Prairie Falcon

The Prairie Falcon is a larger falcon species with light tan and brown coloration all over. In flight looking from below, dark-brown coloration stretches from the armpit to the wrist. Feathers also appear barred from bellow. The head has a white eyebrow stripe and black moustache stripe.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Falco mexicanus
CLASSIFICATION
Bird
LIFE SPAN
2-5 Years
SIZE
15-19 ” | 0.9-2.4 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Non-Game
GAME TYPE
None
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

The Prairie Falcon’s year-round range covers most of the western United States, extending into the Midwest during the winter, and north into Canada during the breeding season.

  • Cliffs and Canyons
  • Cold desert shrubland and sagebrush
  • Grasslands

Threats

  • Habitat Degradation
  • Habitat Loss
  • Wildfires

Natural History

Prairie Falcons live on a diet of ground squirrels, field mice, and smaller birds such as doves, meadowlarks, and shorebirds. Prairie Falcons hunt by soaring in low and fast, or diving straight down from a perch. They are predated mainly by Great Horned Owls and Golden Eagles, which includes predation of the nest as well. Male and female pairs will spend roughly a month looking for an ideal nesting site, using vocalizations to communicate their preferences. Nests may be placed in rocky crevices or cliff ledges. Sometimes they will use nests that have been abandoned by other birds of similar size. The pair works together to defend the territory from other falcons and predators. However, once the eggs are laid, males will brood elsewhere away from the nest at night.

Fun Facts

Prairie Falcons exhibit behavior that is close to that of playing catch, where they will take dried manure balls and drop them from high up down to the other bird that is playing along. Prairie Falcons bathe mostly using dust baths. Prairie falcons often compete directly with Peregrine Falcons for nest sites.