Our Beautiful World

Falcons, Falco........Page 2.
page 1

Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo
Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus (canariensis)

Merlin, Falco columbarius
Red-footed Falcon, Falco vespertinus

Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus
© http://www.ecosystema.ru/

The Kestrel is the commonest daytime raptor in Europe.
It is found throughout most of temperate and tropical Europe, Asia and Africa.

© Arthur Grosset

It has adapted to a wide variety of habitats but prefers shrubby, more open country provided there are trees,
telegraph poles, buildings, etc. on which it can roost.

It seems to have benefited from the building of Motorways whose verges provide a very good habitat for the voles which constitute the bulk of the Kestrel's diet in Europe.
Its hunting technique involves hovering, sometimes at several levels moving closer to the ground,
then pouncing on its prey.

© Arthur Grosset
The male has a grey head and tail while the female show a brown head and has a barred tail.

Nest with eggs, and Kestrel with a rat (?)
© www.ecosystema.ru/

On the Island of La Gomera, Canary Islands, It came every day just below our apartment,
and it wasn't alone either,at a time as many as 5 of them flew around there.

ARKive video - Kestrel hovering while hunting for prey

Kestrel hovering while hunting for prey
BBC Natural History Unit


It took some time to get acquainted to their sound, as they were not only making cries when they flew,
but it seemed like they already had begun their flirtation - and then the sound was different.
We believe this to be the Falco tinnunculus canariensis,
or just Kestrel or Tornfalk in plain english

The two pictures from La Gomera, Canary Islands
: © www.vulkaner.no

Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo

© http://www.ecosystema.ru/

Falco subbuteo in Kadzidlowo. Ausust 2007
Photo: Lilly M, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Falco_subbuteo_from_Kadzidlowo.jpg

The Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo, or just simply Hobby, is a small slim falcon. It belongs to a rather
close-knit group of similar falcons often considered a subgenus Hypotriorchis.

Its speed and aerobatic skills enable it to take swallows and even swifts on the wing, and Barn Swallows or
House Martins have a characteristic "hobby" alarm call. It is known to harass swallows while they are roosting
and dispersing from roosts. When not breeding, it is crepuscular, hawking principally in the mornings and
evenings. While on migration, they may move in small groups.

ARKive video - Eurasian hobby feeding chicks in nest
Eurasian hobby feeding chicks in nest
VideoBBC Natural History Unit, Audio: Natural FX

Adults are slate-grey above with a dark crown and 2 short black moustachial stripes. The throat is unstreaked
white, thighs and undertail coverts are unstreaked rufous and rest of the underparts are whitish with black streaks.
Close views enable the red "trousers" and vent to be seen. Sexes are similar.

Juveniles are generally much browner, with scaled upper parts and streaked buffy thighs and undertail coverts.

The Hobby has a distinct first-summer plumage.

ARKive video - Eurasian hobby feeding on dragonfly
Eurasian hobby feeding on dragonfly
Video: Oxford Scientific (OSF), Audio BBC Natural History Unit & Films@59

It is a bird of open country such as farmland, marshes, taiga and savannah. They are widespread in lowlands
with scattered small woods. It is an elegant bird of prey, appearing sickle-like in flight with its long pointed
wings and square tail, often resembling a swift when gliding with folded wings. It flies powerfully and fast.

It will take large insects, such as dragonflies, which it transfers from talons to beak and eats while soaring
slowly in circles. It also captures small bats and small birds like swallows, swifts, pipits etc. in flight.

Hobbies nest in old nests of crows and other birds. The tree selected is most often one in a hedge or on the
extreme edge of a spinney, whence the bird can observe intruders from a considerable distance.

It lays 2-4 eggs. Incubation is said to take 28 days and both parents share in this duty, though the female
does the greater part.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_Hobby

Merlin, Falco columbarius

© http://www.ecosystema.ru/

The Merlin, Falco columbarius, is a small species of falcon from the Northern Hemisphere.
A bird of prey once known colloquially as a pigeon hawk in North America, the Merlin breeds in the northern
Holarctic; some migrate to subtropical and northern tropical regions in winter.

