Skip to content Skip to footer

Meet The National Bird of The United Arab Emirates: The Saker Falcon

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a land where ancient sands of the Arabian Peninsula meet the architectural wonders of modern times, takes pride in its national bird, the Saker Falcon.

This majestic bird of prey is not only a symbol of the Emirati spirit but also an integral part of its cultural heritage. Known for its astounding speed and hunting skills, the Saker Falcon represents strength, freedom, and dignity.

A lesser-known fact about this fascinating bird is its incredible adaptability to various environments, from the arid deserts of the Middle East to the vast steppes of Central Asia, showcasing the resilience and versatility mirrored in the spirit of the UAE.

Quick Info About The Saker Falcon

Scientific Name:Falco cherrug
Average Size:45–57 cm (18–22 in)
Average Wingspan:97–126 cm (38–50 in)
Average Weight:Males: 730–990 g (26–35 oz), Females: 970–1,300 g (34–46 oz)
Average Lifespan:13–20 years (in the wild)
Geographical Range:Central Europe, Asia, Middle East
Habitat:Open grasslands, steppes, deserts
Conservation Status:Endangered (IUCN Red List)

Meet The Saker Falcon, National Bird of The United Arab Emirates

The Saker Falcon is a large falcon, notable for its powerful build and striking appearance. Its plumage varies from brown to grey, often streaked with darker shades, and features a distinctive dark ‘moustache’ mark extending from its eyes. Sexual dimorphism is present, with females typically larger and darker than males.

In the ecosystem, the Saker Falcon sits at the top of the food chain. As a skilled predator, it feeds primarily on birds and small mammals, often captured in mid-air or after a high-speed pursuit. This raptor plays a critical role in controlling the populations of its prey, thus maintaining the balance in its habitat.

Predators of the Saker Falcon are rare, given its position as an apex predator. However, its eggs and chicks can be vulnerable to predation by other birds and mammals. The Saker Falcon’s role in the ecosystem is as a regulator, ensuring the health and balance of the species it preys upon, and in turn, influencing the overall health of its habitat.

UAE Saker Falcon

Where Does The Saker Falcon Live?

The Saker Falcon thrives in a variety of environments, illustrating its remarkable adaptability. Its natural habitat spans from the open grasslands and steppes of Central Asia to the arid deserts of the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates.

In these regions, the Saker Falcon prefers open landscapes where it can utilize its exceptional hunting skills, often avoiding densely forested areas.

In the UAE, the Saker Falcon is commonly found in desert environments and semi-arid areas, where it can soar high in search of prey. The climate in these regions is typically hot and dry, which suits the falcon’s ability to navigate and hunt in such conditions. This adaptability to different environments is a testament to the Saker Falcon’s resilience and survival skills.

Why and When Did The Saker Falcon Become The National Bird of The UAE?

The Saker Falcon was designated as the national bird of the UAE due to its significant cultural and historical importance in the region. Falconry, the art of hunting with falcons, has been a vital part of Arab heritage and tradition for thousands of years.

The Saker Falcon, in particular, is revered for its strength, speed, and beauty, symbolizing the qualities of endurance, determination, and freedom – values deeply ingrained in Emirati culture.

The bird’s elevation to a national symbol is rooted in these cultural connections. It embodies the spirit of the nation and its people’s close relationship with nature.

The Saker Falcon’s association with falconry also represents a link between the past and present, highlighting the UAE’s efforts to preserve its rich cultural heritage in a rapidly modernizing world.

There are no significant controversies or debates regarding the Saker Falcon’s status as the national bird of the UAE. The bird is widely respected and admired, and its designation as a national symbol is a source of pride for the country.

UAE Saker Falcon

Where is The Saker Falcon Featured in The UAE?

The Saker Falcon holds a prestigious position in the United Arab Emirates, prominently displayed on the national emblem, symbolizing strength, heritage, and the nation’s ties to falconry. This esteemed bird is also featured on the 500 dirham banknote, further emphasizing its significance as a national symbol.

In addition to these formal representations, the Saker Falcon is deeply integrated into the culture of the UAE. Recognizing the importance of falcons in Emirati culture, airlines such as Etihad and Emirates have policies that allow falcons on board on all Etihad flights and on Emirates flights to certain destinations, reflecting the bird’s esteemed status in the region.

The Saker Falcon’s presence in these various aspects of Emirati life highlights not only its cultural and historical importance but also the UAE’s commitment to preserving and honoring its rich heritage. The bird’s depiction on national symbols and its integration into modern practices like air travel demonstrate the deep respect and admiration the country holds for this majestic bird.

