Falcon: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brown Falcon
Falco berigora
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Subfamily: Falconinae
Genus: Falco
Linnaeus, 1758

About 37; see text.

  • Aesalon
  • Lithofalco
  • Tinnunculus Linnaeus, 1766
  • Hierofalco Cuvier, 1817
  • Cerchneis Boie, 1826
  • Hypotriorchis Boie, 1826
  • Rhynchodon Nitzsch, 1829
  • Ieracidea Gould, 1838
  • Hieracidea Strickland, 1841 (unjustified emendation)
  • Gennaia Kaup, 1847
  • Jerafalco Kaup, 1850 (unjustified emendation)
  • Harpe Bonaparte, 1855 (non Lacepède 1802: preoccupied)
  • Dissodectes Sclater, 1864
  • Genaïe Heuglin, 1867 (unjustified emendation)
  • Harpa Sharpe, 1874 (non Pallas 1774: preoccupied)
  • Gennadas Heine & Reichenow, 1890 (unjustified emendation)
  • Nesierax Oberholser, 1899
  • Nesihierax Dubois, 1902 (unjustified emendation)
  • Asturaetus De Vis, 1906 (non Asturaetos Brehm 1855: preoccupied)
  • Plioaetus Richmond, 1908
  • Sushkinia Tugarinov, 1935 (non Martynov 1930: preoccupied) - see below

A falcon (pronounced /ˈfɔːlkən/ or /ˈfælkən/) is any species of raptor in the genus Falco. The word comes from their Latin name falco, related to Latin falx ("sickle") because of the shape of these birds' wings.



Most members of the genus Falco show a tooth on the upper mandible

Adult falcons have thin tapered wings, which enable them to fly at high speed and to change direction rapidly. Fledgling falcons, in their first year of flying, have longer flight feathers which makes their configuration more like that of a general-purpose bird such as a broadwing. This is to make it easier for them to fly while learning the exceptional skills required to be effective hunters as adults.

Peregrine Falcons have been recorded diving at speeds of 200 miles per hour (320 km/h), making them the fastest-moving creatures on Earth.[1] Other falcons include the Gyrfalcon, Lanner Falcon, and the Merlin. Some small falcons with long narrow wings are called hobbies, and some which hover while hunting are called kestrels. The falcons are part of the family Falconidae, which also includes the caracaras, Laughing Falcon, forest falcons, and falconets.

The traditional term for a male falcon is tercel (British spelling) or tiercel (American spelling), from Latin tertius = third because of the belief that only one in three eggs hatched a male bird.[2][3] Some sources give the etymology as deriving from the fact that a male falcon is approximately one third smaller than the female[4] (Old French tiercelet).

A falcon chick, especially one reared for falconry, that is still in its downy stage is known as an eyas [5][6] (sometimes spelt eyass). The word arose by mistaken division of Old French un niais, from Latin presumed

  • nidiscus ("nestling", from nidus = nest).

The technique of hunting with trained captive birds of prey is known as falconry.

As is the case with many birds of prey, falcons are renowned for their exceptional powers of vision; one species has been found to have a visual acuity of 2.6 times that of a normal human.[7]

In February 2005, the Canadian ornithologist Louis Lefebvre announced a method of measuring avian intelligence in terms of their innovation in feeding habits. The falcon and corvids scored highest on this scale.[8]

Systematics and evolution

Compared to other birds of prey, the fossil record of the falcons is not well distributed in time. The oldest fossils tentatively assigned to this genus are from the Late Miocene, less than 10 million years ago.[citation needed] This coincides with a period in which many modern genera of birds became recognizable in the fossil record. The falcon lineage may however be somewhat older than this[citation needed] and given the distribution of fossil and living Falco taxa is probably of North American, African or possibly Middle Eastern or European in origin.

Falcons are roughly divisible into three or four groups. The first contains the kestrels (probably excepting the American Kestrel);[9] usually small and stocky falcons of mainly brown upperside color and sometimes sexually dimorphic; three African species that are generally grey in color stand apart from the typical members of this group. Kestrels feed chiefly on terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates of appropriate size, such as rodents, reptiles, or insects.

