| Similar Birds:
New Zealand Falcon
Photographer: Dennis Jarvis
Peregrine Falcon in Flight
Photographer: Kevin Cole
Peregrine Falcon Range Map (Worldwide, except Antarctica)
Yellow: Breeding summer visitor
Green: Breeding resident
Dk Blue: Winter Visitor
Lgt Blue: Passage Visitor
A Peregrine Falcon Nest
Photographer: George Lignier
Photographer: Greg Hume
| Latin Name
| Conservation Status
||Worldwide (except Antarctica)
||White/Rusty, Grey & Black
||34 - 50 cms (13.5 - 20 inches)
||91 - 112 cms (36 - 44 inches)
||0.55 - 1.5 Kgs (1.25 - 3.25 lbs)
| Life Expectancy
||13 - 20 Yrs (in the Wild)
Up to 25 Yrs (in Captivity)
The Peregrine Falcon is one of the world's fastest birds and they have the widest distribution of any day-flying land bird. They have a body length between 34 and 50 cms (13.5 - 20 inches), a wingspan between 91 and 112 cms (36 - 44 inches) and they weigh between 0.55 and 1.5 kgs (1.25 - 3.25 lbs).
They have pale underbellies with slate or blue-grey upperparts marked with black bars. The top of their head and cheeks are black and they have a white neck and throat. Juveniles are brown with buff edging on contour feathers and vertical stripes on their breast. Females can be up to 30% larger than males.
Peregrine Falcons have sharply pointed wings making them both fast and highly manoeuvrable. When flying they mainly use a flapping motion rather than soaring and when they attack prey they go into a steep, powerful dive or "stoop" during which they may reach speeds of 230 kph (145 mph).
Peregrine falcons can be found worldwide, except Antarctica. They prefer open habitats such as grasslands, meadows and tundra.
Peregrine Falcons feed almost exclusively on birds including doves, pigeons, shorebirds, waterfowl, ptarmigan, grouse and smaller songbirds. They also feed on small reptiles and mammals.
Peregrine Falcons form monogamous pairs that often last for many breeding seasons. They breed once per year between March and May depending on their distribution.
They lay between 2 - 6 eggs and incubation lasts for 33 - 35 days. The youngsters fledge at 35 - 42 days and they are independent at around 6 weeks old. Mortality is high during the first year, with only about 40% of juveniles reaching a year old.
Females reach sexual maturity at 1 - 5 years of age and males at 2 - 8 years of age.
Adult Peregrine Falcons may be preyed upon by other large birds of prey such as golden eagles, gyrfalcons and great horned owls. Nestlings and fledglings may fall prey to cats, bears, wolverines and foxes. Humans also take their eggs to be raised for falconry.
Subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon include:
American Peregrine Falcon
(Falco peregrinus anatum)
They are also known as the Duck Hawk. Today they are mainly found in the Rocky Mountains in North America.
Mediterranean Peregrine Falcon
(Falco peregrinus brookei)
They are also known as the Maltese Falcon. They can be found from the Iberian Peninsula to Mediterranean regions. They are non-migratory.
Falco peregrinus calidus
This subspecies breeds in the arctic tundra of Eurasia. It is migratory and travels south in the winter as far as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Austral Peregrine Falcon
(Falco peregrinus cassini)
They can be found in South America from Ecuador through Bolivia, northern Argentina, and Chile to Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. They are non-migratory.
Falco peregrinus ernesti
They can be found from Indonesia to the Philippines and south to papua New Guinea. They are non-migratory.
Falco peregrinus fruitii
They are found on the Izu and Ogasawara Islands south of Honshu, Japan. They are non-migratory. They are very rare, and may only remain on a single island.
Falco peregrinus japonensis
They are found from northeast Siberia to Kamchatka and Japan. Northern populations are migratory, while those of Japan are resident.
Australian Peregrine Falcon
(Falco peregrinus macropus)
They are found in all regions of Australia, except the south west. They are non-migratory.
Falco peregrinus madens
They are found in the Cape Verde Islands, and are non-migratory. They are endangered with only six to eight pairs surviving.
Falco peregrinus minor
They are sparsely and patchily distributed throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and widespread in Southern Africa. They are non-migratory.
Falco peregrinus nesiotes
They are found in Fiji. They are non-migratory.
(Falco peregrinus pealei)
They are found in the Pacific Northwest of North America, northwards from the Puget Sound along the British Columbia coast (including the Queen Charlotte Islands), along the Gulf of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands to the far eastern Bering Sea coast of Russia, and may also occur on the Kuril Islands and the coasts of Kamchatka. They are non-migratory and they are the largest subspecies.
Indian Peregrine Falcon
(Falco peregrinus peregrinator)
They are also known as the Black Shaheen, Indian Shaheen and the Shaheen Falcon. Their range includes South Asia from Pakistan across India and Bangladesh to Sri Lanka and Southeastern China. They are non-migratory.
Eurasian Peregrine Falcon
(Falco peregrinus peregrinus)
This is the nominate subspecies, and they breed over much of temperate Eurasia between the tundra in the north and the Pyrenees, Mediterranean region and Alpide belt in the south. They are mainly non-migratory in Europe, but migratory in Scandinavia and Asia.
Falco peregrinus radama
They are found in Madagascar and Comoros. They are non-migratory.
Arctic Peregrine Falcon
(Falco peregrinus tundrius)
They are found in the Arctic tundra of North America to Greenland, and they migrate to wintering grounds in Central and South America.
Peregrine Falcons are also known as:
Peregrine Falcons have been used in falconry for centuries.
In the 1950s and 1960s Peregrine Falcons were badly affected by DDT pollution, particularly in Europe and the USA, but they are now making a gradual recovery.
The Peregrine Falcon is the national animal of the United Arab Emirates.
Since 1927 the Peregrine Falcon has been the official mascot of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, USA.
In 2007 the US Idaho state quarter featured a Peregrine Falcon.