Escaped birds of prey and their origin
As more and more people are able to buy birds of prey the number of escaped birds of prey
is increasing dramatically. Commercial breeders sell hybrid birds unlikely to ever exist in
the wild such as Gyr x Saker falcons or birds unlikely to occur in the region where they are
being sold such as birds of African or Asian origin in northern Europe. When confronted with
such birds it is very difficult to decide what they are. In this section we will show pictures of
such birds and we welcome your opinion as to what birds they are: hybrids or real species.
Most of the birds we come across have rings. If you recognize a ring let us know. Here is our first
bird. Is it hybrid and if so of what parentage or is it a genuine Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus?

photo 1a,b,c,d/copyright: Norman Deans van Swelm

Falcon 19022008 Oostvoorne, The Netherlands

Falcon 19022008 1 Oostvoorne.jpg1a Peter Wilkinson comments:

Gyr x Saker, I think. It's a relatively popular combination. I've seen quite a lot in captivity over the years (more hybrids than pure Gyr, in fact) and a good proportion look basically like your bird, but they can vary. A breeder I once met specialised in producing really dark ones, where the parentage was much less obvious.

I don't think it's pure Gyr, though I don't doubt one could look like
this plumage-wise. Bill and head don't look quite massive enough and the
wings look a little long in relation to the tail. The blue cere, incidentally, doesn't mean it is a bird hatched last year - Gyr in particular can keep blue ceres for some years.

Interesting. Saker and Gyr are so close genetically that I have heard one geneticist describe Gyr as "Arctic Saker" and Saker as "Desert Gyr"!
I am much more familiar with Saker and hybrids in captivity than pure
Gyr. Sakers can be pretty variable, and it would only take your bird to be a bit warmer brown all over to be virtually indistinguishable from
many of the pure Sakers I have seen.

Falcon 19022008 2 Oostvoorne.jpg

Falcon 19022008 1b Oostvoorne, The Netherlands c Norman Deans v Swelm

Falcon 19022008 3 Oostvoorne.jpg

Falcon 19022008 1c Oostvoorne, The Netherlands c Norman Deans v Swelm

Falcon 19022008 Oostvoorne.jpg

Falcon 19022008 1d Oostvoorne, The Netherlands c Norman Deans v Swelm

photo 2a,b,c,d/copyright: Renee Eelsing 

The falcon below was found by the public and

delivered to the birdhospital in The Hague.

Falcon 2 head 1 11092007 The Hague, The Netherlands.jpg

Falcon 2 head 1 11092007 The Hague, The Netherlands

Falcon 2 front 11092007 The Hague,The Netherlands.jpg

Falcon 2 front 11092007 The Hague, The Netherlands

Falcon 2  side 11092007 The Hague,The Netherlands.jpg

Falcon 2 side 11092007 The Hague, The Netherlands

Falcon 2 11092007 The Hague,The Netherlands.jpg

Falcon 2 11092007 The Hague, The Netherlands

photo 3a,b,c/copyright: Norman D. van Swelm

The falcon here below was found on the Maasvlakte in the

western part of The Port of Rotterdam on 4th October 2007. 

Falcon 3 04102007 3 Port of Rotterdam,The Netherlands.jpg

Falcon 3 04102007 3 Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands c Norman Deans v Swelm

Falcon 3 04102007 2 Port of Rotterdam,The Netherlands.jpg

Falcon 3 04102007 2 Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands c Norman Deans v Swelm

Falcon 3 04102007 Port of Rotterdam,The Netherlands.jpg

Falcon 3 04102007 Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands c Norman Deans v Swelm

photo 4a,b,c/copyright: Ellen Sandberg

This falcon was also photographed in the western part of the

Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and very briefly seen.

Falcon 4 291020 abc Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands c Ellen Sandberg.jpg

Falcon 4a,b,c 29-10-2006 Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands c Ellen Sandberg


merlin falco columbarius >

an interesting falcon >

escaped birds of prey and their origin >

hobby Falco subbuteo >

how a Peregrine lost it's prey to a Kestrel >

Peregrine Falco peregrinus >

The Peregrine of North America >

    11 jan 2014