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Overview

Brief Summary

Introduction

Worldwide species of falcon whose decline in the 1950's brought to the forefront environmental problems of chemicals such as DDT. The Peregrine population in eastern North America had disappeared and the species was in decline in Europe and Northern Asia. Recovery efforts as well as banning use of organo-chlorines have aided in the comeback of Peregrines.
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With 113 kilometers per hour, the cheetah may be the fastest animal on land but compared to the peregrine, at more than 150 kilometers per hour, it is a turtle. Peregrines hunt at dusk. In the city, they also hunt at night, making use of the street lights. They are true acrobats, particularly during their courtship. They spiral through the air, while throwing food to the female. The pairs mate for life. Their nest is no more than a scraped out hollow in the ground, preferably on rocks or buildings.
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Falco peregrinus

Much larger (15-20 inches) than the Merlin, the Peregrine Falcon is most easily identified by its slate-gray back, brown-barred breast, and thick black “moustache” stripe. Other field marks include yellow eye-rings, a white throat, and yellow legs. Like most species of raptors, females are larger than males. The Peregrine Falcon inhabits every continent except Antarctica, and elsewhere are only absent from the interiors of tropical forests and large deserts. In North America, this species has a patchy breeding distribution from arctic Canada and Greenland south to central Mexico. In winter, this species is found along the Pacific coast of Alaska and Canada, extreme southeastern Canada, and south through much of the U.S., Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and South America. In the Old World, this species is absent only from extremely dry, cold, and remote areas such as the Sahara desert, Central Asia, Iceland, and New Zealand. Peregrine Falcons breed in a number of habitats across North America. These habitats have in common prominent cliffs or ledges for nesting as well as open areas for hunting. Peregrine Falcons are known to breed on tundra, coast, and mountains, and have recently begun nesting on ledges of tall buildings in urban areas. Outside of the breeding season, this species also prefers open areas with prominent perches to aid in hunting. Peregrine Falcons primarily eat small to medium-sized birds, and will also hunt small mammals, including bats. Due to this species’ preference for open habitat, Peregrine Falcons may be most easily seen perched prominently, perhaps in a tall tree or on a cliff face, while watching for prey. This species may also be observed hunting, when it may be seen pursuing and capturing prey with its talons. This species is primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least concern

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Interesting Facts

  • Fastest animal recorded at speeds in excess of 200m.p.h. (more information)
  • WWII japanese airplane Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (Japanese for Peregrine Falcon) code name Oscar by Allies (more information)
  • Names: also known as the "Duck Hawk". A male Peregrine is called a "tiercel" and the female is "falcon". The name "Peregrine" means wanderer.
  • Falconry: Falconry (the art of hunting with a raptor) is known back to the time of the Egyptions. In the Middle Ages it was known as the "Sport of Kings." Social rank dictated which species an individual was allowed to hunt with. A baron or duke could use a male Peregrine while you had to be a prince to have a female Peregrine. (more information)
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Succinct

Peregrine Falcons are widely distributed. An aerial hunter, the Peregrine feeds predominantly on avian species and is well known for its tremendous speed when stooping on prey. The population decline of Peregrines in the 1960's caused an environmental awakening with both public and scientific audiences.


Reference

  • White, Clayton M., Nancy J. Clum, Tom J. Cade, and W. Grainger Hunt. 2002. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online.
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Comprehensive Description

Research Data

Peregrines are one of the most widely studied birds. The highlight of that focus occurred during the period of its decline though the species is still researched to date. Reintroduced populations have been banded allowing for examination of dispersal and longevity. Satellite tracking has been done to look at migration. Currently the focus has turned toward genetics.


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Specimen Information

Museums and universities throughout the world maintain ornithological and oological research collections. Specimen information is available either via online databases or by direct contact with the institution. Oological collections were used to document pre-DDT era egg shell thickness.


References

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Distribution

Geographic Range

Peregrine falcons are found worldwide, except for rainforests and cold, dry Arctic regions. They are one of the most widespread terrestrial vertebrate species in the world. Most southern Palearctic and island populations of peregrine falcon are resident, and do not migrate.

Peregrine falcons migrate long distances between breeding and winter ranges. Northernmost populations breed in the tundra of Alaska and Canada, and migrate to central Argentina and Chile. They typically migrate along sea coasts, long lake shores, barrier islands, mountain ranges, or at sea.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: cosmopolitan

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More info for the terms: density, tundra

The peregrine falcon is global in distribution [6,27]. General ecosystem types in which peregrine falcon occurs include arctic tundra, tropical ecosystems, deserts, wetlands, grasslands, mountainous regions, continental forests, maritime islands, and urban areas (review by [190]). In North America, the peregrine falcon's range extends from western Alaska to southern Greenland and south into Mexico ([6], review by [190]). Globally, peregrine falcons breed up to 75 ºN latitude [27]. Peregrine falcons were reintroduced in many urban areas during recovery efforts by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations. NatureServe provides a distributional map of the peregrine falcon in North and South America.

All 3 North American subspecies occur in Alaska. Arctic peregrine falcons are found in the northern tundra, American peregrine falcons occur in the interior boreal forests, and Peale's peregrine falcons occur along southern coastal Alaska and the Aleutian Islands [5]. The 3 centers of highest breeding density in Alaska occur in the inland foothill tundra of the arctic slopes, the interior Yukon River system including delta regions and high mountain drainages, and the Alaska peninsula-Aleutian Islands region [27].

