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Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae

This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and past declines are not believed to have been be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over 10 years or three generations). The population size is moderately small to large, and it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in 10 years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Population justification
In Europe (which covers >95% of the breeding range), the population is estimated at 14,300-14,500 pairs, which equates to 28,700-29,100 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). The North African population is estimated at approximately 250 pairs or 500 mature individuals (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Therefore the overall population is estimated at 29,200-29,600 mature individuals.

Trend justification
In Europe, which holds a large proportion of the global population, the population size is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).

Behaviour The species is fully migratory, leaving its Mediterranean breeding grounds in October and November to winter in Madagascar, East Africa and the Mascarene Islands. The return journey begins in late April and May (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Birds are known to fly as high as 1,000 m during the breeding season (Snow and Perrins 1998). They are generally gregarious (though sometimes solitary), tending to move in small and loose flocks, and on migration often associating with other species flying at high altitudes, including F. subbuteo (Snow and Perrins 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). They hunt mainly at twilight (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Habitat Birds usually breed and stop over on small islands and islets, wintering mainly in open woodland on Madagascar (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet It feeds on large flying insects and small birds (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site Birds nest in the holes and ledges of sea cliffs, or on the ground (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information The species appears to require very peaceful or uninhabited islands on which to breed, with direct exploitation and development both shown to be negative consequences of close proximity to people; effective protection has led to strong recoveries where implemented (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


The species has historically suffered from exploitation and persecution brought about by local people, including collecting chicks for food (Global Raptor Information Network 2015). Human disturbance associated with tourism development has also been shown to negatively influence birds' breeding success (Martínez et al. 2002, Orta and Kirwan 2014). Predation by rats is also possibly important on some breeding islands (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Accidental pesticide poisoning was thought to be responsible for a decline in the breeding population on Crete (Ristow and Xirouchakis 2000 and Ristow 2001 in Global Raptor Information Network 2015). The species is vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development (Strix 2012).

BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Global Raptor Information Network. 2015. Species account: Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae. Available at: (Accessed: 08/07/2015).

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Martínez-Abrain, A., Oro, D., Ferrís, V. and Belenguer, R. 2002. Is growing tourist activity affecting the distribution or number of breeding pairs in a small colony of the Eleonora's Falcon? Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 25(2): 47-51.

Orta, J. and Kirwan, G.M. 2014. Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

STRIX. 2012. Developing and testing the methodology for assessing and mapping the sensitivity of migratory birds to wind energy development. BirdLife International, Cambridge.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

International Action Plan

LIFE - NATURE 2003 Project

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Burfield, I., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Falco eleonorae. Downloaded from on 24/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Falconidae (Falcons, Caracaras)
Species name author G&eacute;n&eacute;, 1839
Population size 29200-29600 mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 140,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment