- Peregrine Falcons are
- They are the fastest
- They were endangered
- They return to
the same nest every year
- They are
related to hawks
- When mom leaves
the nest, dad will sit on the eggs
- They have
pointed wings and curved beaks
- Their eyes are
- They don't have
- They have very
- They hunt for
- They use their
talons to catch food
- They eat meat
- When were falcons discovered
and who discovered them?
- Why are they called raptors?
- Why are they endangered?
- Are they nocturnal?
- Where do they nest?
- How many eggs does a female
- What color are the eggs?
Are they speckled or have any other markings? Are they large
- Does the male leave and find
another mate after the eggs are laid?
- How long does it take for the
eggs to hatch?
- Once the babies are born, does
the mother take care of them?
- How long do the babies stay in
- What are the babies called?
- How high can falcons fly?
- Do the fly/nest in flocks?
- What do they eat in the winter?
- How fast do they go at top
- How long do they live?
- Are they a state bird for any
- Do the eggs
hatch in a certain order ... last one laid / first to hatch?
- Is there a
pattern to the number of eggs a female lays - same number every
- Does the female
sit on the eggs when it is colder and the male when it is warmer
- Do Peregrine
Falcons have a natural predator, other than man?
- Scientific Name comes from the
Latin word, "Falco Peregrinus" which means wandering
falcon, traveler, or foreigner.
- There are 39 species of falcon
- the Peregrine is one of five commonly found in Canada.
- There are 3 subspecies of
Peregrines ~ American, Artic and Peale's.
- 5 types of falcons live in the
U.S. ~ gyrfalcon, peregrine, merlin, American kestrel, and prairie
- Peregrines are the most well
known of the falcons.
- Peregrines adapt to their
environment and live on every continent except Antarctica.
- They can live in the mountains,
deserts, forests, on sea cliffs, in cities and large urban areas.
- They vary in size depending on
where they live ~ the biggest are in Alaska.
- Some like to migrate south to
Latin America in the winter. They can migrate as far as 10,000
miles ~ farther than other birds.
- Peregrines can live up to 17
- They are raptors (Latin meaning
"to seize") - birds of
prey / carnivores - and eat other birds ~ sparrows, starlings,
gulls, ducks, and their favorite, pigeons. In fact, during
WWII they were often shot in England to keep them from eating the
pigeons that were carrying important messages to the forces.
- Falcons are the swiftest birds
of prey and are very muscular. In level flight the travel about 50
kilometers (31 miles) an hour. In a dive, called a
"stoop" they reach speeds over 300 kilometers (186.33
miles) an hour!
- They have a unique way of
hunting for food ~ they dive at their prey so fast that they
overtake it by surprise, catching it in mid-air, and the speed kills
the prey instantly. They are diurnal - they hunt during the
day. The capture takes less than 2 minutes!
- An adult eats about 70 grams (2
1/4 oz.) of food a day ~ that equals about 2 blackbirds.
- In the city it has been
observed that falcons don't like to land on
the ground ~ even if their meal falls to the ground, they won't go
get it. In fact, they don't usually fly lower than the level
of their nest.
- They are
at the top of the food chain, so adult peregrines have no natural predators.
They do however, face many threats from humans ~ use of pesticides,
altering of landscape and habitats, egg collecting, hunting, and
taking of the young for falconry. Baby
falcons (eyases) are a tasty meal for owls, racoons, and mountail
- They have very
good eye sight ~ they can spot a meal up to a mile away.
- Their wings are thin and
pointed, and span about 40
- The female is called a falcon,
the male is called a tiercel.
- Slim birds with a small
head. The male is about 1/3 the size
of the female. Their bodies average 15 - 21 inches long and
weigh about 2 pounds. The female will weigh about 10.6 ounces
more than the male.
- Adult Peregrines have blue-gray
wings, backs, and heads, with white undersides marked with black
bars going across the chest. There faces are white under their
chin. They have large, dark eyes and very sharp beaks and
yellow talons (feet).
