Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug)

Threats according to BirdLife International:

In Europe, this species has suffered mainly from the loss and degradation of steppes and dry grasslands through agricultural intensification, plantation establishment and declines in sheep pastoralism, causing a decline in key prey species; offtake for falconry is a serious problem, which has caused local extinctions (Baumgart 1991, 1994). In eastern Hungary, landscape reversion following the abandonment of agriculture could have a negative influence, as most prey species require short swards that are maintained by agricultural practices. Elsewhere, declines are mainly attributable to offtake for falconry, although persecution, pesticide use (notably in Mongolia in 2003) and agrochemical deployment play a lesser part (Baumgart 1991, Remple 1994, Barton 2000, Fox 2002, Haines 2002, ERWDA 2003). The number trapped annually for Middle East falconers has been estimated at 4,000 in Saudi Arabia, 1,000 in Qatar and 500-1,000 in each of Bahrain, Kuwait and U.A.E., which, allowing for a 5% mortality prior to receipt, indicates an annual consumption of 6,825-8,400 birds (Fox 2002, ERWDA 2003). Of these, the great majority (77%) were believed to be juvenile females, followed by 19% adult females, 3% juvenile males and 1% adult males, potentially creating a major bias in the wild population (Fox 2002, ERWDA 2003). Another study, however, gives a far lower estimate for numbers legally trapped in Saudi Arabia, at an average of 22 birds per year in the period 2002-2009 (M. Shobrak in litt. 2015). Hybridisation with escaped or released hybrid falcons could influence the genetic integrity of wild populations. On the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau in China, policies to control rodents and herding practices, along with the development of hydroelectric dams and human settlements with electricity power infrastructure, have the potential to impact the population (A. Dixon in litt. 2012).

Distribution map

: Birdlife International


LIFE-projects focusing on this species:

  • BSPB LIFE+ SAVE THE RAPTORS - Conservation of imperial eagle and saker falcon in key Natura 2000 sites in Bulgaria, LIFE07 NAT/BG/000068
  • Falco cherrug-Hu/SK - Conservation of Falco cherrug in the Carpathian basin, LIFE06 NAT/H/000096
  • Falco cherrug B-H-R-S - Conservation of Falco cherrug in Northeast Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, LIFE09 NAT/HU/000384
  • RAPTORSPREYLIFE - Securing prey sources for endangered Falco cherrug and Aquila heliaca population in the Carpathian basin, LIFE13 NAT/HU/000183



Baumgart, W. 1991. Der Sakerfalke.

Baumgart, W. 1994. Saker Falco cherrug. In: Tucker, G.M.; Heath, M.F. (ed.), Birds in Europe: their conservation status, pp. 198-199. BirdLife International (Conservation Series 3), Cambridge, UK.

Barton, N. W. H. 2000. Trapping estimates for Saker and Peregrine Falcons used for falconry in the United Arab Emirates. Journal of Raptor Research 34: 53-55.

Dixon, A. 2012. Conservation of the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) and the use of hybrids for falconry. Aquila 119: 9-19.

ERWDA. 2003. The status of the Saker Falcon (Falcon cherrug) and assessment of trade. Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Fox, N. 2002. The conservation of the Saker Falcon (Falcon cherrug) and the role of CITES in UAE 2002. Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Haines, G. 2002. An assessment of the impact of trade on the Saker Falcon.

Nittinger, F.; Gamauf, A.; Pinsker, W.; Wink, M.; Haring, E. 2007. Phylogeography and population structure of the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) and the influence of hybridization: mitochondrial and microsatellite data. Molecular Ecology 16: 1497-1517.

Shobrak, M. Y. 2015. Trapping of Saker Falcon Falco cherrug and Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus in Saudi Arabia: Implications for biodiversity conservation. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 22: 491-502.