Adult falcons are dark gray to black above, darkest on side of the head. They have gray tips to their wing coverts and a rump pale gray finely barred with black. The nape often has rufous feather tips. Cheeks and underparts are white to pale rufous. The breast has black bars. Flight feathers and tail are slate-gray with narrow white bars below. They have a black bill with a pale gray base, eyes dark brown; cere, eye-ring and bare legs deep yellow.
Sexes are similar in plumage, with the female about 10% larger than the male. Juveniles are sooty-brown above with rufous edges to their feathers. They are white to buff below with narrow pointed streaks. Their cere and eye-ring are blue-gray.
Class: Bird (Aves)
Conservation Education Program AnimalMore Info
Range: Nearly world-wide
Habitat: Seacoasts, mountains, rocky crags, temperate forests
Lifespan: Life-span: 10-12 years (in the wild)
Wild Diet: Small to medium-sized birds, small mammals
Zoo Diet: Mice, chicks
A fast, dashing flier, this falcon travels everywhere at speed in a level, driving flight or in spectacular dives. They perches for long periods on ledges or trees, feeding on small to medium-sized birds, usually taken on the wing, then carried to a perch to be eaten. They often hunt in the early morning and late evening in dim light. They nest on bare ledges and on high cliffs and are often noisy in the nest area with harsh screams of “kak kak kak” and whines of “keer-ik keer-ik."
No nest is made beyond scraping out a shallow cup on the shelf to hold the eggs. Sites are often re-used season after season, and pairs tend to frequent the nesting area for much of the year. They breed in early summer, the female laying her clutch of reddish-brown eggs during August or September. The sexes share the incubation duties, with the female doing the most. The eggs take about 30 days to hatch, and the nestling fledge in 35 to 42 days. At the time of hatching, the chicks are covered in dense white down, but this is soon replaced by the juvenile plumage.
Gestation: Incubation: about 30 days
Litter: Clutch: usually three
- In the late 1950s Peregrine Falcon populations showed a rapid decline across the northern hemisphere. This was found to be due to the use of DDT in agriculture. There is now a steady recovery of populations.
- Peregrine Falcons are now found to be nesting on ledges and windowsills of tall buildings and bridges. This is apparently a new habitat for them.