The second group contains slightly larger (on average) and more elegant species, the hobbies and relatives. These birds are characterized by considerable amounts of dark slaty grey in their plumage; the malar area is nearly always black. They feed mainly on smaller birds.

Third are the Peregrine Falcon and its relatives: large powerful birds which also have a black malar area (except some very light color morphs), and often a black cap also. Otherwise, they are somewhat intermediate between the other groups, being chiefly medium grey with some lighter or brownish colours on the upper side. They are on average more delicately patterned than the hobbies and if the hierofalcons are excluded (see below), this group contains typically species with horizontal barring on the underside. As opposed to the other groups, where tail colour varies much in general but little according to evolutionary relatedness[10], the tails of the large falcons are quite uniformly dark grey with rather inconspicuous black banding and small white tips, though this is probably plesiomorphic. These large Falco feed on mid-sized birds and terrestrial vertebrates.

Very similar to these and sometimes included therein are the 4 or so species of hierofalcons (literally, "hawk-falcons"). They represent taxa with usually more phaeomelanins which impart reddish or brown colors, and generally more strongly patterned plumage reminiscent of hawks. Notably, their undersides have a lengthwise pattern of blotches, lines or arrowhead marks.

While these three or four groups, loosely circumscribed, are an informal arrangement, they probably contain several distinct clades in their entirety. A study of mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data of some kestrels (Groombridge et al. 2002) identified a clade containing the Common Kestrel and related "malar-striped" species, to the exclusion of such taxa as the Greater Kestrel (which lacks a malar stripe), the Lesser Kestrel (which is very similar to the Common but also has no malar stripe), and the American Kestrel. The latter species has a malar stripe, but its color pattern - apart from the brownish back - and notably also the black feathers behind the ear, which never occur in the true kestrels, are more reminiscent of some hobbies. The malar-striped kestrels apparently split from their relatives in the Gelasian, roughly 2.5-2 mya, and are apparently of tropical East African origin. The entire "true kestrel" group—excluding the American species—is probably a distinct and quite young clade, as also suggested by their numerous apomorphies.

Other studies[11] have confirmed that the hierofalcons are a monophyletic group - and, incidentally, that hybridization is quite frequent at least in the larger species falcon species. Initial studies of mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data suggested that the hierofalcons are basal among living falcons[12]. This is now known to be an erroneous result due to the presence of a numt (Wink & Sauer-Gürth 2000); in reality the hierofalcons are a rather young group, originating maybe at the same time as the start of the main kestrel radiation, about 2 million years ago. This lineage seems to have gone nearly extinct at some point in the past; the present diversity is of very recent origin, though little is known about their fossil history (Nittinger et al. 2005, Johnson et al. 2007).

The phylogeny and delimitations of the Peregrine and hobbies groups is more problematic. Molecular studies have only been conducted on a few species, and namely the morphologically ambiguous taxa have often been little researched. The morphology of the syrinx, which contributes well to resolving the overall phylogeny of the Falconidae[13], is not very informative in the present genus. Nonetheless, a core group containing the Peregrine and Barbary falcons which in turn group with the hierofalcons and the more distant Prairie Falcon (which was sometimes placed with the hierofalcons, even though it is entirely distinct biogeographically), as well as at least most of the "typical" hobbies, are confirmed to be monophyletic as suspected[14].

Given that the American Falcos of today belong to the Peregrine group or are apparently more basal species, it seems that the initially most successful evolutionary radiation was an Holarctic one that originated possibly around central Eurasia or in (northern) Africa. One or several lineages were present in North America by the Early Pliocene at latest.