  • 5. Ambrose, Skip; Ulvi, Steve. 1990. Peregrine falcon research in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska. Park Science. 10(4): 18-20. [14464]
  • 6. American Ornithologists' Union. 1957. Checklist of North American birds. 5th ed. Baltimore, MD: The Lord Baltimore Press, Inc. 691 p. [21235]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Geographic Range

Peregrine falcons are found worldwide, except for rainforests and cold, dry Arctic regions. They are one of the most widespread terrestrial vertebrate species in the world. Most southern Palearctic and island populations of peregrine falcon are resident, and do not migrate.

Peregrine falcons migrate long distances between breeding and winter ranges. Northernmost populations breed in the tundra of Alaska and Canada, and migrate to central Argentina and Chile. They typically migrate along sea coasts, long lake shores, barrier islands, mountain ranges, or at sea.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: cosmopolitan

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Nearly cosmopolitan; breeds on every continent except Antarctica; absent from high mountains, desert regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia, and from most tropical forests; occasionally reaches Hawaii. In North America, much recovery of populations has occurred, but the large area extending from the western Cascades of Oregon and Washington to the eastern slope of the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming and Montana and north into the southern provinces of Canada still was largely unoccupied in the early 1990s (The Peregrine Fund 1992).

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North America Range Map

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Breeding ranges of the subspecies


Source: self-made; compiled from textual range descriptions in Handbook of the Birds of the World

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Range Map


Range map for Falco peregrinus (including F. (p.) pelegrinoides)

  • Yellow: Breeding summer visitor
  • Green: Breeding resident
  • Blue: Winter visitor
  • Light blue: Passage visitor

Source: Self-made; compiled from Handbook of the Birds of the World, Birds of the Western Palearctic, Birds of the Western Palearctic Concise Edition, Atlas of European Breeding Birds, Birds of North America, Birds of China, Birds of Japan, BirdLife International Datasheet.

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Peregrines are found worldwide, breeding on every continent except Antartica. The Global Raptor Information Network of the Peregrine Funds lists 232 countries with its appropriate resident, migrant, vagrant etc. status. 19 subspecies of the Peregrine are currently recognized. The largest and most heavily patterned birds come from islands in the Bering Sea (F. p. pealei), while one of the smallest forms occurs in India (F. p. peregrinator.)


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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Like all falcons, peregrine falcons have long, tapered wings and a slim, short tail. In North America, peregrines are roughly the same size as crows. They weigh nearly 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) on average. Like most birds of prey, female peregrine falcons are slightly larger than males.

There are 19 regional variants (subspecies) of peregrine falcon worldwide. These subspecies can be very different in size and color. Peregrine falcons have slate and blue-gray wings. They have black bars on their backs and pale underbellies. They have white faces with a black stripe on each cheek and large, dark eyes. Feather color doesn't change seasonally. Young birds tend to be darker and browner than the adults. Their underparts are streaked, rather than barred like adults.

Average mass: 907 g.

Range length: 36 to 58 cm.

Range wingspan: 91 to 112 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

Average mass: 840 g.

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Distinguishing characteristics

Peregrine falcons are medium-sized diurnal raptors ([82], review by [190]). Of the North American falcons, they are 2nd in size only to gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus) [27,54]. Peregrine falcons are sexually dimorphic (reviews by [162,190]). Females are generally 15% to 20% larger and 40% to 50% heavier than males (review by [190]). Typically, females average 26 to 49 ounces (750-1,398 g), while males average 18 to 35 ounces (500-994 g) [11,27,144,186]. Total length of females and males is 18 to 23 inches (45-58 cm) and 14 to 19 inches (36-49 cm), respectively. In the wild and in captivity, peregrine falcons may hybridize with prairie falcons (F. mexicanus) or gyrfalcons (review by [190]).
  • 11. Beebe, Frank L. 1960. The marine peregrines of the northwest Pacific coast. The Condor. 62(3): 145-189. [76976]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 54. Dunn, Jon L.; Alderfer, Jonathan, eds. 2006. Field guide to the birds of North America. 5th ed. Washington, DC: The National Geographic Society. 503 p. [68123]
  • 82. Harris, James T.; Clement, David M. 1975. Greenland peregrines at their eyries: A behavioral study of the peregrine falcon. Meddelelser om Gronland. 205(3). Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel. 28 p. [79571]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 162. Snyder, Noel F. R.; Wiley, James W. 1976. Sexual size dimorphism in hawks and owls of North America. Ornithological Monographs. No. 20. Gainesville, FL: American Ornithologists' Union. 96 p. [24770]
  • 186. White, Clayton M. 1968. Diagnosis and relationships of the North American tundra-inhabiting peregrine falcons. The Auk. 85(2): 179–191. [70869]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Physical Description

There are 19 regional variants (subspecies) of peregrine falcon worldwide. They vary considerably in size and color. Like all falcons, peregrine falcons have long, tapered wings and a slim, short tail. In North America they are roughly crow sized, ranging in length from between 36 and 49 cm in males and 45 to 58 cm in females. Wingspan varies from 91 to 112 cm. They weigh an average of 907 g. Like most birds of prey, female peregrine falcons are slightly larger than males. They are typically 15-20% larger and 40-50% heavier than males. Peregrine falcons have slate and blue-gray wings, black bars on their backs and pale underbellies. They have white faces with a black stripe on each cheek and large, dark eyes. Young birds tend to be darker and browner, with streaked, rather than barred, underparts. Plumage doesn't vary seasonally.

Average mass: 907 g.

Range length: 36 to 58 cm.

Range wingspan: 91 to 112 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

Average mass: 840 g.

