Protected By The Queen In 1392

Eleonora’s falcon in flight (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

29 December 2021

In 1392 Queen Eleanor of Arborea (west-central Sardinia) was the first ruler in history to grant protection to hawk and falcon nests against illegal hunters. A falcon species that nests on Sardinia was named in her honor — Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae).

Eleonora’s falcon looks like a small slender peregrine falcon with long pointed wings, long tail and slim body. From below in flight it looks different from a peregrine whose underwings are completely striped (click here for a peregrine in flight). Instead it has the color pattern of a turkey vulture with dark wing linings and gray flight feathers (click here for a turkey vulture).

We will never see an Eleonora’s falcon in North America because they nest only on islands in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Tunisia. All of them spend the winter in Madagascar but no one knew how they got there until satellite tracking revealed that some fly through the heart of Africa.

Migration routes of Eleonora’s falcon (map from Wikimedia Commons)

See a video of nesting Eleonora’s falcons and read about Queen Eleanor who gave women inheritance rights and set an unusual punishment for rapists.

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