Introduction - Peregrine FalconsThe Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal in the world. Also known as the Duck Hawk throughout North America it is one of the most widely found bird species throughout the globe. It can live in habitats ranging from the deciduous forest, to the tundra of the Arctic and even the tropics. The only regions where they do not live are the extreme polar regions. What makes this large bird so interesting is that when doing a maneuver called the swoop, it is able to reach faster speeds than any other animal on earth. The reasons why they are able to do this as well as other interesting facts and information, written for both kids and adults, is listed below.
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Basic Peregrine Falcon Facts
- These large falcons have blue-grey feathers on their long, pointed wings. They have white faces with a black stripe on each side, resembling sideburns or a helmet. They have long tails, powerful talons, and pointed beaks.
- In the wild, the Peregrine Falcon can live up to 15 1/2 years. Loss of life is most significant in the first year with a mortality rate between 59-70%.
- The females are bigger than the males, sometimes by a much as 20%. The females are also more heavily marked than the males.
- In the early part of the century, DDT and other pesticides are to blame for the Peregrine Falcons excessive drop in population. Bans on these pesticides in North America in the 1970s have resulted in a significant comeback for the falcon.
- At 2-3 years of age, the female is ready to mate. The male and the female bird will do acrobatic maneuvers in the sky while the male passes her food to entice her.
- Some Peregrine Falcons migrate and others do not. The falcons in the coldest regions may travel over 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) to migrate to warmer climates.
Peregrine Falcon Nesting Facts
- Peregrine Falcons mate for life and use the same nesting spot year after year.
- Nesting usually takes place in a scrape on the side of a cliff and sometimes even in a water tower or side of a skyscraper. The site is chosen by the female and will usually be within close proximity to a water source.
- They generally lay between 3 and 4 eggs at a time.
- Breeding season occurs from late March and goes until early in May.
- The gestation period is approximately 34 days.
Peregrine Falcon Hunting Facts
- The Peregrine Falcon is a raptor, a bird of prey, which hunts both bats and other birds in mid-air. They begin their aerial assault high in the skies and when prey is sighted they swoop down into a steep dive or stoop.
- During a steep dive the Peregrine Falcon reaches speeds of over 200 mph (322 km/h), making it the fastest animal on the planet.
- During the stoop, specialized nostrils help the bird to divert the strong airflow, keeping the air pressure in the bird's lungs down and avoiding potential lung damage.
- Specialized eyes with a third eyelid help to maintain clear vision during high speeds by producing and spreading tears.