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Peregrine Falcon

Photos © Tony Coomer, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Woodbridge, Virginia

Text by Andrew Boisvert & Kenneth Lindelof

Peregrine Falcon
Falco peregrinus

This is Falco peregrinus, also known as the Peregrine Falcon. These falcons don't normally live in Northern Virginia, they are only seen when migrating. Most Peregrines stop migrating in the cold winters though, and stay as residents until the weather warms up.

Peregrines usually live around 15 years. Feeding Peregrines mainly hunt smaller birds like ducks, pheasants, and pigeons.

If there is a limited supply of other birds, Peregrines will hunt small mammals, small reptiles, and even insects. Peregrines will strike the birds in mid air with their powerful talons and bring them back to their nests.

Many Peregrines try to nest in shallow holes in cliffs, but there are also Peregrines seen to nest in cities. They don't use any materials like other birds do, they just look for overhangs to live under.

Their top known speeds are around 175 miles per hour or higher, but scientific experiments show that they can reach 200 miles per hour when diving out of the air. Baby Peregrines learn to fly in only around 40 days after being hatched.

Back in the late 1960s, Peregrines became endangered because of pesticides near their nests and hunting grounds. The most harmful pesticide to the falcons was DDT, which was banned in 1972. Since the ban, the Peregrine population has risen up out of danger.


Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, Peregrine Falcon
Wikipedia, Peregrine Falcon