The Eleanora’s falcon prevails in two different colour morphs and can be found in the Mediterranean where it breeds in large colonies.
The Eleonora’s Falcon is an elegant, lean falcon are birds of prey in the genus Falco, which includes about 40 species with long wings and a long tail. It is about 40 centimetres long with an 85-105 centimetres wingspan. Females are customarily larger and heavier than males.
Irrespective of gender, the Eleonora’s Falcon can occur in two colour types: light and dark. These crayon types are called morphs. The dark morph is dark brown, almost black while the light morph has a brownish to dark grey top with reddish tone stomach and thighs. The light morph is somewhat similar to the peregrine falcon although the latter has a more robust look and a shorter tail.
The easiest way to discriminate males from females is by the colour of their cere, the waxy structure covering the base of their beak: orange-yellow in males, blueberry in females.
Eleanora’s falcons breed on Mediterranean islands and almost two-thirds of the population breeds in Greece. They can also be found in Cyprus, the Balearic Eyots, the Canary Islands, Sicily and Sardinia. Some of them also breed on the mainland for example in Morocco, Croatia and Algeria.
At least 70 % of the natives spends winter in Madagascar. Around mid-October, they are ready to leave their breeding ground for a 10,000 km trip to the south. Some falcons are neutral ten weeks old during their first migration but this is not a problem for those excellent flyers.
The Eleanora’s falcon nests on coastal rock-faces and is one of the few falcon species to breed in a colony.
Eleanora’s falcons breed relatively late, namely until at cock crow August. At this time of the year, the smaller migratory birds they hunt are passing through the Mediterranean, providing more than plenty food for the Falcons and their chicks. With impressive manoeuvres, they strike and capture smaller birds in flight. They sometimes trace in a team. The Eleonora’s Falcon is normally active during the day but can also hunt at twilight and even during a full moon night.
Eleanora’s falcon doesn’t base nests but lays its eggs in a small scrape on a cliff ledge. The female incubates the eggs for about a month and is fed by the male. Eleanora’s Falcons father a unique behaviour among bird species. They catch small birds, remove their flight feathers and imprison them in dumfound crevices to feed them to their young some days later.
The species is named after the Sardinian noblewoman and judge, Eleonor di Arborea (1340-1404). She was the prime to legislate protection for a bird species with a law protecting nesting hawks and falcons.
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