The origin of today's major Falco groups—the "typical" hobbies and kestrels for example, or the Peregine-hierofalcon complex, or the Aplomado Falcon lineage—can be quite confidently placed from the Miocene-Pliocene boundary through the Zanclean and Piacenzian and just into the Gelasian, that is from about 8 to 2.4 million years ago, when the malar-striped kestrels diversified. Some groups of falcons, such as the hierofalcon complex or the Peregrine-Barbary superspecies have only evolved in more recent times; the species of the former seem to be a mere 120.000 years old or so (Nittinger et al. 2005).


Saker Falcon, a typical hierofalcon

The sequence follows the taxonomic order of White et al. (1996), except for adjustments in the kestrel sequence.

Fossil record

  • Falco medius (Late Miocene of Cherevichnyi, Ukraine)[15]
  • ?Falco sp. (Late Miocene of Idaho)[16]
  • Falco sp. (Early[17] Pliocene of Kansas)[18]
  • Falco sp. (Early Pliocene of Bulgaria - Early Pleistocene of Spain and Czechia)[19]
  • Falco oregonus (Early/Middle Pliocene of Fossil Lake, Oregon) - possibly not distinct from a living species
  • Falco umanskajae (Late Pliocene of Kryzhanovka, Ukraine) - includes "Falco odessanus", a nomen nudum[20]
  • ?Falco bakalovi (Late Pliocene of Varshets, Bulgaria)[21]
  • Falco antiquus (Middle Pleistocene of Noailles, France and possibly Horvőlgy, Hungary)[22]
  • Cuban Kestrel, Falco kurochkini (Late Pleistocene/Holocene of Cuba, West Indies)
  • Falco chowi (China)

Several more paleosubspecies of extant species also been described; see species accounts for these.

"Sushkinia" pliocaena from the Early Pliocene of Pavlodar (Kazakhstan) appears to be a falcon of some sort. It might belong into this genus or a closely related one (Becker 1987). In any case, the genus name Sushkinia is invalid for this animal because it had already been allocated to a prehistoric dragonfly relative.

The supposed "Falco" pisanus was actually a pigeon of the genus Columba, possibly the same as Columba omnisanctorum which in that case would adopt the older species name of the "falcon" (Mlíkovský 2002). The Eocene fossil "Falco" falconellus (or "F." falconella) from Wyoming is a bird of uncertain affiliations, maybe a falconid, maybe not; it certainly does not belong into this genus. "Falco" readei is now considered a paleosubspecies of the Yellow-headed Caracara (Milvago chimachima).


  1. ^ 2003 Grolier Encyclopedia, The Great Book of Knowledge, The Speed of Animals, pp. 278]
  2. ^ Askoxford.com
  3. ^ Collins.co.uk
  4. ^ Dictionary.reference.com
  5. ^ Thefreedictionary.com
  6. ^ Tiscali.co.uk
  7. ^ Science/AAAS Sciencemag.org, 16 April 1976: Vol. 192. no. 4236, pp. 263 - 265 doi:10.1126/science.1257767
  8. ^ EurekAlert.org, Science News, AAAS Annual Meeting, 2005.
  9. ^ Groombridge et al. (2002)
  10. ^ For example, tail colour in the Common and Lesser Kestrels is absolutely identical, yet they do not seem too closely related (Groombridge et al. 2002). On the other hand, the Fox and Greater Kestrels can be told apart at first glance by their tail colours, but not by much else; they might be very close relatives and are probably much closer to each other than the Lesser and Common Kestrels.
  11. ^ Helbig et al. (1994), Wink et al. (1998), Wink & Sauer-Gürth (2000), Wink et al. (2004), Nittinger et al. (2005)
  12. ^ E.g. Helbig et al. (1994), Wink et al. (1998)
  13. ^ See Griffiths (1999), Griffiths et al. (2004).
  14. ^ Helbig et al. (1994), Wink et al. (1998)
  15. ^ IZAN 45-4033: left carpometacarpus. Small species; possibly closer to kestrels than to peregrine lineage or hierofalcons, but may be more basal altogether due to its age.(Becker 1987, Mlíkovský 2002).
  16. ^ IMNH 27937. A coracoid of a Merlin-sized species. It seems not close to F. columbarius or the Recent North American species (Becker 1987).
  17. ^ Fox Canyon Local Fauna, 4.3–4.8 million years ago: see Martin et al. (2000).
  18. ^ UMMP V27159, V29107, V57508-V57510, V57513/V57514= some limb bones. Slightly smaller than a Merlin and more robust than American Kestrel, and seems not too distant from F. columbarius.(Feduccia 1970)
  19. ^ A hierofalcon (Mlíkovský 2002)? If so, probably not close to the living species but an earlier divergence that left no descendants; might be more than one species due to large range in time and/or include common ancestor of hierofalcons and Peregrine-Barbary complex (Nittinger et al. 2005).
  20. ^ NNPM NAN 41-646. Almost complete left tarsometatarsus. Probably a prehistoric hobby, perhaps less specialized for bird hunting.(Sobolev 2003)
  21. ^ Status, especially distinctness from F. antiquus, requires confirmation (Mlíkovský 2002).
  22. ^ Supposedly a Saker Falcon paleosubspecies (Mlíkovský 2002), but this is not too likely due to the probable Eemian origin of that species (Nittinger et al. 2005).


