Peregrine Falcon

Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Genus: Falco
Species: peregrinus

Gr. phalkon  falcon
La. falcula, falcis  small sickle
      (representing their talons)
La. forma  form, shape, kind
La. pereginus foreigner, stranger

Peregrine Falcon, Allan Brooks, Birds of Washington, William Leon Dawson, 1909


The Peregrine Falcon is about 18 inches long.  Dark bluish-gray upperparts, head, and facial markings.  Off white under neck and breast, barred underside, banded wings and tail.  Pointed wings.  Females larger than males.

USGS Peregrine Falcon Map

Except for polar regions, peregrine falcons range worldwide.  North American peregrine falcons range from Greenland south through Canada and Alaska, into the continental United States, through Mexico, and into South America.

Nests on high, inaccessible cliffs.  Some nest on tall buildings in major cities.

Usually lay three to five eggs which hatch after about a month and young fly in about one and one half months.

Feed during daylight hours mostly on birds. Attack prey in the air, sometimes diving over one hundred miles per hour.

Peregrines are popular with falconers as they are considered one of the more managable falcons.

Falconry was a popular sport of nobility more than 2000 years ago in China and for centuries in medieval Europe.   Falcons were a highly valued gift of kings.  Trained peregrines and other falcons hunted and retrieved game birds.  Falconry is still practiced today.  In the U.S., federal and state permits are required.


Dory, chicks and eggs, John Chitty

Peregrine Falcon, eggs and chicks, John Chitty


American peregrine falcons, back from severe decline, were federally listed as endangered on October 13, 1970, and state listed as endangered on June 27, 1971.  

Federally delisted in 1999.  It remains on some state lists.

Peregrines range beyond some of the areas in the above USGS map which is based on population studies spanning several decades of the peregrine's recovery. 

The pictured peregrine boxes were installed by ornithologist Peter Ames, PhD, and Mr. John Chitty on a ledge about 30 stories high in Chicago.

Only professionals should attempt installing boxes as disturbances can cause peregrines to abandon nest sites and may even violate Federal law.

Protection of Migratory and Insectivorous Game Birds


Peregrin Falcon Chicks, John Chitty

Peregrine Falcon Chicks, John Chitty


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