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What is Falco Altaicus Menzbier?

June 16, 2010

The systematics of the Altay falcon (Falco altaicus/lorenzi) remains enigmatic. First reported in 1811, it has been treated as a gyrfalcon (F. rusticolus), a saker (F. cherrug), and two separate species (F. lorenzi and F. altaicus). Of 53 'altaicus' specimens examined, at least two are misidentified gyrfalcons, many are typical sakers, but 34 (the core group) are considered to be the true Altay falcon type. Adults have red, brown, and gray color morphs. The red (backed) morph closely resembles some eastern sakers; the chocolate and gray morphs resemble respective gyrfalcon morphs. While the true affinities of the Altay falcon will be resolved by molecular genetics, the ecological, geographical, and morphological information suggest that the core group represents a gyrfalcon-saker cross that is being swamped through back crosses with the saker. The breeding range of the core group (i.e., the Altay and Sayan Mountains) is much smaller than previously reported.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1995
Title What is Falco Altaicus Menzbier?
Authors D. H. Ellis
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Raptor Research
Index ID 5222620
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center