Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Troy W. Grovenburg


falconry, falcons, Middle East, nest survival, population status, trapped


Falcons (Falco spp.) are widely used for falconry in the countries of the Middle East. During the 2015 breeding season, we surveyed historic and active nest sites of Barbary (Falco pelegrinoides pelegrinoides) and Lanner (F. biarmicus) Falcons in Saudi Arabia. Field and questionnaire surveys were conducted and personal contact with falconers was made to document the current distribution and price changes for Lanner Falcons, Barbary Falcons, Saker Falcons (F. cherrug), Peregrine Falcons (F. peregrinus), Gyrfalcons (F. rusticolus), and Hybrid Falcons in Saudi Arabia. We categorized our survey into three geographic groups; southwest (A), northwest (B), and central (C) regions of the country. We visited 1,255 historic nest sites of Lanner Falcons and Barbary Falcons. No active Lanner Falcon nests were recorded in any of the survey sites. Approximately 14.7% (n = 111) of 725 Barbary Falcon nests were active. In 2015, 4% (n = 26) of inactive nests were occupied by an unpaired male. Productivity was 1.33 young fledged/pair, and nest success was 28.7% (n = 35, SE = 4.37, CI = 20.12–37.26). Nesting in the northwest declined approximately 7.69% from 2004. In 2015, we documented 9,092 falcons in captivity in Saudi Arabia. We sub-sampled 119 falcons to determine health; 36.1% were considered unhealthy while 63.9% were considered healthy. Approximately 95.5% of captive falcons died before the age of 6 and the average lifespan was 3 years (SE = 0.22, n = 169). At least 2,544 adult and juvenile Lanner and Peregrine Falcons were trapped and smuggled to the Middle East in the 2015 harvest season. In 2014, there were approximately 4,027 falcons trapped in the Middle East (Libya 35.0%, Arabian Gulf 15.5%, Iran 11.1%, Turkey 9.9%, Egypt 8.6%, Yemen 8.1%, Sudan 7.9%, and Jordan 3.4%). Average auction price of wild captured falcons increased between 2005−2014 by approximately 723% ($2,755 vs. $19,928 [USD]). The average value of a trained falcon in 2014 was $5,741 and the total value of captive falcons (n = 1,042) was $6,105,193. We identified an increase in falconry awareness; more than 93% of falconers agreed to the need for regulations and supported a release program. An increase in the number of falconers has led to increased trapping pressure as a consequence of rising falcon prices, an increase in the number of captive falcons, long-term and poor captive management, and strict enforcement of government regulation on falcon imports. All of these factors are contributing to falcon population declines. Our results indicate that falcons require protection and management in Saudi Arabia and more information on the present status of falcon populations in the countries of the Middle East is crucial for their conservation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Falcons -- Saudi Arabia

Falcons -- Middle East

Falconry -- Saudi Arabia

Falconry -- Middle East


Includes bibliographical references (page 79-80)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2016 Albara M. Binothman


The abstract is also available in Arabic.