Graceful and agile, the peregrine falcon is a bird of prey known for both its swift speed and fierce hunting ability. Considered one of the fastest creatures on earth, the peregrine falcon can achieve speeds up to 200 miles per hour. The falcon’s diet includes waterfowl, pheasants and other small birds.
The peregrine does not build a nest, and instead dwells in hollows and crevices on the faces of cliffs. In urban areas, falcons make their homes on the edges of tall high-rise buildings. City-dwelling peregrines sustain their diet with pigeons and starlings. The peregrine falcon mates for life, and its chicks are born with white fluffy feathers. As the baby chick grows, it sheds the white fluff and pinfeathers sprout, which eventually grow into long beautiful plumage of various colors. The peregrine’s feet have strong talons that it uses to capture its prey in mid-flight while swooping down out of the air. In fact, falcons are such strong hunters that humans have used them as hunting companions for over two thousand years. This sport is known as falconry. (To learn more, click here.)
For many years, the peregrine was listed as endangered, but was removed from the United States’ endangered species list in 1999.
- Ancient Egyptians worshipped the falcon as a sacred animal.
- Though similar in markings, the male peregrine falcon is much smaller than the female.
- Baby chicks are born with a little hook on their beaks, which helps them chip through their tough shell when hatching.
- Humans have done much to protect the peregrine falcon through “captive breeding” programs.