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Size

Length: 51 cm

Weight: 1500 grams

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Physical Description

Medium sized falcon. Length is 16-20" (from the head to the tip of the tail) with a wingspan of 37 to 43 inches (tip to tip.) Females average 15-20% larger than males. Individual weight can range from 16 ounces (small male) to 53 ounces (large female.) All birds have a distinctive malar stripe and uniformly patterned underwings. Immature birds are brown with heavy vertical streaking on breast/abdomen. Adults are a bluish/black with light barring on belly.
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Diagnostic Description

Differs from merlin (Falco columbarius), prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus), and gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) in having a broad dark wedge extending down the side of the head; lacks the reddish back of the American kestrel (Falco sparverius); lacks the contrasting dark axillaries and underwing coverts of the prairie falcon.

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Ecology

Habitat

Baja California Desert Habitat

This taxon is found in the Baja California Desert ecoregion, located on most of the western side of the Baja Peninsula, containing varied habitats such as mountains, plains and coastal dunes. This desert is one of the largest and best preserved in Mexico, and due to its isolation, contains a high level of species richness and endemism. A series of ophiolytes  (formations of gabrum, ultramafic rocks, and volcanic lava) surround the most prominent orographic feature: The San Andres mountain range. Overall, the climate is arid with variable temperature. The isolated nature of the peninsula, and its proximity to the sea, maintains a measure of humidity, and creates a stable diurnal temperature.

The predominant vegetation associations are composed of xeric scrub, which have been subdivided in diverse categories according to dominant species and the ecological conditions in which they occur. Thick-stemmed trees and shrubs, growing on rocky volcanic soils, cover the highest parts of the mountain ranges. Dominant plant species are Ambrosia camphorata, Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), and Astragalus prorifer.  The Boojumtree (Fouquieria columnaris) can be also found at elevations up to 1200m. Many species of cacti are present. Dominant species within the Baja California Desert vary with elevation. Epiphytes such as Small Ballmoss (Tillandsia recurvata) and Cudbear (Rocella tinctoria) grow in low elevation, humid areas, and account for a majority of the perennial vegetation. Areas previously submerged under the sea (in the Miocene era) are now covered by highly saline and alkaline-tolerant species, such as Ambrosia magdalenae, El Vizcaino Agave (Agave vizcainoensis), Datilillo (Yucca valida), Pitaya Agria (Stenocereus gummosus), and Porter's Muhly (Muhlenbergia porteri). Dune vegetation includes Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata), Barclay's Saltbush (Atriplex barclayana), Rush Milkweed (Asclepias subulata) and Nicolletia trifida.

There are a number of reptilian taxa found in the Baja California Desert including the endemic Baja California Brush Lizard (Urosaurus lahtelai). The Baja California Legless Lizard (Anniella geronimensis EN) is also endemic to the ecoregion, and is restricted to a narrow strip around 87 kilometres (km) long, ranging from about six km north of Colonia Guerrero, southerly to a point south of Punta Baja at the northern edge of Bahia El Rosario. This legless lizard extends to at most four km inland in the Arroyo Socorro, but otherwise found only in the coastal zone; A. geronimensis also occurs on Isla San Gerónimo. Also found here is the San Lucan Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus unctus NT), a species not endemic to the ecoregion, but restricted to the southern Baja Peninsula and the Gulf of California islands of Partida Sur, Gallo, Espiritu Santo, Ballena, Gallina and Cerralvo.

There are only a few amphibians found in the ecoregion. Anuran taxa occurring here include: California Chorus Frog (Pseudacris cadaverina); Pacific Chorus Frog (Pseudacris regilla); and Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor). Also found here is the Plateau Toad (Anaxyrus compactilis), an endemic to the lower central Mexican Plateau and Baja California Desert; another toad occurring in the ecoregion is the Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas NT). The Channel Islands Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps pacificus) was earlier thought to occur in this ecoregion, but genetic data shows that this taxon is strictly endemic to the Channel Islands of California.

Endemic mammals include San Quintín Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys gravipes CR), and Baja California Rock Squirrel (Spermophilus atricapillus EN). Other mammals that are classified as special status are the Lesser Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae VU). Some shallow coastal saltwater lagoons protruding into the Baja California Desert along the Pacific Ocean provide key breeding habitat for the Grey Whale (Eschrichtius robustus CR). One of the largest such breeding waters is the remote San Ignacio Lagoon, extending many kilometres inland and rarely exceeding fifteen metres in depth.

Important sites for avian conservation include the Ojo de Liebre lagoon, along the Pacific coast, which is home to millions of overwintering ducks and geese. Bird species in the Baja California Desert include such notable raptor taxa as Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Southern Crested Caracara (Caracara plancus), Osprey (Pandion haliaeutus), and Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia).

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Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Peregrine falcons prefer open habitats, such as grasslands, tundra, and meadows. They are most common in tundra and coastal areas and rare in sub-tropical and tropical habitats. They nest on cliff faces and crevices. They have recently begun to colonize urban areas because tall buildings are suitable for nesting in this species, and because of the abundance of pigeons as prey items. They have been observed breeding as high as 3600 meters elevation in the Rocky Mountains of North America.