  • Becker, Jonathan J. (1987): Revision of "Falco" ramenta Wetmore and the Neogene evolution of the Falconidae. Auk 104(2): 270-276. PDF fulltext
  • Feduccia, J. Alan (1970): Some birds of prey from the Upper Pliocene of Kansas. Auk 87(4): 795-797. PDF fulltext
  • Griffiths, Carole S. (1999): Phylogeny of the Falconidae inferred from molecular and morphological data. Auk 116(1): 116–130. PDF fulltext
  • Griffiths, Carole S.; Barrowclough, George F.; Groth, Jeff G. & Mertz, Lisa (2004): Phylogeny of the Falconidae (Aves): a comparison of the efficacy of morphological, mitochondrial, and nuclear data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32(1): 101–109. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2003.11.019 (HTML abstract)
  • Groombridge, Jim J.; Jones, Carl G.; Bayes, Michelle K.; van Zyl, Anthony J.; Carrillo, José; Nichols, Richard A. & Bruford, Michael W. (2002): A molecular phylogeny of African kestrels with reference to divergence across the Indian Ocean. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 25(2): 267–277. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00254-3 (HTML abstract)
  • Helbig, A.J.; Seibold, I.; Bednarek, W.; Brüning, H.; Gaucher, P.; Ristow, D.; Scharlau, W.; Schmidl, D. & Wink, Michael (1994): Phylogenetic relationships among falcon species (genus Falco) according to DNA sequence variation of the cytochrome b gene. In: Meyburg, B.-U. & Chancellor, R.D. (eds.): Raptor conservation today: 593-599. PDF fulltext
  • Johnson, J.A.; Burnham, K.K.; Burnham, W.A.; Mindell, D.P. (2007): Genetic structure among continental and island populations of gyrfalcons. Molecular Ecology 16:3145-3160. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03373.x (HTML abstract)
  • Martin, R.A.; Honey, J.G. & Pelaez-Campomanes, P. (2000): The Meade Basin Rodent Project; a progress report. Kansas Geologial Survey Open-file Report 2000-61. Paludicola 3(1): 1-32.
  • Mlíkovský, Jirí (2002): Cenozoic Birds of the World, Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press, Prague. ISBN 80-901105-3-8 PDF fulltext
  • Nittinger, F.; Haring, E.; Pinsker, W.; Wink, Michael & Gamauf, A. (2005): Out of Africa? Phylogenetic relationships between Falco biarmicus and other hierofalcons (Aves Falconidae). Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 43(4): 321-331. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0469.2005.00326.x PDF fulltext
  • Sobolev, D.V. (2003): Новый вид плиоценового сокола (Falconiformes, Falconidae) [A new species of Pliocene falcon (Falconiformes, Falconidae)] Vestnik zoologii 37 (6): 85–87. [Russian with English abstract] PDF fulltext
  • White, Clayton M.; Olsen, Penny D. & Kiff, Lloyd F. (1994): Family Falconidae. In: del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew & Sargatal, Jordi (editors): Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 2 (New World Vultures to Guineafowl): 216-275, plates 24-28. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-15-6
  • Wink, Michael & Sauer-Gürth, Hedi (2000): Advances in the molecular systematics of African raptors. In: Chancellor, R.D. & Meyburg, B.-U. (eds): Raptors at Risk: 135-147. WWGBP/Hancock House, Berlin/Blaine. PDF fulltext
  • Wink, Michael; Seibold, I.; Lotfikhah, F. & Bednarek, W. (1998): Molecular systematics of holarctic raptors (Order Falconiformes). In: Chancellor, R.D., Meyburg, B.-U. & Ferrero, J.J. (eds.): Holarctic Birds of Prey: 29-48. Adenex & WWGBP. PDF fulltext
  • Wink, Michael; Sauer-Gürth, Hedi; Ellis, David & Kenward, Robert (2004): Phylogenetic relationships in the Hierofalco complex (Saker-, Gyr-, Lanner-, Laggar Falcon). In: Chancellor, R.D. & Meyburg, B.-U. (eds.): Raptors Worldwide: 499-504. WWGBP, Berlin. PDF fulltext

