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Saker Falcon
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Saker Falcon

Saker Falcon
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Falco cherrug
Gray, 1834
The Saker Falcon, (Falco cherrug), is a large bird of prey. This species breeds from central Europe eastwards across Asia to Manchuria. It is mainly migratory except in the southernmost parts of its range, wintering in Ethiopia, Arabia, northern India and western China.

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.

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 Lanner Falcon. It usually hunts by horizontal pursuit, rather than the Peregrine's stoop from a height, and takes mainly rodents with some birds.

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 latter tend to be a duller brown. The call is a sharp kiy-ee

Adults can be distinguished from the similar Lanner Falcon since that species 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 larger species.

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