Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug)




saker falcon
Saker Falcon


Description - Characteristics: Saker Falcon


Breeding – Clutch – Measurements – Habitat – Diet - Threats



Order: Falconiformes

Family: Falconidae

Genus: Falco

Species: Saker Falcon


Scientific Name: Falco cherrug


Names and Synonyms of the Saker Falcon


Name in German: Saker Falcon

Artname in French: Faucon sacre

Artname in Dutch: Sakervalk

Artname in Spanish: Halcón Sacre

Artname in Italian: Sacro

Artname in Finnish: Aavikkohaukka

Artname in Danish: Slagfalk

Artname in Swedish: Tatarfalk

Artname in Polish: Raróg

Artname in Russian: Baloban Балобан

Artname in Kazakh: Ақсұңқар, Ителгі

Artname in Mongol: Идлэг шонхор

Artname in Nepali: तोप बाज

Artname in Bengali: সাকের শাহিন

Artname in Persian: بالابان , بالابان (چرخ)

Artname in Hebrew: בז צידים, בז ציידים

Artname in Arabic: الصقر الحر, الصقر الحر الصقر الحر, صقر الغزال

Artname in Swahili: Kozi Madoa

Artname in Chinese: 猎 隼, 猎隼, 獵隼

Artname in Chinese (traditional): 獵隼


Characteristics of the Saker Falcon


Distribution: Palearctic, during winter Afrotropical and partly Indomlayan. Breeds in in central and eastern Europe, eastwards across central Asia; countries: north Germany, northeast Austria, Hungary, northeast Croatia, northern part of the Balkan, eastwards to Romania, Bulgariy, Moldova, Ukraine, further east to Urals and southern Russia, further on to Siberia and to Mongolia; Turkey, Iraq, north and west Iran, northernmost Afghanistan, Kirghizia, northern China,


Movements: Juveniles are entirely migratory. In Central Europe adults are mostly resident, though elsewhere migratory and nomadic. Eastern populations and across central Asia leave breading areas between September to October to winter in Middle East, northeast Africa and southwards to Kenya and Tanzania.


Wintering During winter moving to Afrotropical and Indomalayan.


Habitat: open and dry country with cliffs and scattered trees, favours forest-steppe, steppe, subdesert, plains, grassland.


Behaviour Diurnal. In flight only slow beats of wings. Very good at gliding, using thermals to soar high. Hunting flight very low over ground, treetops or from a hide. Slow search flight, can also switch into fast dive immediately when in search flight at higher altitudes.


Field Characteristics: Die Größe des Sakerfalken liegt zwischen dem kleineren Wanderfalken und dem größeren Gerfalken. Flügel und Schwanz sind länger als beim Wanderfalken. Oberseite hell oder dunkles braun, Schwingen dunkler. Die mittleren Schwanzfedern sind meistens einheitlich braun, die äußeren Schwanzfedern sind mit ovalen weißen Flecken versehen, ergibt am gespreizten Schwanz eine weiße Bänderung. Kopf hell und ± dunkel gestreift, Bartstreif undeutlich, eher verschwommen. Unterseite variiert zwischen beige und weiß bei hellen Morphen, mit brauner Längsstreifung. Flügelunterseite von hellgrau bis weißlich. Achselfedern und Unterflügeldecken dunkel


Juveniles Kleid: kräftige Unterseitenstreifung, Unterflügeldecken dunkler als bei ad. und deutlich vom Unterflügel abgesetzt.


Größe: Von der Gesamtlänge entfallen jeweils 19-22 cm auf den Schwanz.


Schnabel: blaugrau mit schwarzer Spitze, auch mit gelblicher Basis

Wachshaut: ad. = gelb; juv. = gelblich.


Lauf und Zehen: ad. = gelb; juv. = blaugrau.


Iris: dunkelbraun.





