article by Pete Jungemann)
Falcons (Falco pelegrinoides) are small to medium sized falcons from
extreme northern Africa and the lower Middle East. In the extreme
northeast portion of it’s range it tends to mingle somewhat with the
similar (but slightly larger) Red-naped Shaheen (Falco babylonicus) at the
extreme southwest part of the shaheen’s range.
Falcon and the Red-naped Shaheen have long been utilized by falconers of
the region. Both species tend to inhabit some of the bleakest environments
that a falcon is known to live. The terrain of the area is typically
desolate and arid. Temperatures tend to be extreme, being typically very
warm to hot during the day, but can be very cold during the night due to
the dryness and lack of vegetation. The Barbary tends to have large home
ranges that may encompass many, but very scattered, oasises that are
visited on a regular basis in their search for prey.
to their environment, this species of falcon has evolved into a powerful
predator. They are very “driven” birds, highly enthusiastic about
flying and the chase, with great stamina, speed and aerobatic abilities.
In many ways they appear to combine the high-flying style of the close
relative the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the Merlin (Falco
they tend to be different from the Peregrine in their response to the
falconer. They are more likely to be sweet natured, easily handled and
more easily trained than the Peregrine. Training for “waiting-on”
style flights are rather easily accomplished with the Barbary as they like
to fly high, and with their considerable acceleration and enthusiasm for
the chase, position is rarely a problem. In fact, some of the best flights
I’ve witnessed with this species has been when the falcon was encouraged
to be so far out of position that most falcons wouldn’t even consider
such a setup as a viable slip! The Barbary loves a challenging setup on
difficult quarry. The more fleet and evasive the quarry, the more the
Barbary tends to fixate on these species.
dimorphism is very pronounced in this species. Tiercel Barbaries tend to
have flying weight ranges from 370-490 grams (13-17 oz.), falcons tending
to be 590-700 grams (21-25 oz.).
Barbaries tend to have very good appetites as such
a “busy” flier can require considerable fuel for their activities. As
falconry birds, Barbaries have been flown on a wide variety of quarries
ranging from sparrows, starlings, snipe, doves, quail, partridges, ducks
of various species ranging from teal to mallard, and perhaps strong
falcons could take pheasant.
the evolution of this species it has incredible capacity to function even
in the seasonally warm areas of the sunbelt...particularly the southwest
areas of the U.S.. I have flown them in 100 degree temperatures, and down
to the 30 degree daytime highs temperatures in winter. When the
temperatures go to the upper end of the scale, the Barbary responds by
flying so high at times that they disappear from binocular view. At this
altitude they are in considerably more comfortable temperatures and will
return to such pitches after a miss just to cool off.
a bird that has learned this trick can cause many falconers to develop
‘nerves of steel’ just to fly their bird. But it is part of the
package and it may be difficult for some falconers to accept and even less
for some falconers to adjust to the Barbaries flight capabilities.
Reining in such exuberance requires considerable discipline on the
part of the falconer and will definitely be the biggest challenge when
dealing with the Barbary Falcon. I have found this species to have
considerable talents and well worth the occasional telemetry drills that
they have become known for by modern falconers.
style the Barbary tends to have a powerful stroke with considerable and
obvious ‘snap’ to their wing beat. They have a heavily loaded wingload
for their body size and as a consequence they must flap often to remain
airborne. Their primaries are long but their secondaries are short giving
them a strong ‘sickle-winged’ look. Their shortish tapered tail tends
to enhance the overall visual effect which has shown to be very
intimidating to certain quarries! They do tend to favor high pitches and,
while they may prefer vertical stoops at times, their speed and drive are
most evident in slips that provide for a slightly angled shot at fleeing
quarry. Flights that begin from such angles tend to allow the Barbary to
use it’s considerable speed, but also to recover and begin to assault
the quarry should the initial attack fail. They have a distinctive outrun
attack that is quite stylish which involves a ‘zig-zag’ strike across
the flight path of the evading quarry which is initiated during the
earliest portions of the pitch out. It can have a demoralizing effect on
the quarry as they are battered and ripped from side to side, over and