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Peregrine Falcon

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Peregrine Falcon Feeding

Peregrine Falcon

Gordon Ellmers

Common Name:

Peregrine Falcon, Duck Hawk

Scientific Name:

Falco peregrinus

Appearance:

  • Bill: Thick and hooked, typically yellow or dark with a blue-gray tip
  • Size: 17-20 inches long with 42-inch wingspan, sharply tapered wings
  • Colors: Yellow, brown, gray, black, white, buff, blue-gray
  • Markings: Body is dark overall but may appear more darkly hooded on the head and the nape of the neck. Thick black “sideburn” markings on the cheeks with a sometimes indistinct white posterior patch. Throat and chin are pale, but dark barring or spotting is visible on the abdomen and legs. Dark tail and wingtips. Yellow fleshy eye ring and yellow legs.

Foods:

Small and medium sized birds

Habitat and Migration:

One of the most common birds in the world, peregrine falcons are found on every continent except Antarctica. In North America, the birds are found along the eastern, western and Gulf of Mexico coastlines, and inland throughout the Rocky Mountain region as well as throughout Alaska and Mexico. These birds prefer open habitats near water, and they have also adapted to urban environments, largely through repopulation programs. Northern and southern populations will migrate seasonally, and all peregrine falcons are nomadic in search of food.

Vocalizations:

Peregrine falcons are largely silent but will use a loud, rapid “kack-kack-kack” call as an alarm, usually when they feel their nest is threatened.

Behavior:

These birds of prey are powerful, swift flyers. They will soar in search of food, diving at speeds of 175 miles per hour or faster as they attack. Peregrine falcons have large territories and will return to the same breeding and nesting sites for generations.

Reproduction:

Peregrine falcons are monogamous and build nests on cliffs or tall buildings. Pairs will produce one brood of 2-6 eggs per year, and the female does the majority of the egg incubation for 28-32 days. Nestlings are helpless and will be fed by both parents for the 35-40 days of the fledgling stage before they first leave the nest.

Attracting Peregrine Falcons:

It is difficult to attract any birds of prey to the backyard. In suitable habitat, peregrine falcons may attack backyard birds in open areas, or they may perch on telephone poles, tall buildings or dead trees as they search for prey.

Similar Birds:

  • Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)
  • Merlin (Falco columbarius)
  • Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)
  • Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
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