♂ ca. 47 cm

♀ ca. 55 cm

Tail: 19-22 cm


♂: ca. 110 cm

♀: ca. 126 cm


♂ 700-900 g

♀ 970-1300 g

 Voice: Mostly silent except when breeding. Voice sounds gruffer as with peregrine falcon, loud “kyak-kyak-kyak-kyak”.




Maturity: Mature in the second year.

Mating Season: Monogamous breeding pair, though because of ist loyalty to the breeding gound, relationships can last for several years.


Clutches per breeding season1 clutch

Breeding: In the west between mid March and to late June/JulyZwischen Mitte März und Anfang April, in the east between April to August

Nest: Does not build a nest, uses nests of other raptors, crows, herons and even stork nests. Nest usually sits in tree, also on cliff ledges or on rock crags. At times, there are 2-3 nest sites per breeding ground.


egg of saker falcon
Egg of the Saker Falcon - source: Von Didier Descouens - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0,


Clutch: (rarely 2-) 3-5 (maxi. -6) eggs

Eggs: broad oval eggs, yellowish shell; mostly covered with brown to red-brown stains. Breitovale Eier mit gelblicher Schale, die überwiegend braun bis rotbraun gefleckt sind.

Egg Measurements:

Length: 50.1-58.7 mm

Width: 38.8-44.9 mm; Ø: 53.7x41.1 mm (n=61)

Shell weight: 3.81-5.51 g; Ø: 4.75 g (n=160)

Egg weight: 44.96-54.15 g


Recurrent clutch: possibly but rare; mostly when clutch is lost the Sakers give up breeding.


Laying interval: 2-3 days.

Begin of Incubating: after third egg.

Incubation: 36-38 days per egg; it is mostly the ♀ incubating, while being fed by the ♂, which also keeps watch over clutch and ♀. The only time when the ♀ takes over incubating is when the ♀ is feeding.

Hatching: All chicken hatch within a couple of days.


Fledging: The chicken are being huddled by ♀ while ♂ brings food to the nest. Only after the end of the third week, both parents share the task of hunting and feeding the chicken. Fledging after 48-50 days

Dependency: After fledging the immatures will be cared for by parent for another 54-6 weeks.


saker falcon
Saker Falcon




Food: During breeding mostly small mammals (rodents, logomorphs); birds, reptiles, few insects, only rarely amphibians.


Longevity: In captivity Saker can reach 23 years of age.


Mortality: According to studies in Kazakstan, the yearly survical rate is about 82%.


Threats: Especially in the eastern range, the largest threat to the Saker is that eggs and chicken are freely taken from nests by people. Another threat are collisions with power lines.






Bauer, Hans-Günther, Bezzel, Einhard et. al. (HG), Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 1+2, Sonderausgabe 2012, Aula Verlag, Wiebelsheim

Bauer, Hans-Günther, Bezzel, Einhard et. al. (HG), Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 3, Literatur und Anhang, Aula Verlag Wiebelsheim, 2. vollständig überarbeitete Auflage 1993

Baumgart, Wolfgang, Der Sakerfalke, Die Neue Brehmbücherei, A. Ziemsen Verlag Wittenberg Lutherstadt, 2. Auflage 1980

Bezzel, Einhard, Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Non-Passeriformes, Band 1, AULA-Verlag Wiesbaden, 1985

Bruun/Singer/König/Der Kosmos Vogelführer, Franck'sche Verlagshandlung Stuttgart, 5. Auflage 1982

Glutz von Blotzheim, Urs et. al (HG), Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 4, Falconiformes, AULA-Verlag Wiesbaden, 2. durchgesehene Auflage 1989

Mebs, Theodor (†), Schmidt, Daniel, Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens, Franck-Kosmos Verlag Stuttgart, 2. Auflage 2014

Svenson, Lars et. al, Der Kosmos Vogelführer, Franck-Kosmos Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart, 2. Auflage 2011



Image Credits


Egg of Saker Falcon - Source: by Didier Descouens - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0,