Peregrine Eating Breakfast

Marvin Collins

Fulton, United States

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Shot early Sunday morning 12-14-08 in Marana AZ under a totally overcast sky.

Powerful and fast-flying, the Peregrine Falcon hunts medium-sized birds, dropping down on them from high above in a spectacular stoop. Virtually exterminated from eastern North America by pesticide poisoning in the middle 20th century, restoration efforts have made it a regular, if still uncommon sight in many large cities.

Large falcon, medium-sized hawk.
Black mustache mark on face.
Long pointed wings.

Size: 36-49 cm (14-19 in)
Wingspan: 100-110 cm (39-43 in)
Weight: 530-1600 g (18.71-56.48 ounces)
Sex Differences
Sexes similar in plumage. Female larger and more heavily marked.

Alarm call a loud series of harsh “kak, kak, kak.”

Conservation Status
Populations crashed in 1950-1970 because of DDT poisoning; eastern population extirpated. It was declared an Endangered Species, and extensive efforts were made to reestablish birds in East, beginning with the work of Tom Cade in 1970 at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which eventually developed into the Peregrine Fund. The species recovered enough to be removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999. You can help scientists learn more about this species by participating in the Celebrate Urban Birds! project.

Other Names
Faucon pèlerin (French)
Halcón peregrino (Spanish)
Duck Hawk (English)

Cool Facts
The name “peregrine” means wanderer, and the Peregrine Falcon has one of the longest migrations of any North American bird. Tundra-nesting falcons winter in South America, and may move 25,000 km (15,500 mi) in a year. Maps of the migration of individual falcons determined by satellite telemetry can be seen at Environment Canada.

People have trained falcons for hunting for over a thousand years, and the Peregrine Falcon was always one of the most prized birds. Efforts to breed the Peregrine in captivity and reestablish populations depleted during the DDT years were greatly assisted by the existence of methods of handling captive falcons developed by falconers.

The Peregrine Falcon is a very fast flier, averaging 40-55 km/h (25-34 mph) in traveling flight, and reaching speeds up to 112 km/h (69 mph) in direct pursuit of prey. During its spectacular hunting stoop from heights of over 1 km (0.62 mi), the peregrine may reach speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph) as it drops toward its prey.
The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most widespread birds in the world. It is found on all continents except Antarctica, and on many oceanic islands.

Artwork Comments

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