The peregrine is a very large compact falcon

The Peregrine is a very large compact falcon.  It can grow to be 14 to 18 inches long.  The upper wings and crown, as well as the side of its head are a blue-gray color.  The chest and the feathers are both white with short black horizontal stripes.  It has a hooked beak and outline around it is dark of a yellowish tint.  Its feet are large with dagger-like black claws.  These birds tend to be darker in the northern regions and lighter in color as you move south.

The female is called the falcon and the male is the tiercel this is due to the fact that the males are much smaller than the female.  There are thirteen subspecies of Peregrine falcon throughout the world.  They occupy all continents with the exception of Antarctica.  They are usually located near the sea or by mountains or cliffs but can be found cruising other areas for prey.  Peregrines from the northern regions can be spotted flying south for the winter months to escape the cold weather.

The peregrine is considered an excellent flyer and a supreme hunter.  Since the ancient times in the Middle East, Peregrine falcons have been highly prized by Arab falconers.  The Peregrine falcon doesn’t just hunt any prey, it hunts other birds ranging in size from the small passerines to birds the size of geese.  A Peregrine’s typical prey includes pigeons, ducks, gulls and herons.  It will also eat small mammals, reptiles and insects.  The Peregrine attacks with its wings almost to its sides and dives down after its prey, at speeds ranging from 65 to 250 mph.  The speed from the strike alone is often enough to kill the prey but if the prey survives this attack the peregrine has nothing to worry about because it just uses its hind claws to rip open its prey’s back or rip its head off and that gets the job done.  If by some chance the prey manages to survive the aerial assault, the impact with the ground is sure despatch it.  When the Peregrine retrieves its food, it will partially pluck its feathers before eating.  A pile of feathers is usually an indication that a peregrine is near by.

The Peregrine’s nesting site is frequently some kind of ledge or hole in a cliff.  Falcons spend very little time on their nest and usually just scrape together some rocks and soil or take over the nest of a raven or crow.  Females will lay 3 to 4 eggs in mid April.  Both the male and female will take turns keeping the eggs warm for about 32 days before hatching, at which time they are taken care of by both mother and father.  These birds will hunt for their young and return with food that is already torn into small shreds.  The baby Peregrines will leave the nest after six weeks but stay with their parents until the fall when they set off on their own.

The Peregrine used to be a very wide spread species prior to WWII but is endangered today.  They are truly remarkable creatures that are slowly becoming scarce.

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