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Peregrine Falcon

Meet "Victory" (left) and "Pitt Stop" (right)! Both of these birds are Peregrine Falcons that suffer from wing injuries.

About Peregrine Falcons
(Information taken from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Powerful and fast-flying, the Peregrine Falcon hunts medium-sized birds, dropping down on them from high above in a spectacular stoop. Virtually exterminated from eastern North America by pesticide poisoning in the middle 20th century, restoration efforts have made it a regular, if still uncommon sight in many large cities.

Description

  • Size: 36-49 cm (14-19 in)
  • Wingspan: 100-110 cm (39-43 in)
  • Weight: 530-1600 g (18.71-56.48 ounces)
  • Large falcon, medium-sized hawk.
  • Black mustache mark on face.
  • Long pointed wings.
  • Back and wings bluish gray.
  • Head blackish.
  • Cheek area behind face stripe white.
  • Underparts whitish with variable amount of black spotting and barring.
  • Tail and under wings barred gray and black.
  • Cere yellow.
  • Feet large and yellow.
  • Folded wings just reach tip of tail.

Sex Differences

  • Sexes similar in plumage. Female larger and more heavily marked.

Immature

  • Juvenile similar to adult but back brownish and underparts streaked, not barred.

Food

  • Mostly birds, from songbirds up to small geese. Bats and other small mammals.

Range

Summer Range:

  • Breeds locally from Alaska to Greenland and southward to Mexico, Missouri, and northern Georgia. Also throughout the rest of the world.

Winter Range:

  • Winters from coastal Alaska and southern Canada southward to South America.

Habitat

  • Found in a variety of habitats, most with cliffs for nesting and open areas for foraging. Uses large cities and nests on buildings.

Behavior

Foraging:

  • Searches from perch or while flying. Dives on prey from high above and strikes it with its feet, or pursues it from behind. Kills by biting into neck.

Reproduction

Nest Type:

  • Nest a shallow, unlined scrape. Placed on ledge of cliff or building, or in old raven nest.

Egg Description:

  • Reddish brown with darker brown blotches.

Clutch Size:

  • 2-5 eggs.

Condition at Hatching:

  • Helpless, eyes open, covered with off-white down.

Conservation 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. The species recovered enough to be removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999.

Sound

  • Alarm call a loud series of harsh "kak, kak, kak."

 


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