- Peregrines make a "kek-kek-kek"
noise, especially when angry or aggressive.
- Use of the pesticide DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Tricholor-Ethane)
the primary cause for the Peregrine population to begin to decline
and be placed on the endangered list in the early 1970s depending on
the state. Peregrines ate birds that had eaten seeds that had
been soaked in the pesticide. This caused the Peregrine to
stop laying eggs, or lay eggs with very this shells. When the
birds tried to incubated the eggs, the shells were so thin they
broke. Pesticide residues become more concentrated as they
work their way up the food chain (called
"bioaccumulation") and can stay in the environment for
- When DDT was banned from use in
the US the Peregrine Falcon's population began to rise again.
The use of pesticides is controlled in Canada and the U.S., but not
in Latin America where some of the birds go for the winter.
- In Canada and the U.S. it is
illegal to kill or disturb Peregrine Falcons in their nests.
- Peregrine Falcons were removed
from the federal endangered species list in August of 1999, however
the falcon population is being closely monitored by state wildlife
departments especially in Ohio and California.
- Several agencies bred
peregrines in captivity and release the young by
"hacking". Birds that are about a month old are
placed in a hack box that has been placed on a cliff or ledge of a
building. Food is fed to them through a tube so they do not
see the human. Once they can fly and hunt on their own
(several weeks later), the box is left open for them to leave.
Nesting / Eggs / Hatching:
- Peregrines are ready to start a
family when they are about 2 years old.
- They mate for life and return
to the same nesting site every year.
- Their range is about 30 miles
with their nest in the center of their range. They do not like
other falcons within 3 miles of their nest site.
- Their favorite spot for a nest
is on the edge of a cliff. They are known to substituted tall
sky scrapers in downtown urban areas for cliffs as well. Their
nesting ledge is called an "aerie".
- They don't use a lot of nesting
material. Peregrines prepare a saucer shaped indentation in
lose soil, sand, or grass called "scrape".
- The tiercel (male) arrives at
the nesting site and begins a lot of fancy aerial displays to
attract his mate in early Spring. Sometimes the male will
select several locations for a nest and the female makes the final
decision. The female is the boss of the house, and the male is
cautious around her.
- 3 to 5 eggs (with an average of
4) are laid at 2-3 day intervals. The group of eggs are called
- Eggs can range in color from a
soft pink to reddish-brown,
sometimes with little speckles, bigger than a chicken and about the
size of a duck egg.
- The male and female share the
responsibility of sitting on (incubating) the eggs. The eggs
need to stay at a constant warm temperature and dry, or the embryo
will not survive. If the air temperature is warm, the parents
will leave the eggs briefly to hunt.
- The eggs also need to be
turned, which we've observed occurs as the birds shift around on the
nest. There are times that it looks like the birds are
actually rolling the eggs with their mouth or feet (see picture
page and observation log).
- Eggs are incubated for 33 days.
- "Pipping" the shell is
when the "eyases" (babies) begin to hatch out. They do
this from the inside with an "egg tooth" (a tiny sharp
point) on the end of their beak. The egg tooth disappears
almost immediately. This process can take up to 2 days!
- Eyases weigh 1 1/2 ounce when first
- Newly hatched, they are wet and
covered with a white fuzz called "down". By 3 - 5 weeks the fuzz has been replaced by brown feathers.
- Males develop faster than
females, females are larger and more powerful when fully grown.
- In 3 weeks they are 10 times
their birth weight; in 6 weeks they are full grown; and at 9-12
weeks they begin to hunt and care for themselves.
- Their first prey is small game
~ dragonflies and butterflies.
- The first few days of learning
to fly is dangerous to the young falcons, especially in urban
areas. Wind changes can slam the birds into the ground and
mirrored or illuminated windows are another hazard. Unfortunately
statistics are not on their side, only one out of two manage to
survive the first year.