Peregrine Falcon

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(New page: '''Common Name:''' Peregrine Falcon<br> '''Scientific Name:''' Falco peregrinus '''Size:''' 14.2-19.3 inches (36-49 cm); '''Wingspan:''' 39.4-43.3 inches (100-110 cm) '''Habitat:''' Wo...)
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'''Common Name:''' Peregrine Falcon<br>
'''Common Name:''' Peregrine Falcon<br>

Revision as of 17:06, 19 October 2014


Common Name: Peregrine Falcon
Scientific Name: Falco peregrinus

Size: 14.2-19.3 inches (36-49 cm); Wingspan: 39.4-43.3 inches (100-110 cm)

Habitat: Worldwide; Peregrines are highly migratory in the temperate and Arctic parts of its range, moving from North America to South America, Europe to Africa, and northern Asia to southern Asia and Indonesia. Those breeding at lower latitudes or in the Southern Hemisphere tend to be resident. Migrating birds leave their breeding sites between August and November, and return between March and May. Migrants readily fly over expanses of sea and ocean. Most birds travel singly or in pairs, even on migration.

It inhabits an extreme variety of habitats, tolerating wet and dry, hot and cool climates, from sea level up to 4,000 m (13,000 ft).

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 1,200,000 individuals. The overall trend is likely to be stable. This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America, in part due to the banning of dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT). Historically, the species was affected by shooting in the U.K., notably during the Second World War. Persecution throughout its range was the major threat in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Snow and Perrins 1998). Severe population declines in the 1960s-1970s were driven by eggshell breakage and mortality of adults and embryos from the hydrocarbon contamination associated with pesticides of that time. The species is used extensively in falconry, although the population-level impacts of this are uncertain. It is highly vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development.

Diet: Mostly birds, of an enormous variety—450 North American species have been documented as prey, and the number worldwide may be as many as 2,000 species. They have been observed killing birds as large as a Sandhill Crane, as small as a hummingbird, and as elusive as a White-throated Swift. Typical prey include shorebirds, ptarmigan, ducks, grebes, gulls, storm-petrels, pigeons, and songbirds including jays, thrushes, longspurs, buntings, larks, waxwings, and starlings. Peregrine Falcons also eat substantial numbers of bats. They occasionally steal prey, including fish and rodents, from other raptors.

The Peregrine Falcon is a very fast flier, averaging 40-55 km/h (25-34 mph) in traveling flight, and reaching speeds up to 112 km/h (69 mph) in direct pursuit of prey. During its spectacular hunting stoop from heights of over 1 km (0.62 mi), the peregrine may reach speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph) as it drops toward its prey.

Nesting: Females are noticeably larger than males. The back and the long pointed wings of the adult are usually bluish black to slate grey with indistinct darker barring depending on subspecies type. The wingtips are black. The white to rusty underparts are barred with thin clean bands of dark brown or black. The tail, colored like the back but with thin clean bars, is long, narrow, and rounded at the end with a black tip and a white band at the very end. The top of the head and a "moustache" along the cheeks are black, contrasting sharply with the pale sides of the neck and white throat. The cere is yellow, as are the feet, and the beak and claws are black. The upper beak is notched near the tip, an adaptation which enables falcons to kill prey by severing the spinal column at the neck. The immature bird is much browner with streaked, rather than barred, underparts, and has a pale bluish cere and orbital ring.

Peregrine Falcons nest on cliffs from about 25–1,300 feet high (and higher, including on the rim of the Grand Canyon). On these cliffs they choose a ledge that is typically around a third of the way down the cliff face. Other sites include electricity transmission towers, quarries, silos, skyscrapers, churches, and bridges. In places without cliffs, Peregrines may use abandoned Common Raven, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, or cormorant nests. In the Pacific Northwest, they may nest among or under Sitka spruce tree roots on steep slopes. Males typically select a few possible nest ledges at the beginning of each season and the female chooses from these. The birds do no nest building beyond a ritualized scraping of the nest ledge to create a depression in the sand, gravel or other substrate of the nest site. Scrapes are about 9 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep.

Cool Facts: The name "peregrine" means wanderer, and the Peregrine Falcon has one of the longest migrations of any North American bird. Tundra-nesting falcons winter in South America, and may move 25,000 km (15,500 mi) in a year. Historically, the Peregrine Falcon was called the “Duck Hawk”.

