- Genus/Species: Falco peregrines.
- Conservation Status: Least Concern.
- Location: In every continent except Antarctica.
World’s Fastest Flying Birds
Peregrines prefer wide open spaces and thrive near coasts. They have blue-gray wings, dark brown backs, buff colored undersides with brown spots and white faces with a black tear stripe on their cheeks. They are the fastest flying birds in the world and can dive at up to 200 miles per hour! A peregrine falcon makes its nest, or scrape, on ledges and in small caves located high on a cliff. Some peregrine falcons migrate. Those that nest on Arctic tundra and winter in South America fly as many as 15,500 miles a year. They have an incredible homing instinct that leads them back to where they started from.
Peregrine falcons are around 15 inches long and weigh around 2 lbs. They are about the size and weight of a crow. Peregrine falcons catch medium-sized birds in the air with swift, spectacular dives, called stoops. Their diet is composed mostly of other birds. City-dwelling peregrine falcons consume pigeons and European starlings, while coastal falcons prey on ducks and shorebirds.
Around the middle of the 20th Century, peregrine falcons almost disappeared from eastern North America because of the poison from pesticides. Thanks to conservation efforts, peregrine falcons have made a comeback and are now regularly seen in many large cities and coastal areas. For more than a thousand years, the peregrine falcon has been one of the most prized birds in the sport of falconry.
Did You Know?
- Peregrine falcons may travel widely outside the nesting season- in fact, their scientific name comes from the Latin words ‘falco’, meaning "hook-shaped," possibly referring to the beak or claws, and ‘peregrinus’, meaning "to wander."
- Some peregrine falcons will use man-made structures such as bridges and skyscrapers to nest.
- Peregrine falcon chicks, called eyases, eat an incredible amount of food - in six days, they double their weight. At three weeks, they are ten times their size at birth.
- Peregrine falcons return to the same nesting site each year. Some sites have been used for centuries by multiple generations.