brownish; mantle is with pale-bars pattern. Upper tail coverts are with bluish-grey tinge which is more expressed at males. Legs are dark-streaked.
    Distribution. Breeds in Mangyshlak.

Falco (cherrug) altaicus (Menzbier, 1892)

    Description. It’s a large and very interesting falcon which combines features of the northern Gyrfalcon and Saker. For this reason the different researchers at different times referred Altai Falcon to full species, then to the subspecies of Saker or Gyrfalcon, then to the color morph of Saker, then to natural hybrid of the northern Gyrfalcon with Saker. Plumage color and pattern, and the features of flight and life of the Altai Falcon largely fit to the northern Gyrfalcon, on which these birds differ by less weight and slimmer structure of the feet and beak. The typical Altai Falcons are dark-brown with a bluish tinge on the mantle and upper tail coverts. In the early twentieth century this color morph was predominant, whereas at present time most of the population of birds are gray and bluish-gray. From Saker the Altai Falcon is distinguished by the general dark or gray color, the dark head and the striated pattern on the body-flanks and ‘trousers’. Extremely rare in the population of the Altai Falcons found the specimens of white morph similar to white morph Gyrfalcons. Altai Falcon are capable of forming the pairs with Saker and give the ready to reproduce offspring.
    Distribution. Breeds in highlands of Altai, Tarbagatay and probably Tien Shan. Migration areas and wintering places are not explored.

References

Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. В.К.Рябицев. "Птицы Урала, Приуралья и Западной Сибири". Екатеринбург. Изд-во Уральского университета, 2000.

supplement

subspecies

Falco cherrug cherrug
(Gray, 1834)
information gallery
Falco cherrug saceroides
(Bianchi, 1907)
information gallery
Falco cherrug milvipes
(Jerdon, 1871)
information gallery
Falco cherrug coatsi
(Dementiev, 1945)
Falco cherrug aralocaspius
(Kleinschmidt, 1939)
information gallery
Falco (cherrug) altaicus
(Menzbier, 1892)
information gallery

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