Saker Falcon

Saker falcon perching on a branch

Saker falcon. Photo by unknown.

The Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) is a medium-sized bird of prey. The once common species, with a global population estimated at tens of thousands of pairs, has grown increasingly rare, and in some areas, completely extinct. Today, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the Saker Falcon as “Endangered,” the only falcon species termed as such.  Similarly, the Red Book of Kazakhstan classifies the Saker Falcon as “Endangered,” attributable to a precipitous drop in population in the country, estimated to be upwards of 90 percent.

The Saker Falcon’s color varies greatly—from very light to very dark—depending on its region of habitat and individually.  The birds live up to 18–20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity. The raptor is a universal hunter, overtaking victims both on the ground and in the air. It successfully hunts rodents, hares and pikas, small and medium-sized birds, and even reptiles.

The number of Saker Falcons in Kazakhstan decreased by 73-79 percent from 1990-2012. In 2012, the country’s population was estimated at 1,000-1,500 breeding pairs. As of 2023, the number of Saker Falcons in Kazakhstan was estimated to be less than 650 pairs.