• Peregrine Falcon
• Also known as:
- Duck Hawk
• Falco peregrinus
• Means “Falcon Wanderer”
• One of the most common birds in the
world, peregrine falcons are found on every
continent except Antarctica. In North
America, they 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.
• Diet - Peregrine Falcons live mainly off other birds, such as
pigeons, jays, and shorebirds. Rarely, however, they will feed
upon mammals, reptiles, and insects. Prey is typically captured after a
fast pursuit in the air, or a dive bomb.
• Size - The body length of a Peregrine Falcon is 15-20 inches long, a
wingspan of 3.5 feet, and can weigh anywhere between 1 1/4
pounds, to 2 3/4 pounds.
• Housing Requirements - Peregrine falcons always live on a tall
building, cliff, or any other tall structure. They can also live in man-
made nests or boxes.
• Climate Requirements - Peregrine falcons living in very extreme
climates migrate during the winter to a place with a more mild
climate, such as the United States or Canada. Falcons living in the
Midwest often do not migrate, because the winters are not too
extreme, and their food sources remain adequate.
• Relationship with other species - The Peregrine falcon is
almost always the predator, most Peregrines die of natural
causes. However, in remote areas, Great Horned
Owls, Martins, and snakes will feed on the young.
• Age when they reproduce - Peregrine falcons will begin to
reproduce at three years old. How many eggs will it lay? -
The female Peregrine Flacon will generally lay three to five
eggs at one time.
• When is it active? - Peregrine falcons are active during the
daytime, and hunt at dusk and at dawn, when it's prey is
• Living Habits - The Peregrine falcon is a solitary bird, and
does not mate for life.
• Like all falcons they have long tapered wings and a short tail.
These physiological adaptations equate to high speed
maneuverability while in flight.
• Falcons typically hunt small birds and they use their beaks and
claws to swiftly immobilize and kill their prey while in flight.
• These combined traits make the peregrine falcon a very
successful predator. It is the fastest animal in the world;
clocked at over 200 miles per hour during a stoop, or dive
while in pursuit of a prey item. At that speed, any small bird
that the peregrine falcon places in its sights is not getting
• All falcons use their talons to latch onto prey while their sharp
curved beak severs the prey’s spinal column at the base of the
• The speed of a peregrine has been said to
reach 175 miles per hour or more.
Experiments conducted by scientists put the
bird's diving speed at approximately 200 miles
per hour and level flight at approximately 62
miles per hour.
• Peregrines normally grow to 15 inches in
length with a 40-inch wingspan.
Interesting Facts (continued)
• Females are larger and more powerful than
• Prey is caught in flight. Using its great
speed, the falcon delivers a powerful blow to
its prey with a half-closed foot. It retrieves the
dead bird either in mid-air or after it falls to
Endangered Species Status
• Populations crashed in 1950-1970 because of
DDT poisoning; eastern population extirpated. It
was declared an Endangered Species, and
extensive efforts were made to reestablish birds
in East, beginning with the work of Tom Cade in
1970 at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which
eventually developed into the Peregrine Fund.
• There are an estimated 1,650 breeding pairs in
the United States and Canada.