Range elevation: 3600 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra ; taiga ; desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Other Habitat Features: urban

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Cover Requirements

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More info for the terms: competition, cover, density, fire exclusion, fire management, fire-return interval, mesic, prescribed fire, selection, series, taiga, tree, tundra, wildfire

Peregrine falcons show little preference for specific ecological communities [27]. Because of their hunting behavior, peregrine falcons are most adapted to open or partially wooded habitats [142]. Associated habitats from sea level to 13,000 feet (4,000 m) include coastal areas, plains, grasslands, shrublands, heaths, steppes, forests, and deserts [28,36,57,59,140,144,155]. Peregrine falcons rarely occur in alpine habitats [28] or dense, closed forests [142,144]. No preference was shown between tundra, taiga, maritime, and interior regions in Alaska [27]. According to a review, primary peregrine falcon habitat in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia includes nesting cliffs along or near the coast and foraging areas that include tidal flats, beaches, interior marshes, prairies, or other open areas [106]. Cliffs in California are surrounded by patches of coniferous forest, sagebrush scrub, oak woodland, grassland, chaparral, or marshes [36]. Peregrine falcons in southern and central California are most common in areas relatively close to coastal wetlands including the northern and southern Santa Lucia Ranges and the Santa Ynez Mountains [165]. Additionally, habitat in central California includes sloughs, creeks, other riparian habitats, oak woodlands, uplands, valley grasslands, and "historic" interior wetlands [177]. During migration, peregrine falcons stop over on South Padre Island, Texas, primarily occupying wind-tidal flats and dunes on the island and fields, lakes, and dunes on the adjacent mainland [96]. At the end of each day, an immature male migrating from Wisconsin to Mexico primarily occupied wooded areas near bottomlands and rivers [40].

According to Smith and others [160], peregrine falcons inhabit successional forests. Peregrine falcons in the Pacific Northwest breed and hunt in grass-forb, shrub-seedling, pole-sapling, young, mature, and old-growth coniferous forest [155]. They do not hunt within dense forest canopies, but they do hunt above forest canopies and expanses between stands [173]. Wellersdick and Zalunardo [182] asserted that peregrine falcons were heavily dependent on snags in the Cascade Range, but they did not discuss any observations from which to base that conclusion. Six tree eyries in dense Sitka spruce forests on offshore islands along the northern coast of British Columbia were described by Campbell and others [38]. In Kentucky, hacked peregrine falcons perched in decaying pine trees that had large DBH and were surrounded by few deciduous trees. On average, perch trees in Kentucky had greater DBH, a more advanced stage of decay, and a greater field of view than nearest-neighbor trees that were not used for perching. In 2 models, perch use in Kentucky was positively associated with DBH and advanced stages of decay (P<0.001), while negatively associated with tree height and deciduous tree density (P<0.001) [39].

While peregrine falcons utilize riparian areas within desert habitats, they do not solely rely on them. Many desert fauna travel through or seek refuge in desert riparian habitats [135]. This potential prey may attract peregrine falcons. Peregrine falcons breed in the Great Basin, Chihuahuan, and Sonoran deserts [135]. Peregrine falcons in the desert Southwest typically do not nest in areas receiving 30 inches (150-760 mm) [57]. Riparian habitats in the Mojave Desert are sparsely vegetated due to low annual rainfall [135]. Plant community composition and structural complexity in the Mojave Desert are limited by soil moisture availability and occasionally, extreme winter temperatures (Brown 1982 personal communication cited in [135]). These factors may inhibit peregrine falcons from breeding in the Mojave Desert. Peregrine falcons have been observed foraging in canyons in central New Mexico. However, breeding has not been observed in the area [117].

Winter range may include urban areas [1], coastal marshes [63], mangrove forests, river valleys, lakeshores ([16] cited in a review by [190]), other wetland areas [140], pastures, and open areas with little dissected topography, cover, or cliffs ([16] cited in a review by [190]) where avian prey is abundant. Winter habitat on the coast of British Columbia includes dense shoreline forests and wooded islands [11]. In Utah, postbreeding adults and immatures, either resident or migrant, winter near marshes where avian prey congregate [140]. Peregrine falcons overwinter around the Colorado River Delta at the western edge of the Sonoran Desert [90].

Limiting habitat features: Factors that limit habitat suitability for peregrine falcons vary between locations. Primary factors may include limited access to prey, such as shorebirds and passerines (Passeriformes), and limited nest site availability [87,140,173]. Diverse communities of avian prey are attracted by large water sources [140,170]. Thus, peregrine falcons tend to inhabit areas near large bodies of water including wetlands, lakes, streams, and marine environments [140]. Coastal areas and islands where high winds, heavy fog, and low ambient temperatures are typical in summer may limit peregrine falcon populations in the Arctic [27]. In the desert Southwest, key habitat features include areas of high topographic relief and tall, expansive cliffs within 3 miles (5 km) of permanent or near-permanent surface water. Vegetation, precipitation, and availability of surface water appear to influence nest site suitability for peregrine falcons in Arizona [57]. Presumably, proximity to water in desert habitats promotes peregrine falcon hunting success. ([20,79], (Walk and Schmitt 1977 personal communication cited in [170])

Elevation: The elevations of peregrine falcon eyries are largely based on local availability. Peregrine falcons nest from sea level in coastal areas to high mountain cliffs [59,130,170,173]. Peregrine falcons in northern Alaska do not appear to nest above 2,200 feet (670 m). Peregrine falcons may reach their altitudinal limit at 2,500 to 3,000 feet (800-900 m) in the Arctic [189]. Elevations of suitable habitat of a reintroduced population in Kentucky range 660 to 1,300 feet (200-400 m) [55]. In Arizona, nesting peregrine falcons occupy territories at elevations up to 9,000 feet (2,700 m) [57]. Mean elevation of eyries in Utah was 4,701 feet (1,433 m). Mean elevation of nesting cliffs in Utah was 4,813 feet (1,467 m) [77]. Nesting sites in Colorado have been recorded at 10,500 feet (3,200 m) [173]. However, most nesting cliffs in Colorado are located below 9,000 feet (2,700 m) ([59,173], Welch 2008 personal communication [181]). Eyrie elevations throughout California typically range from sea level to 9,000 feet (2,700 m) [170]. In Greenland, the mountainous regions range up to 3,300 feet (1,000 m) above sea level [26,67]. Peregrine falcons overwintering in Veracruz, Mexico, are found at elevations of 0 to >5,000 feet (1,500 m) [153]. The maximum recorded elevation of a peregrine falcon eyrie is an unconfirmed report of a nest at 13,000 feet (4,000 m) in California [170].

