Peregrine Falcon

STATUSLeast Concern

Peregrine Falcon

About: The peregrine falcon is a large, stocky falcon, with a relatively short tail. It has a prominent moustache usually evident in all ages. Plumage color is rather variable, with upper parts in various tones of blue, grey or black; underparts are white to rufous, crossed with variable bars. Legs and feet are bright yellow. The bill is slate-blue and black-tipped.

Peregrine Falcons are found in most major North American cities, skyscrapers make perfect places for nest and with plenty of pigeons to prey on. Peregrine Falcons can identify their prey from up to a mile away.

With long, pointed wings, powerful flight muscles, and rapid wing beats, a peregrine falcon is a swift and agile predator that often captures its prey in mid-air. Feeding primarily on birds, a peregrine flies high above its intended prey, makes a few rapid wing beats to gain momentum, partly folds its wings and dives or “stoops” towards its prey, reaching speeds in excess of 200 mph!

Life Cycle/ Social Structure:

During courtship, males and females will hunt and roost together. They do not build their own nests; instead they look to occupy abandoned nests, tree hollows or shelves on high cliffs. Eggs are laid 2 to 4 at a time, between the months of March and June. The female will care for the fledglings a majority of the time. After the fledglings leave the nest, they continue to receive parental care, as they are taught how to catch their own food. This continues for at least two months, and in migratory populations, sometimes will continue after the family departs southward.

Some peregrines will remain in their nesting territory year-round, although northern populations migrate south. Tundra peregrines may travel from the arctic to South America and back each year.

Conservation: Peregrine falcons made a triumphant recovery from a status of near extinction to a stable population. These falcons, like many birds of prey, were heavily affected by the use of unregulated pesticides in the mid 1900’s. With government protection and a ban on the popular pesticide DDT, these falcons have significantly increased their number over the past 40 year!

How can you help? Always check before using a chemical in your yard or garden. Remember, whatever you put in the soil eventually gets spread into waterways!