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  1. #1
    SENIOR MEMBER milvipes's Avatar

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    The myth of Altai falcon Falco (cherrug? rusticolus?) altaicus



    The saker (獵隼) is a common large falcon of the steppes and deserts of Eurasia.
    The gyrfalcon (矛隼 or 海東青) is a huge falcon that breeds in the Arctic tundra.
    Eastern populations of saker (those found in China and Mongolia) often exhibit traits that are more in commmon with gyrfalcon than with saker from Europe. This lead to many wild speculations on the origin of these strange falcons. Some say they were the remnant of gyrfalcons and their hybridized descendents (sakers & gyrfalcons are so closely related they can produce FERTILE offsprings) that managed to penetrate into the Chinese steppes during a past inter-glacial. Other speculated that it was the result of millenia of Chinese falconry tradition, in that many gyrfalcons used in falconry were eventually freed at the end of hunting seasons. Recent molecular studies, however, indicate otherwise. Initial mtDNA tests have shown no gyrfalcon influence from mothers' side. Subsequent tests using microsatellite also failed to show gyrfalcon influence. So what contributed to the gyr-like appearance?

    親親


    Same couple in western Manchuria


    Male from the couple


    Female from the couple


    A darker specimen from Xinjiang


    An almost completely black specimen from Xinjiang

    All photos are taken by amateur Chinese bird watchers and therefore are not copyrighted.
    Last edited by milvipes; 03-18-2012 at 04:46 PM.

  2. #2
    SENIOR MEMBER milvipes's Avatar

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    Tibetan saker

    Yet curiously, the gyr-like colorations are almost absent in the Tibetan population, even though these are as different from their Euopean conspecifics as North Chinese birds are.


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