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Falcón article)

From Wikitravel


Falcón is a state in northwestern Venezuela.

Los Medanos de Coro
Los Medanos de Coro
  • Coro -- the capital of Falcón state, Coro is one of the oldest Spanish settlements in South America. It has Venezuela's best example of beautiful, colonial architecture in the town center.h
  • Morrocoy National Park - A plethora of islets, coral reefs and sandy beaches make this one of the best beach and diving destinations in Venezuela. The islands are accessible by boat or lancha from either of Morrocoy's two gateways: Tucacas in the south or Chichiriviche in the north.
  • Los Medanos de Coro - This substantial sandbar connecting the Paraguana Peninsula with mainland Venezuela has become its own spectacular 'desert' replete with xerophytic vegetation, and vast sand dunes that are great for freefall jumps and tumbles! Easily accessible from nearby Coro.
  • Paraguaná Peninsula - More beaches on this windy peninsula, including some great spots for kite-surfing.
  • Adicora The Troja is located in Adícora, east of the Paraguana peninsula in Falcon State, which was born in the dunes of Coro National Park, a city declared World Cultural Heritage. Adicora, is a place of quiet beaches, surrounded by natural beauty esplendorosas, dunes, salt marshes and villages that look great example of Colonial architecture, famous also for the practice of windsurfing and skysurf. Paraguaná is free zone and free port zone, ideal for shopping white, lingerie, footwear, clothing and liquor. http://www.latrojaadicora.com


The Paraguaná Peninsula, like Margarita Island, is a free port, i.e. no sales tax or V.A.T. is charged. This makes it a popular destination for Venezuelans to stock up on whisky or buy consumer goods such as televisions.

  • Sierra de San Luis - a small range of mountains with a refreshingly cool climate, a great place for hiking and seeing nature. You can stay at the lovely Casa de Campo [1] (Tel: 0268 7472917, 0414 685 4037) which is on the road to Curimagua, about 5 km after La Chapa. Double rooms are about USD 40-50. Other options include the Posada Don Aguedo in San Luis (Tel: 0268 6663073) for about USD 15 a room or USD 5 for a dorm bed; Posada La Caburena (Tel: 0268 6611093) also in San Luis, USD 20 a room.
  • El Cabo de San Román - Venezuela's northernmost point, located on the Paraguana Peninsula and 100km north of Coro. The small town of Las Cumaraguas is close to the Cape and has some impressive salt flats you can visit.
  • Kitesurfing at Adicora, on the Paraguana Peninsula.

