Peregrine falcon: Bird of the Week

The peregrine falcon is one of the fastest birds in the world thanks to its ability to reach speeds of over 100 mph in a dive.

By Kieren Puffett
Published 14 May 2018, 17:44 BST

Peregrines have a muscular and military appearance, which adds to their authority and strength in the sky. They have a menacing black hood and face, slate grey-blue wings and white breasts with black barring. They are well equipped for hunting, with long broad wings, sharp beaks, big eyes and sharp talons.

The best way to tell a male peregrine falcon from a female is their size. Males are on average a third smaller than females.

The peregrine feeds primarily on birds, which it catches in flight. It spots the prey at distance and, once positioned correctly, it stoops at spectacular speeds of over 100 miles per hour. The sheer impact of hitting a pigeon at such speed means they are often killed instantly.

Their incredible speed in a dive ranks peregrines as the fastest birds in the world.

Remarkable Recovery

The peregrine falcon feeds primarily on other birds which it catches in flight often diving down to take them. The sheer speed of impact is often enough to kill the prey instantly.
Photograph by RSPB Images

Thanks to legal protection and campaigns to ban the use of organochlorine pesticides, the peregrine has made a remarkable recovery from an all time low in the 1950s.

Peregrines usually mate for life. They lay their eggs and rear their chicks in what as known as eyries. Until fairly recently, peregrines were regarded as birds of wild crags or lonely sea cliffs. However, the effects of a changing landscape have meant peregrines have adapted to living in some unlikely places. Some have chosen the city life and seem happy to set up eyries on anything from chimneys to cathedrals.

The peregrine falcon can achieve speeds of of over 100mph in a dive, making it one of the fastest birds in the world.
Photograph by RSPB Images
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