Lanner falcon

The lanner falcon, Falco biarmicus, is a medium-sized raptor with a very wide distribution, from the Mediterranean to the Middle East and Africa. Of the five recognized subspecies, only feldeggii is found in Europe, where it is restricted to the Mediterranean area. This falcon is listed in Annex I of the EU Birds Directive and classified as a Species of European Conservation Concern (SPEC Level 3). It is also listed in Appendix II of the Bonn Convention, Annex II of the Bern Convention, and Appendix II of CITES.

As in most European raptors, female lanner falcons are significantly larger than the males.It can be confused with the peregrine falcon, but the smaller size, less powerful body, and reddish crown help to distinguish it. The species name biarmicus, sometimes said to refer to the two facial stripes, is ultimately a geographic term.

  1. b. feldeggii inhabits open areas such as pastureland, steppe, uncultivated fields, and desert. Pairs begin spectacular aerial displays in December; the eggs are laid on high cliff ledges in February or March. Fast and powerful hunters, lanners prey mostly on birds, including ducks, magpies, jays, and pigeons, but they also take small mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates.

This species is sedentary, undertaking local movements depending on weather conditions and food supply. Juveniles can be nomadic.

Italy, at the northern limit of the subspecies’ breeding range, hosts the largest population of feldeggii, at about 60 breeding pairs. The greatest concentration is in Sicily.

These dashing birds have always been particularly vulnerable to direct persecution, electrocution, collision, habitat loss, and pesticides. Eggs and chicks are still taken from the wild for falconry. Despite its protected status, the entire European population is declining, and the species is believed to be one of the rarest raptors on the continent.

To learn more about the lanner’s distribution and movements, in 2020 the EU’s Life Program financed a five-year project at Lago di Vico Nature Reserve, in the Lazio region. The Life Lanner project,, hopes to increase the population in Italy by releasing a large number of young lanners into the wild, along with monitoring and protecting breeding pairs from poachers. The project will also restore some 300 acres of natural and semi-natural grassland as hunting areas and create potential nesting sites on rocky cliffs.