Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Key facts

Scientific name: Falco peregrinus

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 1,500 pairs

Conservation status: Green

Length: 36 – 50 cm

Wingspan: 86 – 115 cm

Weight: 550 – 1,500 g

Description

 Peregrine falcons have slate-grey upperparts with long tails with grey and white bars. Their underparts are white and their lower breasts and bellies are grey with black barring. Their wings are long and pointed with black and white bars.

Peregrine falcons have black crowns and napes and white cheeks. Their eyes are black with a yellow eye-ring. Their bills are grey with black tips and their legs and feet are yellow.

Adult male and female peregrine falcons look similar, although the female is larger and heavier than the male. Juvenile peregrine falcons are brown with buff underparts streaked with black. Their eye-rings are duller than adults.

Nesting

Peregrine falcons return to the same nesting site year after year. They nest on high cliffs but also in cities and towns on the ledges of tall buildings such as churches and skyscrapers. They line their nests with fine grasses and other vegetation.

Peregrine falcons lay 3-5 creamy-white eggs speckled with rust. The eggs are incubated mainly by the female for 29-32 days. Chicks are born covered with pale cream down and have large feet. They fledge at about 35-45 days but remain with their parents for another few weeks. At six weeks they are fully independent and reach sexual maturity when they are 2 or 3 years old.

Feeding

Peregrine falcons hunt at dawn and dusk. They will hunt on the wing or from a high perch catching other small and medium sized birds in mid-air, plucking the feathers from their prey before eating them.

Peregrine Falcon

Where to see them

Peregrine falcons can be seen all year round around rocky cliffs and upland areas during breeding season.

Listen

John V. Moore/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Peregrine falcons are the fastest flying birds in the world reaching speeds of over 390 km/h in a dive.

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