About the sculpture :
The Saker Falcon sculpture, located in Umm Al Emarat Park, was gifted by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, on the occasion of Mother’s Day. The sculptures, dubbed The Jewels of Abu Dhabi showcase Abu Dhabi’s rich natural heritage.
About the artist :
Gill Parker is a leader in the field of equine and wildlife sculptures, with many major commissions to her name. Her sculptures are eagerly sought by art collectors around the world and are in many public, private and royal collections. Gill was commissioned by EAD to create some of Abu Dhabi’s iconic species; the Hawksbill Turtle, Arabian Oryx, Dugong, Saker Falcon and Greater Flamingo sculptures. In doing so, she worked with and mentored a UAE artist, Azza Al Qubaisi, so that she may explore new techniques and bring these to her works in the UAE.
About the species :
The Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) is a small, powerful bird of prey with a broad wingspan for its size. The Falcon is equipped with sharp, curved talons for grasping prey, while their strong, hooked beak is used to tear its victim’s flesh. Their colour and pattern range from a uniform chocolate brown to a pale sandy colour with brown streaks, to almost pure white individuals.
Fun Facts :
1. Female Saker Falcons are noticeably larger than males
2. Saker Falcons use their powerful, hooked beak to sever their prey’s vertebral column.
3. Saker Falcons occupy abandoned nests of other bird species
4. A Saker Falcon’s life span is 15 to 20 years in captivity and 5 to 7 years in the wild
The species can be found in a wide range across the Palearctic region from Eastern Europe to Western China, with wintering or passage populations regularly recorded in the Mediterranean, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle-East and South Asia.
Saker Falcons are adapted to hunting close to the ground in open terrain, combining rapid acceleration with high maneuverability. They are sedentary, part-migratory or fully migratory, depending on the food supply. Migrant birds spend the winter in East Africa, Middle-East, southern Europe and southern Asia.
Saker Falcons lay their eggs between April and May using cliffs for nest sites, usually occupying abandoned nests. They lay two to six eggs. Eggs are incubated for approximately 30 days, mainly by the female while the male brings most of the food. Chicks fledge at 45–50 days old.
The Saker Falcon mainly hunts small mammals, particularly rodents, gerbils, jerboas, hamsters, voles and lemmings.
The main threat suffered by the species is habitat loss and degradation, illegal trapping and trade, poisoning and electrocution at electric pylons used for perching. Mortality also occurs from poisoned grain put out to combat high densities of rodents. This species is highly sought after by falconers and excessive trade has caused local extinctions through the capture of birds, particularly females, and theft of chicks.
The Saker Falcon is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.
The Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme was set up in 1995 by the late President of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The first release took place in 1995. Since then over a thousand of the species have been returned to the wild.
In the UAE, EAD has ensured the long-term survival of the species by establishing a vast network of protected areas that are the wintering areas for the species. In the UAE, federal laws ensure the conservation of the species. The UAE has also joined international agreements such as CMS (Convention on Migratory species) and CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
For over 20 years, EAD has been undertaking research and conservations efforts on breeding and migratory birds of the UAE, to know more click here.
EAD has also been protecting Abu Dhabi environmental quality, to know more click here.