Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus
Peregrine Falcons inhabit a wide range of habitats, including coastal areas, cliffs, mountains, open grasslands, and cities on every continent except Antarctica .They are adaptable birds that can thrive in natural environments and urban areas with tall buildings and suitable prey populations.
Peregrine Falcons have a compact and streamlined body with long, pointed wings and a tapered tail. Their plumage varies, but generally, they have dark gray or bluish-gray upperparts and a lighter underside with fine barring. Adults have a distinctive black hood and mustache-like markings on their face.
Peregrine Falcons are renowned for their high-speed aerial hunting. They are considered the fastest birds in the world, capable of reaching speeds over 240 miles per hour (386 kilometers per hour) diving at flying prey. They have exceptional vision, allowing them to spot prey from great distances. They primarily feed on medium-sized birds, such as pigeons, doves, ducks, and shorebirds. Their hunting involves perching in elevated positions and scanning the surroundings for prey. Once a suitable target is spotted, they initiate a rapid, controlled dive to strike their prey in mid-air.
Peregrine Falcons nest on cliffs, tall buildings, and other high structures. They do not build traditional nests but rather use shallow scrapes or depressions on ledges or platforms. They may line the scrape with small twigs, leaves, or other available materials, but their nest construction is minimal compared to other raptors. They often reuse and refurbish old nests, adding new materials each breeding season. Naturalists often install boxes on high building in cities for peregrines to nest.
Females typically lay 3 to 4 eggs, with each egg laid at intervals of about 2 to 3 days. Incubation lasts around 29 to 32 days and is primarily performed by the female, while the male provides food. After hatching, both parents participate in raising and feeding the young. The chicks are fed a diet of small birds, gradually increasing in size as they grow. The parents tear the prey into small pieces to feed their young until they are able to consume larger prey on their own.
The fledging period for Peregrine Falcons occurs approximately 40 to 45 days after hatching. The young falcons exercise their flight muscles and practice flying around the nest site before attempting their first flights. The parents continue to provide food and guidance during this period.
Peregrine Falcons are highly migratory birds and undertake long-distance migrations. Different populations have distinct migration routes and wintering grounds, with some traveling thousands of miles.