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Lugger Falcon

Falco jugger

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39 - 46cm

0.9 - 1.1m

0.5 - 1.1kg

5 - 15 yrs

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The lugger falcon, officially known as the lagger falcon, is a medium-sized bird of prey found across the Indian subcontinent. Its name is derived from the Hindi जग्गर (“jagger”), meaning “falcon”. It is one of four known “hierofalcons”, making it a close relative of the lanner, saker and gyrfalcon.

Near Threatened

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NT

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It is physically similar to the lanner falcon, being roughly the same size. The adult lugger is less “reddish” by comparison, generally having slate-grey upperparts and plain whitish underparts (though keeping a rusty red “cap”). The juveniles are a dark brown with brown-blotched underparts. However, variations are quite common, making identification difficult.

What Does it Look Like?

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What Does it Sound Like?

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Its vocalisations don’t appear to be well-studied. It can be assumed that they are similar to the other hierofalcons, which have a primary “kyak” or “kak” call fittingly known as “kakking”. These calls are repeated and may vary slightly depending on the intended meaning. They can also make harsher sounds when feeling threatened.

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Like similar falcons, it is specifically adapted for catching prey mid-flight. As a result, birds make up most it diet, mainly songbirds and game birds. However it will also take other flying prey like bats and large insects, and has been known to target grounded prey on occasion. In fact, lizards are thought to be a valuable food source during the nesting season.

What Does it Eat?

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Where Does it Nest?

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As with other hierofalcons, the lugger does not build its own nest and will instead resuse an old stick nest abandoned by another bird of prey or raven. They choose a site on a cliff ledge or atop a tall tree or building. Three or four eggs are laid, which are then incubated by both parents for one month. The chicks are generally fully fledged by 8 weeks.

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It is found largely across India and its surrounding area, including Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, north-west Myanmar and the south-eastern tip of Afghanistan. However, it is so scarce that some sightings are thought to be one-off incidents. It usually lives in dry, open areas with light vegetation. As such, it often creeps into farmland and small villages,

Where Does it Live?

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What is its Status?

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Arguably, the lugger’s categorisation of Near Threatened is perhaps poorly justified. With only 10,000 mature individuals and a rapidly declining population, the species is much rarer than it used to be. Reasons include the environmental impact of intense pesticide use and the falconry trade, where young luggers are mistaken for the saker falcon and illegally poached.

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