Territoriality: Territories appear to have 2 defended components. Peregrine falcons aggressively defend a 0.05- to 1-mile (0.09-1.6 km) radius around the nest from other large or predatory birds [27,129,130,170]. Peregrine falcons attack any large bird that ventures too close to the nest, including great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), barn owls (Tyto alba), bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis), Cooper's hawks (Accipiter cooperii) ([20,79], (Walk and Schmitt 1977 personal communication cited in [170]), ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), great blue herons (Ardea herodias), cormorants (Phalacrocorax spp.), gulls (Larus spp.), [170], common ravens (Corvus corax), and turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) ([20,79], (Walk and Schmitt 1977 personal communication cited in [170]). Territorial defense often includes stooping (diving) at potential predators [27,79]. Favorite hunting stations, typically a high perch with sweeping views, and plucking stations, where captured prey is plucked or consumed, are defended as well [27]. An exception to this behavior was observed in arctic Alaska, where territories were established for nest defense but not for foraging [189]. In winter, peregrine falcons defend ledges that were used as prey observation points and plucking perches [1]. Territorial behavior is also displayed around favored hunting ranges and plucking sites in winter [1,190]. Winter defense is most aggressive within 1,000 feet (300 m) of the plucking perch [1].

In Alaska, an average of 3.4 to 3.5 miles (5.4-5.6 km) separated nesting pairs, with the closest pairs being 0.2 to 0.6 mile (0.3-1.0 km) apart (Swem and Ambrose 2002 personal communications cited in a review by [190]). The mean distance between peregrine falcon nests in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, was 2.1 miles (3.3 km), with a range of 0.4 to 6.1 miles (0.7 to 9.8 km) [42,43]. Territory size may be influenced by prey abundance [130]. Some breeding pairs on Langara Island, British Columbia, nested less than 0.25 mile (0.4 km) apart. Generally, there were no signs of aggression between breeding pairs on Langara Island, British Columbia, despite the close proximity of nests [11]. Distance between pairs in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, was 0.7 mile (1.1 km) or greater [188]. Since population density in a given area changes over time [21,42,44,45,116,130], territory size and distance between nesting pairs will likely fluctuate as well.

Conflicts between nesting peregrine falcons and other species nesting nearby are common [15,27]. However, tolerance of other species near the nesting territory varies widely. In Alaska, golden eagles are attacked more aggressively than other predatory birds, including hawks and other eagles (Accipitridae), owls (Tytonidae and Strigidae), gulls (Laridae), jaegers (Stercorarius spp.), and common ravens [27]. Peregrine falcons rarely nest in close proximity to golden eagles or gyrfalcons [27,190]. Peregrine falcons have a tumultuous relationship with great horned owls as well. The 2 species may nest close together with little conflict. At other times, conflicts between peregrine falcons and great horned owls may result in death of adults or young of either species (review by [190]). On the Los Padres National Forest, California, a peregrine falcon eyrie, red-tailed hawk nest, and great horned owl nest were in very close proximity. Skirmishes between the 3 species were frequent due to the closeness of the nests [79]. Peregrine falcons occasionally nest within 300 feet (90 m) of common ravens and hawks [27]. However, conflict between peregrine falcons and common ravens may decrease breeding success (review by [190]).

Peregrine falcons compete for nest sites with other raptors (review by [190]). For example, gyrfalcons may prevent peregrine falcons from using optimum nesting sites. In western Greenland, peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons occupied the same nesting sites during different years [26], so competition for nesting sites may exist between the 2 species where populations overlap. Prairie falcons may nest within close proximity to peregrine falcons [170], and nest competition between these species also occurs. Peregrine falcons may usurp prairie falcons from a desirable territory (review by [190]).

Both individuals of a breeding pair may remain near the nesting site in winter, but the birds tend to be solitary, occupying individual territories or feeding areas [144,189]. In nonmigratory populations, peregrine falcons may continue to inhabit the same general territory or occupy an area near the breeding territory during winter, but such behavior is highly variable. Maintenance of sedentary pair bonds in winter may be partially influenced by having sufficient prey available to feed both peregrine falcons [144].

Home range and density: The size of peregrine falcon home ranges, including hunting ranges beyond the actively defended area near the eyrie, is influenced by prey and nest site availability [140,144]. Peregrine falcon density can be high when avian prey is abundant [144]. Along coastal British Columbia, peregrine falcons concentrate in areas with abundant potential prey, which may be a more important feature of their habitat in that area than cliffs or any other landscape feature [12]. Population size of raptors is often limited by availability of suitable nesting sites [92,93].

Historically, the highest peregrine falcon population densities in North America were observed in the subarctic (50-60 ºN) and low Arctic (60-70 ºN) [27]. High population densities for Peale's peregrine falcons on Langara Island, British Columbia, were recorded before the global decline in peregrine falcon populations was evident. Numerous cliffs and abundant seabirds minimized competition. Density for the entire 25-mile (40 km) perimeter of Langara Island was 16 to 20 breeding pairs from 1952 to 1958. The highest concentration of nesting peregrine falcons included 5 to 8 nesting pairs within a linear distance of approximately 1.75 miles (2.8 km) [11]. In Utah, the historical average distance between eyries was 130 miles (209 km). Some eyries in Utah were as close as 2 miles (3.2 km) apart [140].