Male Merlin, Falco columbarius, Alberta, Canada
Photo: Raj Boora, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Falco_columbarius_Male.jpg

The Merlin is 24–33 cm long with a 50–67 cm wingspan. Compared to other small falcons, it is more robust
and heavily built. Males average at about 165 g and females are typically about 230 g. There is considerable
variation, however, throughout the birds' range and—in particular in migratory populations—over the course
of a year. Thus, adult males may weigh 150–210 g , and females 190–255 g. Such sexual dimorphism is
common among raptors; it allows males and females to hunt different prey animals and decreases the territory
size needed to feed a mated pair.
ARKive video - Merlin raising chicks
Merlin raising chicks
Video: © BBC Natural History Audio Audio credits © Natural FX & © The British Library Sound Archive

The male Merlin has a blue-grey back, ranging from almost black to silver-grey in different subspecies.
Its underparts are buff- to orange-tinted and more or less heavily streaked with black to reddish brown.
The female and immature are brownish-grey to dark brown above, and whitish buff spotted with brown below.
Besides a weak whitish supercilium and the faint dark malar stripe—which are barely recognizable in both the palest and the darkest birds—the face of the Merlin is less strongly patterned than in most other falcons.
Nestlings are covered in pale buff down feathers, shading to whitish on the belly.

ARKive video - Merlin - overview
Merlin - overview
Video: BBC Natural History Unit, Audio: BBC Natural History Unit & Natural FX

The first modern taxonomist to describe the Merlin was Carl Linnaeus, a Swede who reported his type specimen came from America. Thirteen years after Linnaeus's description Marmaduke Tunstall recognized the Eurasian birds as a distinct taxon aesalon in his Ornithologica Britannica. If two species of Merlins are recognized, the Old World birds would thus bear the scientific name Falco aesalon.
American group

Falco columbarius columbarius, Taiga Merlin, Tundra Merlin
Canada and northernmost USA east of Rocky Mountains, except Great Plains. Migratory, winters in S North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and N South America from the Guyanas to the northern Andes foothills. Rarely winters in the northern USA.
Falco columbarius richardsoni, Prairie Merlin
Great Plains from Alberta to Wyoming. Resident (some winter dispersal).
Falco columbarius suckleyi, Coastal Forest Merlin, Black Merlin
Pacific coast of North America, from S Alaska to N Washington state. Resident (some altitudinal movements).
Eurasian group
Falco columbarius/aesalon aesalon, Northern Eurasia from British Isles through Scandinavia to central Siberia. Population of northern Britain shows evidence of gene flow from subaesalon. British Isles population resident, rest migratory; winters in Europe and the Mediterranean region to about Iran.
Falco columbarius/aesalon subaesalon, smyril (Faroese), smyrill (Icelandic)
Iceland and Faroe Islands. Latter population has some gene flow with aesalon. Resident (some winter dispersal). Falco columbarius/aesalon pallidus, Asian steppes between Aral Sea and Altay Mountains. Migratory, winters in S Central Asia and N South Asia.
Falco columbarius/aesalon insignis (Clark, 1907)
Siberia between Yenisei and Kolyma Rivers. Migratory, winters in continental East Asia.
Falco columbarius/aesalon lymani, Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan and surrounding countries. Short-distance migrant.
Falco columbarius/aesalon pacificus, Russian Far East to Sakhalin. Migratory, winters in Japan, Korea and nearby.

Red-footed Falcon, Falco vespertinus

© http://www.ecosystema.ru/

The Red-footed Falcon, Falco vespertinus, formerly Western Red-footed Falcon, is a bird of prey.
It belongs to the family Falconidae, the falcons. This bird is found in eastern Europe and Asia although its
numbers are dwindling rapidly due to habitat loss and hunting.

It is migratory, wintering in Africa. It is a regular wanderer to western Europe, and in August 2004 a Red-footed
Falcon was found in North America for the first time on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Male Red-footed Falcon in Etosha Nationalpark
Photo: Jutta Luft, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rotfu%C3%9Ffalke_Falco_vespertinus.jpg

It is a medium-small, long-winged species. The adult male is all blue-grey, except for his red undertail and legs;
its underwings are uniformly grey. The female has a grey back and wings, orange head and underparts,
and a white face with black eye stripe and moustaches.

Young birds are brown above and buff below with dark streaks, and a face pattern like the female.
Red-footed Falcons are 28-34 centimetres in length with a wingspan of 65-75 centimetres.

This is a diurnal bird of open country with some trees, often near water. Its distinctive method of hunting is shared by the Common Kestrel. It regularly hovers, searching the ground below, then makes a short steep dive towards the target. The Red-footed Falcon's main prey is large insects, but it will also take small mammals and birds.

This falcon is a colonial breeder, reusing the old nests of corvids, such as Rooks. It lays two to four eggs.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-footed_Falcon





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