Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonora)
Eleonora'a Falcon is a migratory hawk, of medium size: they overwinter in East Africa (mainly Madagascar), moving in April into the Mediterranean. Greece hold 80% of the world population. It is called the Mavropetritis (the Black Falcon) locally – as well as Koustogerako (geraki = falcon), the Sea-Falcon or Varvaki.
The body length is only 36-40 cm, with a wingspan of 84-103 cm. It is jet black or black above and a reddish-brown below, with a barred chest. They rarely hunt by themselves, feeding off large insects (eg. beetles) or small birds. It is wont to nest on cliffs in natural cavities or crevices – preferring large islands or uninhabited islets. It is very desirous of isolation and so security.
Colonies in Crete are normally located on the off-shore islets – such as Dia (opposite Heraklion): the eastern end contains most of the nesting sites. The bird suffers from illegal hunting, tourist development of smaller islands where it nests, and again insecticides.