In Colorado, estimated mean home range during nesting was 138 to 582 mi² (358-1,508 km²) for 2 adult males and 3 adult females [61]. An adult male in Alaska had a hunting range of 123.5 mi² (319.8 km²) [191]. Hunting range estimates by Mearns [120] in Scotland were 3.5 to 8.5 mi² (9-22 km²) for 2 females when nestlings were present and 9 to 45 mi² (23-117 km²) after young fledged. First-year peregrine falcons wintering on the Texas coast were highly mobile around tidal flats. An adult female and a 2nd-year female on the Texas coast were more sedentary than 1st-year peregrine falcons in winter. On the Texas coast, winter hunting ranges of peregrine falcons were 12 to 17 miles (20-28 km) in diameter [66]. On winter grounds in an urban area of Brazil, the estimated hunting ranges were 1.21 mi² (3.14 km²) for one male and 3.93 mi² (10.17 km²) for one female [1].

Peregrine falcon density estimates across North America
Location Density Estimate Date of Estimate
southeastern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands 1 pair/10.0-80.0 km between occupied cliffs 1969-1985 [4]
Kuskokwim River, Alaska 1 pair/9-47 km 1980 (Ambrose 1980 cited in [122])
Alaska, arctic 1 pair/3.2-3.8 km along river corridor 1990s (Swem 2002 unpublished data cited in a review by [190])
Northwest Territories, arctic 1 pair/97-362 km² 1982-1985 [21]
Rankin Inlet, Nunavut 1 pair/15.5 -26.5 km² or 1 pair/3.3 km, average linear distance 1981-1995 [42,44,45,99]
western Greenland 1 pair/92-116 km² average 1984-1985 [116]
Langara Island, British Columbia 1 pair/3.2-4.3 km average 1968-1975 [130]
California, northern coast 1 pair/471-654 km² 2001 (Walton 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190])
California, insular and coastal zones 1 pair/23.8-51.5 km, linear distance 1975-1976 [170]
Colorado and Utah, Dinosaur National Monument 1 pair/5.1-6.4 km² No data (Petersburg 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190])
Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park 1 pair/16.3 km² 1988-1989 (review by [190])
Texas 1 bird/50 km² 1993-1994 [66]
Urban populations 1 pair/3.6 km² 2001 (review by [190])

COVER REQUIREMENTS Cliff nest sites: Eyries are typically on broad, open cliff ledges or in shallow caves and range from 32 to 86 feet² (3-8 m²) in area [43,144,170]. Eyries may also be found in deep recesses and rock cavities known as "potholes" [27,193] that have been carved out of cliffs by weathering. Small amounts of vegetation are common at eyries [43,144,170].

Peregrine falcons do not build nests [144]. Rather, they make scrapes (scratch out a shallow bowl in the substrate on a ledge) or take over unused nests built by other avian species [129,144,185]. Scrapes are typically 7 to 9 inches (17-22 cm) in diameter and 1 to 2 inches (3-5 cm) deep. Ledges with a long history of use tend to contain more substrate than ledges that have supported minimal nesting in the past [144]. Multiple scrapes may be made during courtship before one is chosen for nesting [140,144]. The purpose of making multiple scrapes is currently unknown.

A ledge must be large enough to hold a brood of young as they develop. Several ledges on a cliff may be used for nesting, but often only a few ledges are most preferred. Some eyries are used repeatedly over time, but not necessarily by the same pair. All but very small cliffs have some ledges that are potentially suitable for a peregrine falcon nest. Thus, availability of cliff ledges is likely not a limiting factor for peregrine falcons in most habitats [144].

Preferred eyrie ledges have high overhanging rock that allows adults to easily fly in and out of the nest site [170] and provides protection from the weather, falling rocks, and predators [27,144]. However, overhangs do not appear to be a requirement [68,87]. Historically, some peregrine falcon eyries on the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, were sheltered by the roots of Sitka spruce trees growing on the cliff brink [78] or under overhanging vegetation and snags at the top of the cliff [11]. Brush above eyries may screen the nest from predators [27]. Vegetation on nest ledges provides shade for young peregrine falcons. Fecal matter combined with prey remains may provide a nutritive base on which grasses or other vegetation may establish [26]. Shade at eyries is essential when day time temperatures reach 90 ºF (32 ºC) or higher. Adults may be able to shade nestlings during periods of excessive heat, but adults have limited tolerance to direct sunlight as well [126].

Cliff charcteristics: Characteristics of nesting cliffs are highly variable, depending on local availability, prey abundance, competition, predation pressure, and proximity to water. In inland western Greenland, availability and accessibility of prey appears to influence eyrie selection more than ledge elevation [26]. Large cliffs that offer a wide view of the surrounding landscape are used more often than small cliffs [132]. Viewing range from nest ledges in southern Greenland averaged 159 degrees [68]. Large cliffs with a wide view may make hunting easier. Large cliffs may also offer more protection from terrestrial predators than small cliffs [132]. Cliff heights required by nesting peregrine falcons may be lower in remote areas than in areas with high human disturbance [88]. Subadult females that mated with adult males in Massachusetts often nested in low-quality sites with low cliff height, high human disturbance, or poor ledges [80]. Presumably, higher-quality sites were already occupied. The highest cliffs on Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, are typically occupied first because they provide shelter from weather in spring. Peregrine falcon pairs occupy low cliffs if higher cliffs are already occupied. Pairs occupying low cliffs perch on other cliffs for a period of time after arriving in the nesting area and prior to establishing a territory [45]. Unused cliff ledges may be visited by unmated adults looking for potential territories for the future. Unmated peregrine falcons may set up a territory on an unoccupied cliff and attempt to find a mate [144].

