Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Scientific Name: Falco Peregrinus
Classification:
Raptor or bird of prey

Size:

The body is 13 inches tall for the male and 19 inches tall for the female. The wingspan is about 40 inches and they weigh approximately one and a half pounds.

 

Description:

Large short-tailed falcon. The male is slate-gray above, black on head like a helmet, whitish neck, buff underneath with lightly barred breast. The female is browner and juveniles have a dark buff with heavy streaking on the breast and belly.

Life Span:

They can live up to 18 to 20 years, though the average life span in the wild is much shorter.


Habitat:

Peregrines live mostly along mountain ranges, river valleys and coastlines.

 

Range:

Historical range is from the arctic tundra through Canada, u.s., Mexico and some birds migrate into south America. It is found on all of the continents of the world except Antarctica.

 

Natural History:

Courtesy of Nova Scotia department of natural resources and mark elderkin

Peregrines are territorial during the breeding season and they mate for life, though they don’t stay together except during nesting season. It is an incredibly fast bird. They acquire their adult plumage in their second year, but reach sexual maturity until the age of three.

 

Food Habits:

Its diet consists primarily of birds, though it may eat insects and small mammals.


Breeding:

Peregrines don’t build nests, but lay two to four reddish dark flecked eggs in a hollow or depression on a cliff. They are incubated for approximately 28 days by both parents and leave the nest after five to six weeks after hatching.

 

Status:

It was listed as endangered in north America, but is now delisted due to reintroduction into many areas. They are protected by the international migratory bird treaty act.

 

Reason for Status:

The use of pesticides, such as ddt, caused bio-contaminated birds to either not lay eggs or produce thin shelled eggs that broke during incubation. In 1972 ddt was banned and re-introduction programs have slowly brought their numbers back.


Management & Conservation:

Between 1988 and 1993, NDOW re-introduced 48 birds into the wild. Currently it is estimated that there may be 20 nesting pairs in Nevada, though due to their solitary nature, they are difficult to account for. In the summer of 2003 a nesting pair was discovered in the white pine range in eastern Nevada, which is the northernmost nesting pair found in over 30 years. NDOW is monitoring existing nesting pairs and is looking for others.


Fun Facts:

The peregrine is the fastest bird documented with level sustained flight of over 60 mph. In a dive to capture its prey, it may reach speeds of almost 200 mph. Peregrines have found new homes in cities, like Las Vegas, with high rise buildings which act like cliffs. They nest on building ledges and with an abundance of pigeons associated with cities, they have plenty of food. In Las Vegas, peregrine falcons have been seen hunting bats around the neon lights. Apparently the bats are hunting insects which are attracted to the lights.