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Fact Check: Know the truth behind the viral image showing “the flying path of a Falcon from SA to Finland”

Claim- A female falcon was tracked down as it migrated to Finland from South Africa over 42 days, crossing 10,000 km.

Fact- It’s an old image from the SAPeople report of the Durban tremor published in 2016. The report shows the faultline that coincidentally “is the same path the swallows migrate from SA to Finland annually.”

A message and an image circulating on social media claim that this is a trajectory of a European Honey Buzz, ‘a female falcon equipped with tracking devices.’ According to the accompanying headlines, the falcon was observed migrating from South Africa to Finland over 42 days, as shown by the satellite mapping.

You can see the viral posts here- 

Facebook- Here, Here, and Here.

Twitter- Here, Here and Here.

Tiktok- Here, Here, Here and Here.

Media news- India Times, The Ghana Report.

See screenshots here-

A viral image of the falcon flying route
courtesy: Twitter/ User
A viral image of the falcon flying route
courtesy: Facebook/ User


A viral image of the falcon flying route
courtesy: Tiktok/ User

Newschecker-Bangladesh found the claim to be false.


An illustration of satellite mapping has recently become viral over the internet and in various news media for the last few days. The viral posts claim that it’s an image of a route map of a European ‘Honey Buzz’ falcon which migrated to Finland from South Africa over 42 days and crossed an estimated distance of 10,000 km.

With the assistance of Google reverse image search and keyword search, we have determined the claim’s validity as false and unsubstantiated. 

While fact-checking the claim, this image turned out to be seven years old, which has been used several times over the years by various media, websites and social media users. 

Tracking the viral image 

The oldest record of the image was found in a South Africa-based news media called SAPeople. The report says an earthquake in 2016 in Durban caused a tremor in the Somali plate. The Somali plate has a fault line that stretches from east Africa, exiting through Durban. 

According to the report, the tremor line co-incidentally matched the path over which the swallow birds migrate. 

However, over the years, the image/illustration was published and used in several reports by various news media and social media users. These media reports claim the image shows the “mapping of a falcon migrating 10,000 km from South Africa to Finland over 42 days.”

Among them, India times published it in a report on Oct 11, 2021. The Ghanareport also published an article with the same claim using the viral image. Besides these media reports, this claim also appeared on websites such as Reddit, 9gag, etc.

A piece of article on the falcon flying route
courtesy: Media report/India Times
The viral photo of the falcon’s flying route
courtesy: Media report/The Ghana report

Tracing the viral image 

According to the oldest record published on SAPeople, the image said- ‘Coincidentally, as noticed by Samantha Melville on Facebook, it appears “the fault line is the same path the swallows migrate from SA to Finland annually!”

You can see both the Somali plate and swallow migration path images below:

The viral picture from the first ever report in the media. It said that it was the path following which the SA swallows fly
courtesy: Media report/SAPeople

The Somali Plate exiting through Durban
courtesy: Media report@ SAPeople

However, nothing was mentioned throughout the report, such as ‘scientists planted tracking devices in a falcon’, ‘crossed an estimated 10,000 km’ or ‘over 42 days.’

Expert’s Opinion

For a better understanding at this stage, we took the help of Ananda Banerjee, an eminent Ornithologist from India. We learned about the birds’ flyways and the image. According to Anand Banerjee, this is not a recent image. He added, ‘this is not a honey buzzard. Instead it is supposed to be a smaller raptor or a falcon.’ “I know there are many long distance records- birds from mainland Europe traveling way down to southern Africa.” 

He also said that he found the plotting a little bit strange too. With his guidance, we found relevant reports and articles that helped us further investigate.

What’s with the Honey Buzzard?

While searching with the keywords, we found a report about a Finnish honey buzzard which was GPS-tracked down.

According to a report published by Birdlife International, a Finnish Honey Buzzard was GPS-tracked down as a part of a post-doctoral research project led by researcher Elham Nourani from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour in Germany. These juvenile birds usually migrate from Europe to as far south as South Africa. Nevertheless, the honey buzzard being tracked down was shot dead near Rabat, Malta, three weeks after it started its journey.

The report says, 

A European Honey-buzzard which hatched in Finland earlier this summer and was being GPS-tracked as part of a post-doctoral research project into the migratory behaviour of Honey-buzzards, was shot down last Saturday near Rabat, Malta. An investigation by the police’s Environmental Protection Unit (EPU), assisted by officials from BirdLife Malta in collaboration with scientific researchers based in Germany and Finland, managed to track the exact location of the dead bird, retrieving the carcass of this migrant.

The report also tells us that the bird completed its migration over a few European countries before it reached Malta and was shot dead. However, the honey buzzard never made it to southern Africa. Read the original report here- Birdlife International

See the GPS perks of the Honey Buzzard’s journey-

The satellite image of the honey buzz falcon’s tracked route
courtesy: Media report/ Birdlife International

The GPS mapping of the Honey Buzzard shot dead after three weeks in Malta.

Despite having a few similarities between the claims and the reports, these two have many contradictions.

Nowhere in the report was it mentioned that the honey buzzard completed a 10,000 km journey over 42 days from SA to Finland. 

Though we have texted a few profiles named Samantha Melville to know the image’s origin, we are still waiting to hear back from them. We will update you when we get any information about the picture.

You can see the flyways of migratory birds of different regions in the below articles:

 The African-Eurasian Flyway

Central Asian Flyway


The claims associated with the viral image are confusing. The claim has been fabricated from fragmented pieces of information derived from various sources.

Result: Missing context 

If you would like us to fact-check a claim, give feedback, or lodge a complaint, email us at You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill out the form.


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