Eyries typically have sweeping views of the surrounding landscape and overlook or are located near a permanent water source. Eyries in a Colorado study were all within 2.5 miles (4 km, x =1.5 miles (2.4 km)) of the nearest permanent water source [59]. Occupied cliffs in Utah are typically in close proximity to water including reservoirs, rivers, and marshes [140]. The average distance from nesting cliffs to water in Utah was 1,558 feet (475 m), with a range of 138 to 9,780 feet (42-2,981 m) [77]. Peregrine falcons near major water sources in Arizona generally nest low on cliffs, while pairs nesting far from water tend to nest higher. Cliffs within 6 miles (10 km) of a permanent water source are highly favored for nesting in Arizona. Peregrine falcons nesting in locations with low rainfall (57]. Water was available within 2 miles (3 km) of all eyrie cliffs in the Sierra Madre Oriental [105]. On Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, nesting cliffs were within 1,000 feet (300 m) of a major body of water, including 72% that bordered Hudson Bay [45].

When potential nesting sites are abundant, cliffs over 100 feet (30 m) tall are often selected. Where nesting sites are scarce, cliffs less than 50 feet (15 m) high may be utilized [185]. Heights of cliffs with eyries in areas with low human disturbance tend to be lower than areas of high disturbance [88]. Pairs from stable or increasing populations may nest on small cliffs that may be less than ideal [116]. Nesting cliffs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that were rated as the most favorable had a sheer or nearly sheer rock face over 200 feet (61 m) high and at least 500 feet (150 m) long, with multiple potential nesting ledges [147]. Essential habitat requirements for peregrine falcons in Colorado include cliffs ranging from 40 to 2,100 feet (12-640 m) in height, with cliffs 200 to 400 feet (60-120 m) preferred for nesting [173]. Peregrine falcons nested on vertical cliffs averaging 308 feet (94 m), with a range of 72 to 650 feet (22-198 m) high, in another Colorado study [59]. In Utah, mean nest cliff height is 178.0 to 561 feet (54.3-171 m) [77,140], with a range of 40.0 to 1,000 feet (12.2-305 m) [77,140,193]. Suitable nesting cliffs in an Arizona study varied from either ≥125 feet (38 m) in a series of cliff layers totaling ≥250 feet (80 m) or a vertical cliff face ≥200 feet (60 m) high. Cliffs primarily used for nesting in Arizona were mostly vertical (80-90°), and all cliffs were at least 70° overall, with vertical sections below the eyrie [57]. Cliffs utilized by peregrine falcons in the Sierra Madre Oriental were a minimum of 246 feet (75 m) high. In the Sierra Madre Oriental, cliffs on high ridges were 1,600 to 3,300 feet (500-1,000 m) above the valley floors [105]. Cliffs used for nesting on Langara and Cox islands, British Columbia, ranged 20 to 300 feet (6-90 m) above the beach. Langara and Cox islands were uninhabited by humans [11]. On Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, nesting peregrine falcons utilized cliffs 13 to 100 feet (4-30 m) in height [43,45]. In Greenland, nest sites were primarily on the upper half of vertical cliffs 89 to 394 feet (27-120 m) high, not including steep talus below most cliffs [26,116]. Only one eyrie in western Greenland was located on a low, broken cliff approximately 20 feet (6 m) above the ground [26]. Long cliffs are also preferred when peregrine falcons choose nesting sites [185].

Preferred roosts are often small ledges, knobs, or projections with protective overhangs on steep rock faces [144]. Multiple lookout points and available cover were considered highly desirable on a large nesting cliff in Pennsylvania and New Jersey [147]. Several roosting places are often found on a nesting cliff [144]. Perches in California were on ridges within 0.6 mile (1 km) of the eyrie [65]. Males often perch near the eyrie while the female broods the young [144].

Nest elevation: Nests are generally located on the upper half of the cliff [27,68,77,116,193]. However, this is not always true [45]. Historically, distances from the cliff brink to eyries ranged 0 to 331 feet (2-101 m) in Alaska. Eyries were 0 to 250 feet (0-80 m) up the vertical face of the cliffs [27]. In Greenland, nest sites were on the upper half of vertical cliffs 89 to 390 feet (27-120 m) high [116]. On average, eyries in Greenland were located approximately 59% above the bottom of the cliff (range 31-71%) [68]. Peregrine falcon nests at Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, were located 7 to 85 feet (2-26 m) above the cliff base [43,45]. The highest nest on Rankin Inlet was 85 feet (26 m) from the base of a 98 feet (30 m) cliff [45].

Eyrie heights above the cliff bases in southern Utah ranged 82 to 834 feet (25-260 m) [77,193]. Porter and White [140] determined that eyries in Utah can be >1,000 feet (305 m) above the cliff base. Eyrie heights above cliff bases in the Sierra Madre Oriental ranged 160 to 250 feet (50-75 m) regardless of overall cliff height [105].

Cliff exposure: Cliff orientation may be influenced by availability rather than a choice of a particular exposure in some locations [45]. Local climatic conditions may influence the importance of nest or cliff aspect [87,185]. In the Southwest and southern Rocky Mountains, southern exposures are largely avoided [57,59,69,77,140,193] due to excessive afternoon heat. All aspects other than due south, including southeast and southwest, are used for nesting in southern Utah [77,193]. Nests in the Southwest that face south or west are often on deeply recessed ledges with a boulder or vegetation on the ledge or with overhanging rock that provides afternoon shade [57,77]. Peregrine falcons in the Southwest, including unmated individuals, may utilize cliff ledges facing all directions for activities other than nesting [69].

