Peregrine Falcon (Photo by Kevin Cole/Wikimedia)

Peregrine Falcon

Large and powerful, the peregrine looks like a kestrel on steroids. It flies with smooth but shallow wing strokes, easily generating great speed. Wingspan is 3.5 feet wide (41 inches). When a peregrine flies into sight, waterfowl and shorebirds usually take off in a panic.

This is a good clue to the presence of this powerful hunter, so scan the skies for a peregrine whenever you see fleeing birds. Overall, it appears dark. Young birds are brown, and adults have gray backs and white breasts barred with black. All peregrines have black mustaches, though they can be hard to see on distant birds. They are 17 inches in length.

Listen For

Normally silent but near nest will utter a loud, raspy klee-klee-klee-klee!

Find It

Found worldwide but not common anywhere. Peregrines like to perch up high (on towers, cliffs, buildings, bridges), where they can watch for prey.

Feeding Behavior

The peregrine falcon is amazingly aerodynamic and fast. Predominant food differs depending on their habitat but they will capture prey in the air. This falcon will eat mostly birds but occasionally mammals, amphibians, fish, and insects. Examples of mammals they consume include bats, squirrels, and rats.

Nesting Behavior

The male appears to select the nest site and create the nest. Nest habitat varies widely. Males scrape a bowl into whatever surface they choose like dirt, sand, or gravel and do not line with anything. Females lay 3-4 eggs per brood.

Both sexes incubate the eggs for up to five weeks. After the young fledge, adult peregrine falcons will train their young by dropping dead and live birds in the air for their young to pursue and catch. Young dependency can last anywhere from 5 to 10 weeks.


Peregrine falcons may reach speeds of 200 miles per hour when diving for prey. They use their balled-up talons to knock out their prey and then catch the hapless, falling bird before it hits the ground or water.

3 thoughts on “Peregrine Falcon”

    1. It would be helpful to know where you live, but in our Midwestern experience, a chipmunk is a likely culprit. They might not take down an adult robin, but if it was hit by a car, or stunned in a window strike, a chipmunk would certainly take advantage of the dead or unconscious bird. Dawn Hewitt, Bird Watcher’s Digest

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *