Conservation of Saker (Falco cherrug) in the Carpathian Basin (LIFE06 NAT/HU/000096)
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Latest news
The final conference of the Saker conservation LIFE project was held in Eger, Hungary 16-18 September. More than 60 participants from 10 countries attended the conference, where they could learn about the Saker conservation activities in the European range of the species including the results of the LIFE projects lead by Bükk National Park Directorate and expert-wisely co-ordinated by MME/BirdLife in Hungary and RPS in Slovakia. (2010/09/23)
Late October 2009 the satellite-tracked Saker Dorottya from Hungary arrived in Niger. She spent most of the following four months 50-25 km NNE of Zinder (roughly 14.00 N 9.00 E). The areas where she stayed are mostly quite flat coversands. Local rainfall averages 300-400 mm/yr. The main crop is the grain crop millet, grown by Haussa farmers. The other main land use is pastoralism, carried out primarily by Peul families. (2010/07/12)
EU's LIFE Committee has approved our new Saker conservation project for support. The aims of the project are to transfer knowledge from the recent LIFE programme to Romanian and Bulgarian colleagues on one hand, and on the other hand to continue insulation of the most dangerous places in Hungary and - involving one electric company as a partner (Západoslovenská energetika, a.s.) - in Slovakia. In the frame of the project, effects of wind farms and diet composition will also be assessed. (2010/06/21)
Three months of intense rehabilitation were not enough to save a falcon. Unfortunately, the Saker Falcon - a globally endangered species did not make it back to the wild. The bird underwent a serious operation; however its condition did not improve and likely as a result of a bacterial infection the bird died in early January 2010. (2010/01/28)
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Latest update: 2014/04/28
Species Description  
The Saker (Falco cherrug Gray, 1834) is a large falcon species with the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) being its closest relative. Earlier the species was split into more subspecies, however only two of them are recognised by ornithologists today:
  • Falco cherrug cherrug ranges from Europe and from River Jenisei to Altai Mountains, China and North Mongolia;
  • Falco cherrug milvipes can be found in the southern parts of Central Asia.
Saker is a brown buzzard-sized but slimmer bird of prey. Its body length varies between 45-55 cm and wingspan is 105-130 cm. Males weighs 730-990g, females 970-1300g. Females are bigger than males; however the difference is not as obvious as it can be noticed by Peregrines. Adults are yellowish brown on the back, head is light cream-coloured, sometimes almost white. Moustache is narrow, less distinct. White breast is typical for adults with brown spots that densify toward the belly. Cere and legs are yellow. Altogether adults are lighter coloured than young birds.

Just fledged young Sakers are also brown, but the spots on the breast and belly are denser merging into stripes. Moustache is more distinct and darker than on adults and head is darker as well. Cere and legs are light blue starting to become yellow only from the second year. Altogether juveniles are darker than adults.

In flight, Sakers recall the other large falcon species living in Hungary, the Peregrine, however wingtips of Sakers are less pointed and underwing coverts are darker creating a well visible contrast to primaries, which cannot be found on Peregrines that have similarly coloured underwing coverts and primaries.
Biology of Saker >>
Distribution >>
Population Trends in Europe >>
Conservation Status >>
Literature >>
© Conservation of Saker (Falco cherrug) in the Carpathian Basin (LIFE06 NAT/HU/000096)