The peregrine falcon (also known as Falco peregrinus or the duck hawk in North America) is a cosmopolitan raptor in the family Falconidae. Peregrine Falcons are giant falcons with long, pointed wings and long tails. The long primary feathers give them a long-winged shape. As with most birds of prey, male falcons are smaller than females.
Peregrine falcons have unique color patterns; the adults are blue-gray overhead with striped underparts and a dark head with thick sideburns, while juveniles are marked heavily, with vertical streaks instead of horizontal bars on the breast. The overall steely, barred look remains despite considerable age-related and geographic variation.
Moreover, Peregrine Falcons nest on tall cliffs close to large water bodies. Even though most people associate these raptors with rugged wilderness, some birds have adapted well to urban life. City peregrines raise their young ones on ledges of tall buildings. Besides, cities provide peregrines with an excellent year-round supply of pigeons and starlings to feed on.
Cool Facts about the Peregrine Falcon
- They are swift fliers, averaging 40-55 kilometers per hour in traveling flight, and can reach speeds of up to 112 km/h in direct pursuit of prey.
- They are found on almost all continents except Antarctica, New Zealand, and Iceland, thus, making them the most widespread bird in the world.
- In the middle 20th century, peregrine falcons were virtually eradicated from eastern North America by pesticide poisoning.
- They have acute eyesight, which allows them to be very effective hunters around dawn and dusk.
- They rapidly migrate between breeding and wintering areas while flying as far as 500 km per day.