Birds of Prey

Peregrine Falcon

Latin name: Falco peregrinus
Weight: Male - 1.5 pounds, Female - 2.2 pounds
Wingspan: 43 - 46 inches
Life expectancy: Can reach 17- 20 years

Habitat and Distribution: Peregrine Falcons prefer open country, building nests on high cliffs, ledges, and sometimes sky scrapers. Peregrine falcons are found on every continent except Antarctica. In the U.S. their range has been greatly diminished but they can be found on the east coast from Maine south to Georgia and Alabama as well as along the west coast and scattered throughout the mid-U.S.

Diet: Peregrine Falcons are bird specialists, taking mostly smaller birds such as pigeons, crows, jays, waterfowl, and starlings. They will occasionally take large insects such as dragonflies as well.

Status: Endangered in the state of Connecticut but not listed federally.

Personal Biography: The New Canaan Nature Center's resident Peregrine Falcon came to us from a nature center in Michigan in August of 2005. She has a partial wing amputation and cannot fly well enough to hunt on her own.

Facts: Peregrine Falcons are the fastest animals on earth. They have been clocked at speeds of over 200mph in a dive, or stoop. Peregrines dive to catch their prey, knocking the prey out of the air with their feet.

Peregrine Falcons became nearly extinct in the U.S. by the 1970s due to a pesticide called DDT. The U.S. has since stopped using DDT due to its effects on the Peregrine and other birds of prey such as Osprey and Bald Eagles. Captive breeding and release programs were so successful nationwide that the Peregrine Falcon was taken off of the Federal Endangered Species list in 1999. Peregrine Falcons and other migratory birds continue to suffer effects from DDT used in the tropics where they winter.


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