Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae)

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Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae) is a medium-sized falcon. It belongs to the hobby group, a rather close-knit number of similar falcons often considered a subgenus Hypotriorchis. The Sooty Falcon is sometimes considered its closest relative, but while they certainly belong to the same lineage, they do not seem to be close sister species. Eleonora’s Falcon is named after Eleonor of Arborea, national heroine of Sardinia.

Eleonora’s Falcon is an elegant bird of prey, 36–42 cm long with an 87–104 cm wingspan. It is shaped like a large Eurasian Hobby or a small slender Peregrine Falcon, with its long pointed wings, long tail and slim body. There are two colour morphs: The adult dark morph is all sooty brown, with black underwing coverts. The light morph is more like a juvenile Eurasian Hobby, but has buff underparts, and also shows the contrast between the black underwing coverts and paler base to the flight feathers. Young birds are also like a large juvenile Hobby, but the pale underparts contrast with darker wingtips and wing coverts. The call is a typical falcon kek-kek-kek.

This is a long-distance migrator, wintering in Madagascar. The migration route has been recently discovered and contrary to previous suggestions it has been demonstrated by satellite telemetry to be inland through the African continent.

In the Danube Delta is extremly rare, I have the fourth observation for Romania.

photo: Mihai BACIU


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