These birds get their name from the word peregrinus, which is latin for “wander”.1
Peregrine Falcons are one of the largest falcons in North America. They stand between 14 and 19 inches tall, with a wingspan of around 40 to just over 43 inches.2 They can live up to 17 years in the wild. They prefer open spaces and high places. They can be found in tundra to deserts, but particularly love coasts.3 When in cities, they’ll make their nests in skyscrapers.2
What Are Peregrine Falcons Known For?
One of their traits that they’re known for is how they hunt. They tend to go after other birds while they’re in flight.3 They’ll hunt pigeons, ducks, starlings, geese, and songbirds.4 They’ll gain altitude and then drop into a dive known as stooping, where they can gain speed up to 200 miles per hour. They’ll then grab their prey, or if it’s a bigger bird, they’ll knock it out of the air.4
Check out a video of stooping here, from PBS.
Are Peregrine Falcons Threatened By Anything?
Peregrine Falcons are doing well currently. Their numbers are stable or increasing throughout their range.4 In the past, the use of the pesticide DDT and the consequent chemical DDE, which occurs when DDT breaks down, caused reproductive issues. The shells of their laid eggs weren’t strong enough and would break while incubated.1 This caused them to decline drastically to only a few hundred.3
They were listed as Endangered but in 1999 they were taken off the list.1 Due to reduction of DDT and other pesticides, with the help of captive breeding programs, Peregrine Falcons have rebounded to much higher numbers in both the US and Canada.3
Check out another amazing bird of prey, the Red-Tailed Hawk in our blog post here!