The Lanner falcon is a medium-sized but powerful bird of prey. European lanner falcons have slate grey or brown-grey upperparts; most African subspecies are a paler blue-grey above. Northern birds have a streaked breast and a reddish back to the head. Lanner falcons have long pointed wings and short tails. Their powerful beak is hooked and is greyish-blue in color.
Lanner falcons are found throughout most of Africa, southeast Europe, Turkey, and Asia Minor. They prefer to live in an open habitat dominated by rocky cliffs. They inhabit savanna, lowland deserts, grassland, forested mountains and can even be found in plantations.
Lanner falcons are diurnal meaning that they are active during the daylight hours. They live in pairs and often hunt in groups. Lanner falcons are fast and agile flyers and usually hunt by horizontal pursuit; they take mainly bird prey in flight. They also follow human hunters sometimes, taking prey that they flush and are known to steal food from other birds of prey. Like all raptors, these strong hunters have very keen sight and their call is a harsh "wray-e". Lanner falcons are mainly resident, but some birds disperse more widely after the breeding season.
Lanner falcons are monogamous and form life-lasting pair bonds. Their breeding season varies depending on the geographical region. Lanner falcons don't build nests and the female lays 3 to 4 eggs, usually on a cliff ledge nest, or occasionally in an old stick nest in a tree. Both parents incubate the eggs for about 4 weeks. Once hatched the chicks will fledge in 5-6 weeks and will become completely independent from their parents in about 2 months. Young Lanner falcons usually become reproductively mature at 1-2 years of age.
Lanner falcons are very common in Africa; however declining populations make them endangered at the European level. The reasons for these declines are habitat loss, and elevated pesticide use. These birds also suffer from human disturbance; the eggs are stolen from nests for collectors, zoos, and tourists and the birds themselves are shot by hunters seeking larks or trying to control the populations of "pest" birds like corvids. Rock climbers also disturb breeding sites and this causes birds to abandon their nests.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Lanner falcon total population size. According to the IUCN Red List, the European population of the Lanner falcon is estimated at 430-840 pairs, which equates to 850-1,700 mature individuals. According to the University of Michigan (Museum of Zoology) resource, there are fewer than 1,400 breeding pairs of the Lanner falcon exist in the world. Currently, Lanner falcons are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are increasing.