PEREGRINE FALCON

PEREGRINE FALCON(Falco peregrinus)
DESCRIPTION: The Peregrine Falcon (also simply called ‘Peregrine’) is a raptor with dark blue-grey plumage for the top parts. The neck, throat and under parts are creamy with brown bars. The dark eyes are very large relative to the head size, and have a yellow ring. The hooked bill is yellow with a grey tip. The feet are yellow. Sexes are similar in color but the female is larger. Juveniles have streaked under parts and a dark grey bill. There are many subspecies of peregrines. This bird is around 45 cm (18 in.) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Falco-peregrinus
NAME: The name ‘Falcon’ comes from Latin and means ‘sickle’, in reference to the curved shape of the bill and talons. The name ‘Peregrine’ stems from Latin and would mean ‘wandering through fields’.
HABITAT: Open spaces with high points (cliffs, buildings) for nesting.
DIET: The peregrine falcon specializes in catching its prey (almost exclusively birds) in flight. They will also prey on bats. They hunt mainly at dawn and dusk, and at night in cities.
NESTING: This falcon chooses its nest location in a scrape near the edge of a high point. There is no material added. An average of four beige eggs are laid, which are incubated mainly by the female. Both parents feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: Peregrine falcons are found all over the world at some point during their breeding/migration cycles, even in Greenland – but not in Antarctica or New Zealand. They are occasional visitors on Hawaii.
ON PEI: The peregrine falcon does not breed on Prince Edward Island, and its sightings are either rare, uncommon or occasional, depending on the year and the season.
CONSERVATION: During the DDT years, this species was severely impacted but made a surprising recovery thanks to captive breeding efforts. It has been successfully introduced in many cities to take advantage of its taste for pigeons, which are a scourge for buildings and monuments due to their guano.
The peregrine falcon is a favorite of falconers, who have used it for centuries. Incidentally, it is with the help of those skilled trainers that peregrines recovered. In spite of its remarkable recovery, the peregrine falcon is still a species of ‘special concern’. There are conservation programs in various areas. Here’s one in Hamilton with a positive story.
NOTES: Peregrines dive on their prey at speeds up to 320 km/h (200 mph) but only reach their targets around 20% of the time. That speed is the fastest any animal can reach, and the bird’s anatomy is designed to withstand the high pressure caused by that speed on its organs.
Although the peregrine falcon feeds on birds, its impact on any bird species is not significant enough to endanger them.
REFERENCES: http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/peregrine-falcon.html
http://www.arkive.org/peregrine-falcon/falco-peregrinus/
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Peregrine_Falcon/id
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peregrine_falcon
https://www.saultbridge.com/falcam/
https://www.peregrinefund.org/projects/peregrine-falcon
https://hawkwatch.org/learn/factsheets/item/103-peregrine-falcon
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/peregrine-falcon (Missouri Department of Conservation)

Peregrine falcon at nest, Alaska - USFWS
Peregrine falcon at nest, Alaska – USFWS
Closeup of head, Peregrine falcon - photo by Greg Hume
Closeup of head, Peregrine falcon – photo by Greg Hume

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