There are 19 subspecies of Peregrine:

  • F. p. anatum, described by Bonaparte in 1838. This is known as the American peregrine falcon, or "Duck Hawk"; its scientific name means "duck peregrine falcon". At one time, it was partly included in F. p. leucogenys. It is mainly found in the Rocky Mountains today. It was formerly common throughout North America between the tundra and northern Mexico, where current reintroduction efforts seek to restore the population. Most mature F. p. anatum, except those that breed in more northern areas, winter in their breeding range. Most vagrants that reach Western Europe seem to belong to the more northern and strongly migratory F. p. tundrius, only considered distinct since 1968. It is similar to F. p. peregrinus but is slightly smaller; adults are somewhat paler and less patterned below, but juveniles are darker and more patterned below. Males weigh 500 to 700 grams (1.1–1.5 lb), while female weigh 800 to 1,100 grams (1.8–2.4 lb). It has become extinct in eastern North America, and populations there are hybrids as a result of reintroductions of birds from elsewhere.
  • F. p. babylonicus, described by P.L. Sclater in 1861. It is found in eastern Iran along the Hindu Kush and Tian Shan to Mongolian Altai ranges. A few birds winter in northern and northwestern India, mainly in dry semi-desert habitats. It is paler than F. p. pelegrinoides, and somewhat similar to a small, pale lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus). Males weigh 330 to 400 grams (12 to 14 oz), while females weigh 513 to 765 grams (18.1 to 27.0 oz).
  • F. p. brookei, described by Sharpe in 1873. It is also known as the Mediterranean peregrine falcon or the Maltese falcon. It includes caucasicus and most specimens of the proposed race punicus, though others may be pelegrinoides, barbary falcons, or perhaps the rare hybrids between these two which might occur around Algeria. They occur from the Iberian Peninsula around the Mediterranean, except in arid regions, to the Caucasus. They are non-migratory. It is smaller than the nominate subspecies, and the underside usually has rusty hue. Males weigh around 445 grams (0.981 lb), while females weigh up to 920 grams (2.03 lb).
  • F. p. calidus, described by John Latham in 1790. It was formerly called leucogenys and includes caeruleiceps. It breeds in the Arctic tundra of Eurasia, from Murmansk Oblast to roughly Yana and Indigirka Rivers, Siberia. It is completely migratory, and travels south in winter as far as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It is often seen around wetland habitats. It is paler than F. p. peregrinus, especially on the crown. Males weigh 588 to 740 grams (1.296–1.631 lb), while females weigh 925 to 1,333 grams (2.039–2.939 lb).
  • F. p. cassini, described by Sharpe in 1873. It is also known as the Austral peregrine falcon. It includes kreyenborgi, the pallid falcon, a leucistic morph occurring in southernmost South America, which was long believed to be a distinct species. Its range includes South America from Ecuador through Bolivia, northern Argentina, and Chile to Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. It is non-migratory. It is similar to nominate, but slightly smaller with a black ear region. The variation kreyenborgi is medium grey above, has little barring below, and has a head pattern like the saker falcon, but the ear region is white.
  • F. p. ernesti, described by Sharpe in 1894. It is found from Indonesia to Philippines and south to Papua New Guinea and the nearby Bismarck Archipelago. Its geographical separation from nesiotes requires confirmation. It is non-migratory. It differs from the nominate subspecies in the very dark, dense barring on its underside and its black ear coverts.
  • F. p. furuitii, described by Momiyama in 1927. It is found on the Izu and Ogasawara Islands south of Honshū, Japan. It is non-migratory. It is very rare, and may only remain on a single island.It is a dark form, resembling pealei in color, but darker, especially on tail.
  • F. p. japonensis, described by Gmelin in 1788. It includes kleinschmidti, pleskei, and harterti, and seems to refer to intergrades with calidus. It is found from northeast Siberia to Kamchatka (though it is possibly replaced by pealei on the coast there) and Japan. Northern populations are migratory, while those of Japan are resident. It is similar to peregrinus, but the young are even darker than those of anatum.
  • F. p. macropus, described by Swainson in 1837. It is the Australian peregrine falcon. It is found in Australia in all regions except the southwest. It is non-migratory. It is similar to brookei in appearance, but is slightly smaller and the ear region is entirely black. The feet are proportionally large.