Get out

Aruba lies just 27 km off the Paraguaná Peninsula but at present the only way to get there is by plane from Coro. The journey is short and reportedly cheap, although Venezuelan exit taxes will probably have to be paid. A ferry service from the Venezuelan port of Puerto Cabello to Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao is planned although it is not clear when this route will enter service.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

'FALCON (Lat. Falco; Fr. Faucon; Teutonic, Falk or Valken), a word now restricted to the high-couraged and long-winged birds of prey which take their quarry as it moves; but formerly it had a very different meaning, being by the naturalists of the 18th and even of the 19th century extended to a great number of birds comprised in the genus Falco of Linnaeus and writers of his day, 2 while, on the other hand, by falconers, it was, and still is, technically limited to the female of the birds employed by them in their vocation (see Falconry), whether "long-winged" and therefore "noble," or "short-winged" and "ignoble." According to modern usage, the majority of the falcons, in the sense first given, may be separated into five very distinct groups: (1) the falcons pure and simple (Falco proper); (2) the large northern falcons (Hierofalco, Cuvier); (3) the "desert falcons" (Gennaea, Kaup); (4) the merlins (Aesalon, Kaup); and (5) the hobbies (Hypotriorchis, Boie). A sixth group, the kestrels 1 Unknown to classical writers, the earliest use of this word is said to be by Servius Honoratus (circa A.D. 390-480) in his notes on Aen. x. 145. It seems possibly to be the Latinized form of the Teutonic Falk, though falx is commonly accounted its root.

The nomenclature of nearly all the older writers on this point is extremely confused. What many of them, even so lately as Pennant's time, termed the "gentle falcon" is certainly the bird we now call the goshawk (i.e. goose-hawk), which name itself may have been transferred to the Astur palumbarius of modern ornithologists, from one of the long-winged birds of prey.

(Tinnunculus, Vieillot), is often added. This, however, appears to have been justifiably reckoned a distinct genus.

The typical falcon is by common consent allowed to be that almost cosmopolitan species to which unfortunately the English epithet "peregrine" (i.e. strange or wandering) has been attached. It is the Falco peregrinus of Tunstall (1771) and of most recent ornithologists, though some prefer the specific name communis applied by J. F. Gmelin a few years later (1788) to a bird which, if his diagnosis be correct, could not have been a true falcon at all, since it had yellow irides - a colour never met with in the eyes of any bird now called by naturalists a "falcon." This species inhabits suitable localities throughout the greater part of the globe, though examples from North America have by some received specific recognition as F. anatum (the "duckhawk"), and those from Australia have been described as distinct under the name of F. melanogenys. Here, as in so many other cases, it is almost impossible to decide as to which forms should, and which should not, be accounted merely local races. In size not surpassing a raven, this falcon (fig. 1) is perhaps the most powerful bird of prey for its bulk that flies, and its courage is not less than its power. It is the species, in Europe, most commonly FIG. 1. - Peregrine Falcon.

trained for the sport of hawking (see Falconry). Volumes have been written upon it, and to attempt a complete account of it is, within the limits now available, impossible. The plumage of the adult is generally blackish-blue above, and white, with a more or less deep cream-coloured tinge, beneath - the lower parts, except the chin and throat, being barred transversely with black, while a black patch extends from the bill to the ear-coverts, and descends on either side beneath the mandible. The young have the upper parts deep blackish-brown, and the lower white, more or less strongly tinged with ochraceous-brown, and striped longitudinally with blackish-brown. From Port Kennedy, the most northern part of the American continent, to Tasmania, and from the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk to Mendoza in the Argentine territory, there is scarcely a country in which this falcon has not been found. Specimens have been received from the Cape of Good Hope, and it is only a question of the technical differentiation of species whether it does not extend to Cape Horn. Fearless as it is, and adapting itself to almost every circumstance, it will form its eyry equally on the sea-washed cliffs, the craggy mountains, or (though more rarely) the drier spots of a marsh in the northern hemisphere, as on trees (says H. Schlegel) in the forests of Java or the waterless ravines of Australia. In the United Kingdom it was formerly very common, and hardly a high rock from the Shetlands to the Isle of Wight but had a pair as its tenants. But the British gamekeeper has long held the mistaken faith that it is his worst foe, and the number of pairs now allowed to rear their brood unmolested in the British Islands is very small. Yet its utility to the gamepreserver, by destroying every one of his most precious wards that shows any sign of infirmity, can hardly be questioned by reason, and G. E. Freeman (Falconry) has earnestly urged its claims to protection.' Nearly allied to this falcon are several species, such as F. barbarus of Mauretania, F. minor of South Africa, the Asiatic F. babylonicus, F. peregrinator of India (the shaheen), and perhaps F. cassini of South America, with some others.

