Wild Birds

Eleonora’s Falcons (Falco eleonorae)

Eleonora’s Falcons (Falco eleonorae) is a medium-sized falcon named after Eleonor of Arborea, the national heroine of Sardinia.

Distribution / Range:

The Eleonora’s Falcon breeds on islands in the Mediterranean, particularly off Greece where two-thirds of the world’s population breeds. They also breed in the Canary Islands, and off Spain, Italy, Croatia, Morocco, and Algeria.

Head Shot of a Falcon Eleonora's Falcons
Head Shot of a Falcon Eleonora’s Falcons

They winter in Madagascar.

This long-distance migration occurs along the coasts, with populations from the western end of the Mediterranean flying to Suez before flying south down the Red Sea and across the Horn of Africa. It is rare north of its range.

Breeding / Nesting

The Eleonora’s Falcons nests colonially on coastal cliffs, laying up to four eggs.

Description

The Eleonora’s Falcon is an elegant bird of prey, 36-42 cm long with an 87-104 cm wingspan. It is like a large Hobby or a small slender Peregrine Falcon, with its long pointed wings, long tail, and slim body.

There are two color phases. The adult dark morph (genetic mutation) is all dark brown, with black underwing coverts.

The light morph is more like a juvenile Hobby, but has buff underparts, and also shows the contrast between the black underwing coverts and paler base to the flight feathers.

Flying Falcon Falcon Eleonora's Falcons
Flying Falcon Falcon Eleonora’s Falcons

Young birds are also like a large juvenile Hobby, but the pale underparts contrast with darker wingtips and wing coverts.

Diet / Feeding:

They mostly feed on large insects, such as dragonflies, which are transferred from talons to beak and eaten in flight.

It also feeds on migrating birds which pass through the Mediterranean islands at this time of year. They spend much time cruising along coastal cliffs with steady wingbeats watching for tired incoming migrants, which they capture in flight.

Call / Song:

The call is described as a kek-kek-kek.

Birds of PreyFalcon InformationThe Sport of Falconry

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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