  • F. p. madens, described by Ripley and Watson in 1963. It is unusual in having some sexual dichromatism. It is found in the Cape Verde Islands, and is non-migratory. It is endangered with only six to eight pairs surviving. Males have a rufous wash on crown, nape, ears, and back; underside conspicuously washed pinkish-brown. Females are tinged rich brown overall, especially on the crown and nape.
  • F. p. minor, described by Bonaparte in 1850. It was formerly often perconfusus. It is sparsely and patchily distributed throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and widespread in Southern Africa. It apparently reaches north along the Atlantic coast as far as Morocco. It is non-migratory and dark colored. This is the smallest subspecies of peregrine, with smaller males weighing as little as approximately 300 g.
  • F. p. nesiotes, described by Mayr in 1941. It is found in Fiji and probably also Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It is non-migratory.
  • F. p. pealei, described by Ridgway in 1873. It is also known as Peale's falcon, and includes rudolfi. It is 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. It is non-migratory. It is the largest subspecies, and it looks like an oversized and darker tundrius or like a strongly barred and large anatum. The bill is very wide. Juveniles occasionally have pale crowns. Males weigh 700 to 1,000 grams (1.5–2.2 lb), while females weigh 1,000 to 1,500 grams (2.2–3.3 lb).
  • F. p. pelegrinoides, first described by Temminck in 1829. It is found in the Canary Islands through north Africa and the Near East to Mesopotamia. It is most similar to brookei, but is markedly paler above, with a rusty neck, and is a light buff with reduced barring below. It is smaller than the nominate subspecies; females weigh around 610 grams (1.34 lb).
  • F. p. peregrinator, described by Sundevall in 1837. It is known as the Indian peregrine falcon, black shaheen, Indian shaheen or shaheen falcon. It was formerly sometimes known as Falco atriceps or Falco shaheen. Its range includes South Asia from Pakistan across India and Bangladesh to Sri Lanka and Southeastern China. In India, the shaheen is reported from all states except Uttar Pradesh, mainly from rocky and hilly regions. The Shaheen is also reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.It has a clutch size of 3 to 4 eggs, with the chicks fledging time of 48 days with an average nesting success of 1.32 chicks per nest. In India, apart from nesting on cliffs, it has also been recorded as nesting on man-made structures such as buildings and cellphone transmission towers. A population estimate of 40 breeding pairs in Sri Lanka was made in 1996.It is non-migratory, and is small and dark, with rufous under parts. In Sri Lanka this species is found to favor the higher hills while the migrant calidus is more often seen along the coast.
  • F. p. peregrinus, described by Tunstall in 1771. This is the nominate species and breeds over much of temperate Eurasia between the tundra in the north and the Pyrenees, Mediterranean region and Alpide belt in the south. It is mainly non-migratory in Europe, but migratory in Scandinavia and Asia. Males weigh 580 to 750 grams (1.28–1.65 lb), while females weigh 925 to 1,300 grams (2.039–2.866 lb). It includes brevirostris, germanicus, rhenanus, and riphaeus.
  • F. p. radama, described by Hartlaub in 1861. It is found in Madagascar and Comoros. It is non-migratory.
  • F. p. submelanogenys, described by Mathews in 1912. It is the Southwest Australian peregrine falcon. It is found in southwest Australia and is non-migratory.
  • F. p. tundrius, described by C.M. White in 1968. It was at one time included in leucogenys. It is found in the Arctic tundra of North America to Greenland, and migrates to wintering grounds in Central and South America. Most vagrants that reach western Europe belong to this subspecies, which was previously united with anatum. It is the New World equivalent to calidus. It is smaller than anatum and paler; most have a conspicuous white forehead and white in ear region, but the crown and "moustache" are very dark (unlike in calidus). Juveniles are browner, and less grey, than in calidus, and paler, sometimes almost sandy, than in anatum. Males weigh 500 to 700 grams (1.1–1.5 lb), while females weigh 800 to 1,100 grams (1.8–2.4 lb).

This 3D model is found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume I: Kestrels, Hobbys & Falcons

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