10 Facts About the Peregrine Falcon
1. The Peregrine Falcon got its name from its migrating habits for which it earned the Latin name Falco Peregrinus (wandering falcon) which gave way to its present name.
2. Peregrine Falcons are made up of nearly 20 subspecies which are almost identical and could be found nearly in all parts of the world except in the hottest (deserts) and coldest (arctic) areas around the globe.
3. Male species tend to be lighter than females with average weight of males at 350 to 800 grams compared to females weighing at 500 to 1500 grams. Sizes average at 34 cm to 50 cm long with a wingspan of 80 cm to 120 cm.
4. They are commonly referred to as the fastest bird (and animal) in the planet as backed up by various scientific studies in their habitat while pursuing their prey. They could be normally clocked at 320 km per hour (200 mph) while on a hunting dive to catch their prey with the fastest recorded speed at 389 km per hour (242 mph).
5. Considering the speeds at which these creatures subject themselves as part of their hunting antics you may wonder how they could withstand such speeds with flesh, bones and feathers and their naked eyes locked on their prey. Nature however endowed them with special bones in the nasal cavity to channel the wind and a third eyelid to protect the eyes.
6. Both males and females of the species are characterized by a black head, moustache, white throat and neck markings, dark blue or greyish back, white chest with black markings and a black tail with white spots at the tip. Their feet have yellow color with black razor sharp talons utilized to snatch their prey.
7. They live in high altitudes at the vicinity of cliffs and mountains although some sub species thrive in urban environments at the midst of towns with prevalent high rise structures with exposed framework conducive for nesting like skyscrapers, cathedrals and bridges.
8. Peregrine Falcons were observed to mate for life producing their young once or twice a year. Laying one to five eggs on average, only one to two chicks survive to maturity. The female normally lays the eggs after which the male fertilize it. Peregrine Falcons were among the few animals to show an unusual display of courtship in the wild where females had been observed to fly upside down in the process.
9. They were placed on the endangered list for nearly 30 years owing to the use of DDTs (Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane) a pesticide used to kill insects. DDT however breaks down to DDE (Dichloro Diphenyl Ethylene) which is a toxin that remains in the environment for long and considering its introduction in the food chain finds its way to affect the species (Peregrine Falcons) after they prey on smaller birds which eat those insects. They were only de-listed from the endangered species list in 2009.
10. Among wild animals, they are among the few of the species which could be bred and trained (although costly at present) as a sport called falconry. Falconry could be traced back as early as the third millennium BC.