Next to the typical falcons comes a group known as the "great northern" falcons (Hierofalco). Of these the most remarkable is the gyrfalcon (F. gyrfalco), whose home is in the Scandinavian mountains, though the young are yearly visitants to the plains of Holland and Germany. In plumage it very much resembles F. peregrinus, but its flanks have generally a bluer tinge, and its superiority in size is at once manifest. Nearly allied to it is the Icelander (F. islandus), which externally differs in its paler colouring and in almost entirely wanting the black mandibular patch. Its proportions, however, differ a good deal, its body being elongated. Its country is shown by its name, but it also inhabits south Greenland, and not unfrequently makes its way to the British Islands. Very close to this comes the Greenland falcon (F. candicans), a native of north Greenland, and perhaps of other countries within the Arctic Circle. Like the last, the Greenland falcon from time to time occurs in the United Kingdom, but it is always to be distinguished by wearing a plumage in which at every age the prevailing colour is pure white. In north-eastern America these birds are replaced by a kindred form (F. labradorus), first detected by Audubon and subsequently recognized by Dresser (Orn. Hiscell. i. 135). It is at once distinguished by its very dark colouring, the lower parts being occasionally almost as deeply tinted at all ages as the upper.

All the birds hitherto named possess one character in common. The darker markings of their plumage are longitudinal before the first real moult takes place, and for ever afterwards are transverse. In other words, when young the markings are in the form of stripes, when old in the form of bars. The variation of tint is very great, especially in F. peregrinus; but the experience of falconers, whose business it is to keep their birds in the very highest condition, shows that a falcon of either of these groups if light-coloured in youth is light-coloured when adult, and if dark when young is also dark when old - age, after the first moult, making no difference in the complexion of the bird. The next group is that of the so-called "desert falcons" (Gennaea), wherein the difference just indicated does not obtain, for long as the bird may live and often as it may moult, the original style of markings never gives way to any other. Foremost among these are to be considered the lanner and the saker (commonly termed F. lanarius and F. sacer), both well known in the palmy days of falconry, but only since about 1845 readmitted to full recognition. Both of these birds belong properly to south-eastern Europe, North Africa and south-western Asia. They are, for their bulk, less powerful than the members of the preceding group, and though they may be trained to high flights are naturally captors of humbler game. The precise number of species is very doubtful, but among the many candidates for recognition are especially to be named the lugger (F. :lugger) of India, and the prairie falcon (F. mexicanus) of the western plains of North America.

The systematist finds it hard to decide in what group he should place two somewhat large Australian species (F. hypoleucus It is not to be inferred, as many writers have done, that falcons habitually prey upon birds in which disease has made any serious progress. Such birds meet their fate from the less noble Accipitres or predatory animals of many kinds. But when a bird is first affected by any disorder, its power of taking care of itself is at once impaired, and hence in the majority of cases it may become an easy victim under circumstances which would enable a perfectly sound bird to escape from the attack even of a falcon.

and F. subniger), both of which are rare in collections - the latter especially.

