Urban Wildlife - Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) © Sean Browne

Fascinating Fact about Peregrine Falcon

Blink and you’ll miss them – The peregrine falcon is a master of the air, arguably the fastest animal in the world when it dives to catch birds in flight. It has been prized for hundreds of years for falconry, but has also been greatly persecuted in the wild as well as suffering greatly from certain industrial pesticides.

All about Peregrine Falcon

What to look for

The peregrine is large, very powerful and is probably the fastest animal in the world, which comes into use when chasing prey. The peregrine is a medium-sized bird of prey up to 43cm long and with a wingspan reaching 106cm.  The female is larger than the male. Both sexes have blue-grey upper parts, with dark blue wings and head. The breast is pale and finely spotted and the head has bold moustache-like stripes. The wings are long, with a broad base and pointed tips, dark blue above and pale, with bars below.

When and where to see

In the UK, the peregrine falcon mainly lives in the North and West uplands and rocky coasts, but has recently spread to southern coasts as well. It typically prefers
open country and hunts over agricultural land, marshes and estuaries. However, in recent years peregrines have shown themselves to be very adaptable and now
hunt and breed in a number of towns and cities. They are usually seen flying quickly using fast wing-beats, mixed with long glides, or soaring high in the sky in the
search of prey. Most hunting is done at dawn or dusk. Peregrines living in towns are most easily seen roosting on tall buildings, which closely match their preferred natural nesting sites on crags, cliffs and other steep rock faces.

Did you know?

  • Peregrine falcons have yellow feet with sharp black claws.
  • The fastest recorded speed of the peregrine falcon is over two hundred miles an hour… that’s nearly 3 times as fast as a car on the motorway! To help it cope with the speed, the falcon has special bones in its nose to channel the wind, and a third eyelid protects the eyes.
  • The peregrine falcon eats mostly birds, including feral pigeon, wood pigeon, lapwing, skylark, black-headed gull, blackbird and starling, although rabbits are also occasionally hunted. It catches its prey mainly in the air, either by chasing it and attacking from below or in breathtaking dives from above. These dives can reach up to 200 miles an hour, until it suddenly slows and strikes with its talons from below its prey.
  • The females will hatch 3- 4 eggs in March – April, which hatch after she has incubated them for 33 days. At first the male does all the hunting
  • There are strong laws that now protect the peregrine falcon and its eggs. In the past the bird of prey has suffered declining numbers at the hands of poachers.

 

Links & Downloads

Videos on Peregrine Falcon

The Peregrine

This video is an edited version of a wonderful cine film made by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust member Ralph Paulger in the 1970s. It gives a fascinating insight into the life of the majestic peregrine falcon and provides a fascinating contrast with

Running time 7.47 min

Peregrine cam 2012

Footage taken on Valentine's Day 2012 - the day our Peregrine webcam went live! Footage courtesy of Nottingham Trent University. Watch Peregrine Cam Live NOW (24hrs, between February and June 2012) Visit www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/peregrinecam

Running time 12.33 min

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