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Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug)

Saker Falcon, Falco cherrug: The saker falcon lives in habitats of desert edge, semi-desert, steppes, and arid montane areas. The species is adapted to hunting close to the ground in open terrain. Saker falcons are daytime hunters that specialize on rodents, especially ground squirrels, and other birds. Falcons may be sedentary, partly-migratory, or fully-migratory depending on food availability in the winter.

Saker Falcon

The saker falcon is distributed within the Palearctic region from eastern Europe to western China. Migrant sakers occur in the northern Afghan steppes and north-east montane areas from September to November. A resident population also exists in Herat Province, however this population has not been well studied. Sakers have been sighted at Band-e-Amir in Bamyan Province and at Dashte-e-Nawar in Ghazni Province. The estimated global population of the saker falcon is 7,200 – 8,800. CITES estimates that 2,510 pairs (5,020 individuals) exist across Central Asian countries, with an estimated 40 pairs occurring in Afghanistan.

The primary threat to the saker falcon is capture for falconry. CITES (2003) estimates that the number of sakers taken from the wild on an annual basis ranges from 6,825-8,400 (including a 5% capture mortality). However, saker falcons require a valid CITES permit for international trade and are protected in Afghanistan.    

The saker falcon has a long hooked beak with large talons used to catch mainly small to medium sized mammals. Birds range from chocolate brown to a pale sandy blonde to nearly pure white individuals, and body markings also vary widely. Females are much larger than males, making them more valuable to falconers.



Heidi Kretser, Ph.D.
Wildlife Conservation Society 7 Brandy Brook Ave Saranac Lake, NY 12983 USA
518 891-8872 ext 105