A small but very beautiful group comes next - the merlins 2` (Aesalon of some writers, Lithofalco of others). The European merlin (F. aesalon) is perhaps the boldest of the Accipitres,. not hesitating to attack birds of twice its own size, and even on FIG. 2. - Merlin.

occasion threatening human beings. Yet it readily becomes tame, if not affectionate, when reclaimed, and its ordinary prey consists of the smaller Passeres. Its "pinion of glossy blue" has become almost proverbial, and a deep ruddy blush suffuses its lower parts; but these are characteristic only of the male - the female maintaining very nearly the sober brown plumage she wore when as a nestling she left her lowly cradle in the heather. Very close to this bird comes the pigeon-hawk (F. columbarius) of North America - so close, indeed, that none but an expert ornithologist can detect the difference. The turumti of AngloIndians (F. chicquera), and its representative from southern Africa (F. ruficollis), also belong to this group, but they are considerably larger than either of the former.

Lastly, the Hobbies (Hypotriorchis) comprise a greater number of forms - though how many seems to be doubtful..

FIG. 3. - Hobby.

They are in life at once recognizable by their bold upstanding position, and at any time by their long wings. The type of this group is the English hobby (F. subbuteo), a bird of great power of flight, chiefly shown in the capture of insects, which form its.

2 French, Emerillon; Icelandic, Smirill. ordinary food. It is a summer visitant to most parts of Europe, including the British Islands, and is most wantonly and needlessly destroyed by gamekeepers. A second European species of the group is the beautiful F. eleonorae, which hardly comes farther north than the countries bordering the Mediterranean, and, though in some places abundant, is an extremely local bird. The largest species of this section seems to be the Neotropical F. femoralis, for F. diroleucus though often ranked here, is now supposed to belong to the group of typical falcons. (A. N.)

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While few clean birds are named in the Old Testament (see Poultry), there are given in Lev. xi. (13-19) and Deut. xiv. (12-21) two parallel lists of birds of prey, the former passage mentioning twenty, and the latter twenty-one. The generic name for raptorial birds is "'ayiṭ" (Gen 15:11; Isa 18:6; Jer 12:9; Ezek 39:4; Job 28:7; Isa 46:11 [a metaphor]). This large number of names, as also the frequent allusions in metaphors and proverbial expressions to the habits of birds, shows that, though forbidden as food, they were nevertheless objects of close observation and contemplation. They were also cherished, it seems, for the beauty of their plumage (1 Kg 10:22) and as pets for children (Job 40:29; comp. Baruch iii. 17). Appreciation of their cry is indicated in Ps 10412, and Eccl 12:4.

The Talmud, noting that "le-mino" (after its kind) follows the names of four of the unclean birds in the Pentateuchal lists, and identifying "ayyah" with "dayyah," assumes twenty-four unclean birds are intended; and adds: "There are in the East a hundred unclean birds, all of the hawk species" ("min ayyah"; Ḥul. 63b). Some of the birds of prey were trained to the service of man, the hawk, e.g., to pursue other birds (Shab. 94a). The claws of the griffin, the wings of the osprey, and the eggs of the ostrich were made into vessels (Ḥul. 25b; Rashi ad loc.; Kelim xvii. 14). Eggshells were used as receptacles for lamp-oil (Shab. 29b).

Bibliography: Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 168; Lewysohn, Z. T. p. 159.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
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Developer(s) Spectrum HoloByte
Publisher(s) Turbo Technologies
Release date TurboGrafx 16:
1992 (NA)
Genre Flight Simulator
Mode(s) Single player
Age rating(s) N/A
TurboGrafx 16
Platform(s) TurboGrafx 16
Media HuCard
TurboGrafx 16
Input Turbo Pad
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

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Simple English

File:USGS Prairie
Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Genus: Falco
Linnaeus, 1758

Falcons are small birds of prey and are related to hawks and eagles. They usually have pointed wings and long tails. Most falcons eat small mammals that they hunt using eyesight, although some species hunt other birds, which they take in flight. Like hawks, most falcons have dark gray or brown backs and wings, with white undersides. The Peregrine falcon is found over most of the world and is famous for hunting birds by diving down on them at 320 km/h (200 mi/h). It was nearly wiped out in North America by the use of pesticides, but has since made a recovery.


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