Scientific Name: Falco biarmicus
Habitat: It generally favours open grassland, cleared or open woodland and agricultural land. While breeding it is most common around cliffs used as nesting and roost sites, although it may also use buildings, electricity pylons and trees.
Distribution: Occurs in southern and south-eastern Europe, the Middle East, south-western Asia and much of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the lowland forests of the DRC and West Africa. In southern Africa it is fairly common across the region, largely excluding Mozambique.
Diet: It eats mainly birds, especially doves, pigeons and chickens, hunting using extreme speed to surprise its prey. It often hunts from a high perch or while soaring high up in the air, making a steep and rapid dive to intercept a bird either aerially or on the ground. It often hunts in pairs (see photo below), enabling them to catch large or highly illusive prey.
Monogamous territorial solitary nester, probably with a long pair bond, although a nest was once recorded to have two males and one female attending it, suggesting polyandry.
The nest is typically a simple scrape in sand or soil on a cliff ledge or is placed in another structure such as a building or nest box. It may also use the stick nest of another bird such as a White-necked raven, Verreaux’s eagle or Bateleur, sometimes displacing them while they are breeding and possibly killing their chicks in the process. As these stick nests are often on utility pylons and poles, Lanner falcons have been able to colonise treeless areas where they have not previously occurred.
Egg-laying season is from late May to early September.
It lays 1-5 eggs, which are incubated mainly by the female for about 32 days, starting with the egg laid last or second last.
The chicks are brooded constantly by the female for the first few days of their lives, after which they are brooded intermittently for about 1-2 weeks. Even then the female still remains close to the nest, relying on the male to do most of the hunting. The young eventually leave the nest at 42-45 days old, becoming fully independent about 1-3 months later.