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Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) Facts:

Home | Nest Box Notes | Peregrine History at Nebraska's Capitol | Peregrine Biology | Photo Gallery | Hear a Peregrine | Kestrel Webcam | Peregrine News

Biology

  • Peregrine falcons are raptors - birds of prey.

  • They have an exciting and distinctive kak, kak, kak alarm call. Peregrine Falcon Call.

  • They specialize in eating a wide variety of birds, caught in flight.

  • They are distributed worldwide (except for Antarctica) and prefer habitat made up of steep cliffs and open space. The birds are highly adapted to city life, nesting on tall buildings and towers.

  • They are about the size and weight of crows. As with all raptors, females are larger than males, weighing 32-34 ounces, compared to the males' 18-20 ounces.

  • Females (falcons) and males (tiercels) share the same coloration - first year birds are chocolate brown with heavy streaking on their bellies; adults have slate blue backs, white breasts speckled with black, and a black distinctive "helmet" (crown and nape).

  • The female typically lays three to five eggs in April or May. She and her mate share the 33-day incubation duties, which include turning the eggs regularly.

  • Baby peregrines are called"eyases." At hatching they are scantly covered with white down and weigh about two ounces. Feathers replace their down coats in 3-5 weeks.

  • There are 19 Peregrine subspecies worldwide, 3 of which are found in North America.

Other Interesting Facts

  • They can achieve speeds about 60 MPH in level flight and can dive (stoop) at speeds over 200 MPH, making them nature's fastest bird!

  • The Arctic subspecies migrates an incredible distance from its nests on the north slope of Alaska east across northern Canada to Greenland to winter in Latin America, for a journey over 15,500 miles!

Conservation

  • Young falcons are banded for identification and population monitoring when they are about 20 days old. Juveniles leave the nest (fledge) when they're about 45 days old.

  • The first year of life is statistically the most perilous for the Peregrine, when its mortality rate is about 60%. Peregrines may live 12 - 15 years in the wild.

  • Peregrine Falcons were listed as an endangered species in 1970. By 1975, only 324 pairs were found in North America.

  • Populations plummeted in the 1970s and 1980s due to the pesticide DDT, which caused eggshell thinning.

  • In August 1999, the Peregrine falcon was taken off the endangered species list as a result of conservation efforts and protection from the Endangered Species Act. At that time, 1,650 pairs were found in North America, far exceeding the recovery goal of 631 pairs. The continued success of Peregrine falcons is dependent on the human commitment to responsible wildlife stewardship!

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