Aleth or Eleanor's falcon
ALET (Falco eleonorae) is a large species close to the hobby - widespread in the Mediterranean. The total length of Eleanor's falcon is 32-38 cm. In color, the alet is similar to the common hobby, but there is also a dark monotonous brown variation. Alet nests in groups or in colonies on coastal rocks.
Knights were not only kings and warriors, but also scientists. One of them, Genet, described in 1839 a bird that he named Eleanor's falcon. It was the first European bird to be named after a woman - Princess Eleanor of Arborea, who, in the 14th century, included a decree on the protection of falcons in the code of laws of the island of Sardinia. This falcon is small, its length is only about 40 centimeters, of which 15 falls on the tail, but the span of narrow sickle-shaped wings is striking - 130 centimeters! And the beak of this bird is the largest in the falcon family. The graceful appearance of the falcon is combined with an amazing acrobatic flight. It glides on air currents along coastal cliffs, dives vertically to the sea, sweeps over the waves and soars into the sky again. Eleanor's falcons are true seabirds, nesting on the shores of islands in the Mediterranean, Aegean and Adriatic seas and in Tunisia. Unlike most predators that prefer solitude, they settle in colonies of 50–100 pairs. Back in the middle of the 19th century, Eleanor's falcon was considered a rare species; recent studies have shown that about 4500 pairs of these birds now live in the Mediterranean. Of course, in all civilized states they are protected, but poachers are not extinct yet.
Now there are no special falcons in Malta, but who knows what predatory birds nested there at the beginning of the 16th century. After all, all the birds mentioned are beautiful, all are valuable, and each could serve as a model for the precious Maltese falcon.