I captured this Prairie Falcon while at a Raptor free flight at the Arizona Desert Museum.
Taken with my Canon EOS Rebel XS D1000
Featured on 1/30/11
MEASUREMENTS: The Prairie Falcon has a body length of 15 – 20 inches, a 3 1/2 foot wingspan, and weighs 1 – 2 pounds.
HABITAT: Prairie Falcons inhabit hills, canyons, and mountains of arid grasslands and shrub-steppes of southwestern Canada, western United States, Baja California, and northern Mexico.
DIET: The primary food of Prairie Falcons is small mammals, especially ground squirrels, but they will also hunt birds, reptiles, and insects. This falcon actively searches for prey during flight. Prairie Falcons catch prey on or close to the ground after a low angled swoop from above.
REPRODUCTION: Typically, Prairie Falcons nest on a cliff face using a ledge, cavity, crevice, or an abandoned nest of eagles, hawks, or ravens. Prairie Falcons lay 3 – 6 eggs with an incubation time of about 34 days. Young falcons leave the nest 5 – 6 weeks after hatching.
NAME DERIVATION: The scientific name comes from the Latin word falco, meaning hook-shaped (falcate) and may refer to the beak and claws, and the Latinized name for Mexico, where the bird was first collected for scientific study. The common name mistakenly refers to the habitat in which this bird may be found. True prairies are mostly outside this bird’s range.
Prairie Falcons are probably just as fast as Peregrine Falcons, but do not typically use the same hunting strategy.
Prairie and Peregrine Falcons are similar in size and can be distinguished from each other by color. The Prairie Falcon is brown and has dark “armpits” or dark patches under the wings, while the Peregrine is blue-gray and has a uniform underwing color pattern.