The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-grey back, barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache".
Concerns voiced by resource managers caused us to examine the hypothesis that low-altitude jet aircraft overflights affect parental care by peregrine falcons. Specifically, we studied effects on nest attendance, time-activity budgets, and provisioning rates of peregrine falcons (<i>Falco peregrinus</i>) breeding along the Tanana, Alaska in 1995, 1996, and 1997.
Eggshell thickness has been reduced in a variety of predatory birds, a phenomenon shown to be closely correlated to the presence of DDE. Variation in shell thickness relating to embryonic development, the laying of female's age, and production of multiple clutches has somewhat clouded an elucidation of the precise relationships between DDE and eggshell thinning.
Seven new peregrine falcon chicks are living in their parents’ nesting boxes high atop three MTA bridges. The new chicks include four newly hatched peregrines at the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, two at the Throgs Neck Bridge, and one at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
In the Eastern United States peregrine falcon populations declined sharply between the 1940s and 1960s due to the widespread use of the pesticide DDT and several other factors. DDT was most damaging to peregrine reproduction due to egg-shell thinning, egg breakage, and hatching failure. After DDT was banned (1972) and the peregrine was placed on the endangered species list in 1973, Cornell University (later the Peregrine Fund), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and various natural resource agencies began reintroducing peregrine falcons back into their native range.
As a predator at the top of the food chain, peregrine falcons have few enemies besides man. The great horned owl, however, is a regular predator of young peregrines, and predation by owls has prevented the reestablishment of peregrines in many places away from urban areas. Peregrines commonly succumb to collision with vehicles and buildings. Also, pesticides continue to be picked up through their prey, primarily on wintering grounds in the tropics.
Peregrines form long-term pair bonds and are highly protective of their nesting territory, which they use year after year. They produce one clutch per year, but will occasionally re-lay if the nest fails early in the cycle. Three to five reddish blotched cream colored eggs are laid in a scrape or depression on a cliff ledge. Although the female does most of the incubation, both parents take part for an average of 33-35 days.
Peregrine Falcons catch medium-sized birds in the air with swift, spectacular dives, called stoops. In cities they are masterful at catching pigeons. Elsewhere they feed especially on shorebirds and ducks. They often sit on high perches, waiting for the right opportunity to make their aerial assault.
The peregrine falcon inhabits a diverse range of habitats, from cold tundra to hot deserts and tropics, and from oceanic islands, to forests, wetlands, savannah and mountains. It is also increasingly using urban habitats, and is absent only from parts of the Amazon Basin, Sahara Desert, most of the steppes of central and eastern Asia, and Antarctica
A fairly large, stocky falcon, with pointed wings and a relatively short, square tail, the peregrine falcon typically has a bluish-grey crown and upperparts, and whitish, greyish or reddish-brown underparts, with a variable amount of dark spotting and barring. The underwing and tail are also barred, and the pale throat and cheeks contrast with a broad, dark ‘moustache’ stripe. The facial skin and legs of the peregrine falcon are yellow to orange, and the beak is bluish, tinged yellow at the base and black at the tip.
Peregrine Falcons are very strong fliers and often reported to be the fastest bird in the world. Their average cruising flight speed is 24 to 33 mph, increasing to 67 mph when in pursuit of prey. When stooping, or dropping on prey with their wings closed, it's been calculated that Peregrine Falcons can achieve speeds of 238 mph.