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Order Falcons/Falconiformes, Family Falcons/Falconidae

Eleonora's Falcon/Falco eleonorae - Adult

L 36-42 cm, WS 87-104 cm. Summer visitor (late Apr/May-Oct), winters in Africa. In Britain, vagrant twice. Breeds colonially on mainly Mediterranean islands and coastal cliffs. Breeding postponed until late summer-autumn to coincide with autumn migration of small passerines, which are caught over sea. Food small birds. Nests on cliff-ledge or in rock crevice.
IDENTIFICATION: Medium-large, with long, comparatively narrow wings, long tail and rather slim body. Like a large Hobby or slim male Peregrine, but separated from both by longer tail and from the latter by proportionately longer and narrower wings. However, the difference does not always appear significant, e.g. at long range or from tricky angles, and it is unwise invariably to expect immediate recognition by silhouette alone; a prolonged and more all-embracing observation, or closer range, will be conclusive, though. Flight relaxed, with soft but forceful wingbeats (recalling male skua Stercorarius!), but very quick in pursuit-flight. Spends much time gliding on flattish wings, looking out for prey over the sea. - Adult, light morph: In plumage resembles juvenile Hobby, but separated by contrast between very dark underwing-coverts and paler grey bases to flight-feathers; also, underbody is deeper rufous-buff or rusty-brown (not buff-white). - Adult, dark morph: Entirely dark brownish-black but, just as light morph, shows contrast between blackish underwing-coverts and somewhat paler bases to flight-feathers. - Juvenile: Rather similar to juvenile Hobby, but distinguished by silhouette, size, and paler bases to barred flight-feathers below, contrasting with dark wing-tip and wing-coverts. Rich buff below, finely streaked dark. Throat buffish, not so white as on Hobby.
VOICE: Main call a nasal, somewhat grating ‘kyeh kyeh kyeh kyah’. Various sharp notes as alarm in vicinity of nest, e.g. ‘kak kak’ and ‘kekekeke…’.

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