Names of The Saker Falcon

The Saker Falcon, scientifically known as Falco cherrug, is known by various names across different regions. In the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Peninsula, it is commonly called “Hur,” which translates to “Free-bird” in Arabic, symbolizing freedom and independence. This name reflects the deep cultural connection and reverence the Arab people have for this bird.

In other parts of its range, the Saker Falcon is known by different local names. For example, in parts of Central Asia, it might be referred to in local dialects in terms that highlight its hunting prowess or distinctive appearance. Folk names often emphasize the bird’s characteristics, such as its speed, strength, or coloration.

Is The Saker Falcon Endangered?

The Saker Falcon is currently classified as Endangered by BirdLife International and the IUCN. The primary threats to this species include habitat loss, illegal trapping for falconry, and environmental degradation. The bird is especially vulnerable in its central Asian breeding grounds, where population declines have been most notable.

Conservation efforts for the Saker Falcon are robust, especially in the UAE. The International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) is one of the notable organizations working towards the conservation of the Saker Falcon and its primary prey, the Houbara bustard.

The UAE has also implemented legal frameworks to control the illegal trade of these birds and participates in international collaborations for their conservation. Additionally, captive breeding programs in various countries, including the United States, Canada, and Europe, are crucial for maintaining the population of the Saker Falcon.

UAE Saker Falcon

Interesting Facts About The Saker Falcon

  1. Impressive Speed: The Saker Falcon is the second fastest bird in level flight, capable of reaching speeds up to 150 km/h (93 mph), and can dive at nearly 300 km/h (190 mph).
  2. Falconry Symbol: This bird has been integral to the tradition of falconry in the Arabian Peninsula for over 9,000 years, symbolizing status and heritage.
  3. Nesting Habits: Saker Falcons usually don’t build their own nests; they often use old nests of other large birds like storks or ravens.
  4. Dietary Adaptation: Their diet mainly consists of birds and small mammals, showcasing their adaptability in different habitats.
  5. Cultural Icon: The Saker Falcon is featured on the UAE’s national emblem and the 500 dirham banknote, underlining its national importance.
  6. Conservation Efforts: Innovative conservation strategies, like the Falcon Passport program, facilitate the movement of falcons across borders for falconry and conservation purposes.
  7. Symbiotic Relationships: In their ecosystem, Saker Falcons help control populations of certain prey species, maintaining ecological balance.

Other Beautiful Birds Native To The United Arab Emirates

  • Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamiceps): Known for its sociable behavior and melodious song, this bird is commonly found in arid scrub and vegetation areas in the UAE.
  • Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus): Iconic for its pink feathers, the Greater Flamingo is often seen in the wetlands and coastal areas of the UAE.
  • Pallid Scops Owl (Otus brucei): A nocturnal bird with distinctive ear tufts and a soothing call, it’s found in desert areas and palm groves.
  • Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii): Adapted to desert life, this bird is known for its remarkable ability to absorb water through its feathers.
  • Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus): Often heard before it’s seen, this bird is known for its loud calls and is found in open cultivated areas and scrublands.
UAE Saker Falcon

What Is Another National Animal of The United Arab Emirates?

The Arabian Oryx, also known as the White Oryx (Oryx leucoryx), is a national animal of the UAE, alongside the Saker Falcon. This antelope, with its striking white coat and long, sharp horns, is a symbol of beauty, endurance, and grace in the Arabian desert.

Once on the brink of extinction in the wild, the Arabian Oryx has made a remarkable comeback thanks to conservation efforts led by countries like the UAE. The Arabian Oryx is now a living emblem of wildlife preservation and the UAE’s commitment to protecting its natural heritage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can a Saker Falcon live in the wild?

Saker Falcons typically live for around 13 to 20 years in the wild.

Is falconry still practiced in the UAE?

Yes, falconry is a revered tradition in the UAE and continues to be practiced as a cultural sport, with the Saker Falcon being one of the preferred species.

Can Saker Falcons be found in urban areas of the UAE?

While Saker Falcons primarily inhabit open landscapes and deserts, they can occasionally be spotted in urban areas, particularly on the outskirts of cities.

What are the main threats to the Saker Falcon population?

The main threats include habitat loss, illegal trapping for falconry, and environmental degradation.

Are there any special measures taken by the UAE to protect the Saker Falcon?

Yes, the UAE has implemented several conservation measures, including legal protections, breeding and release programs, and international collaborations for the conservation of the Saker Falcon.

Other National Symbols of The United Arab Emirates

Leave a Comment