In the Arctic, southerly exposures are preferred ([26,44,116], Blood 1973 cited in [87]). They are substantially warmer than northern exposures [26]. Nest ledges in southern Greenland faced southwest on average, with a range of southeast to north-northwest [68]. Most cliffs used by peregrine falcons on Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, faced southwest, although nesting success on north-facing cliffs was similar [45].

Alternate nest and roost sites: Although peregrine falcons primarily nest on cliff ledges (review by [190]), nesting in trees, on the ground, or on man-made structures is common [27]. The use of old or abandoned stick nests from other species, including abandoned common raven nests on electric pylons, transmission towers, stone quarries and silos; osprey and cormorant nests on channel buoys; bald eagle nests along the Pacific Coast; common raven, cormorant, and red-tailed hawk nests on sandy coastal bluffs; and other nests within snags or man-made structures, is widespread ([38,72,144,190], review by [37]). While peregrine falcons prefer cliff habitats, in the Canadian Arctic where cliffs are not present they readily nest on riverbanks, coastal areas, dykes, low mounds, or boulders. Nests in riverbanks are usually situated in hollows; in potholes under tree roots at the top of the bank; under roots; or under rock outcrops protruding from the face of the bank. Nests on dykes are usually in recesses under overhanging rocks jutting out from the dyke [75]. In Alaskan tundra, where cliffs are lacking, peregrine falcons nest on road cuts or pingos (low hills or mounds forced up by hydrostatic pressure in an area underlain by permafrost) (Ritchie 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190]). Nests on boulders and hummocks in the Canadian Arctic are typically exposed, with little or no overhead protection (Kelsall 1969 personal communication cited in [75]). In Sitka spruce forests in coastal British Columbia, peregrine falcons nest on rock outcrops and on ledges sheltered by overhanging trees or tree roots [37]. Ground nests in heather and other vegetation are uncommon and are typically in areas with no cliffs. Peregrine falcons using ground nests occasionally brood successfully, including those using ground nests accessible to mammalian predators [144].

Use of abandoned nests from other avian species appears to be most widespread in arctic and subarctic regions. Historically, 19% of nests on the Colville River, Alaska, were located in old rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus) nests [27]. Breeding peregrine falcons in coastal British Columbia utilized abandoned bald eagle nests 39 to 66 feet (12-20 m) high in Sitka spruce. Two peregrine falcon pairs likely nested in tree cavities on small islands with dense forest [38]. Several nests in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, were located in abandoned rough-legged hawk stick nests approximately 11 feet² (1 m²) or larger [43]. A pair of peregrine falcons in western Greenland nested in an old common raven nest on a northern exposure [26].

Peregrine falcons in urban and rural areas nest on office buildings, casinos, power plant smokestacks, bridges, overpasses, loading cranes, quarries, iron mines, water tanks, silos, and other structures [33,55,72,171]. Nests on such structures are often successful [171]. Peregrine falcons using man-made structures in metropolitan centers are often aided by artificial nest boxes or the addition of pea gravel to the existing structure, which provides nesting substrate [14]. Most urban peregrine falcons utilize artificial nest boxes filled with pea gravel [33]. Shaded ledges and air conditioners near plucking perches are used as roosting sites by peregrine falcons overwintering in urban Brazil. Peregrine falcons wintering in urban Brazil occupied ledges within 1.2 miles (2 km) of a river, and frequently hunted over or in the vicinity of the river [1].

Nest competition: In arctic Alaska, multiple pairs of peregrine falcons nested on the same cliff when the cliff was at least 1.75 miles (2.8 km) long [189]. Mean minimum distance between eyries in Greenland was 4.8 miles (7.7 km) [116]. In Ungava Bay, Quebec, peregrine falcon pairs did not nest on adjacent cliffs. Typically, there was at least one vacant cliff next to or across from a nesting pair [17]. At the beginning of the breeding season, resident peregrine falcons attempt to drive away competitors that arrive at a cliff first [45].

Rough-legged hawks, gyrfalcons, and common ravens utilize similar nesting sites and may compete with peregrine falcons for this resource [189,199]. Some peregrine falcon nest sites were previously used by gyrfalcons [116]. In arctic Alaska, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, rough-legged hawks, and common ravens may concurrently nest on cliffs ranging 0.75 to 5.0 miles (1.2-8.0 km) in length [189], suggesting that competition for nesting sites in the area was low. A cliff several hundred meters long in Ungava Bay, Quebec, housed successful nests of peregrine falcons, rough-legged hawks, and common ravens. Peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons also shared cliffs in Ungava Bay [17]. Peregrine falcons nesting along the Colville River, Alaska, incubated 2 rough-legged hawk eggs in addition to their own. Presumably, the peregrine falcons usurped the rough-legged hawks after egg laying began [199].

Nest fidelity: Peregrine falcons exhibit a high degree of nest-site fidelity [3,8,45,60,80,172]. High nest-site fidelity likely reinforces pair bonds [172]. Peregrine falcons typically return to the same territory to breed in successive years, but not necessarily to the same eyrie [27,35,45,116,119,138,144,169,173]. In Colorado, 77% of females and 83% of males returned to the same breeding territory in subsequent years [60]. A pair of peregrine falcons on Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, remained bonded at the same territory for at least 4 years [45]. A nest site may be used for decades, with many pairs of peregrine falcons occupying the same territory over time [144]. However, some previously used nesting sites may not be occupied every year [58]. Nest site reoccupancy rates can range from 50% to 100% [3,35,58,60].

FOOD HABITS: Diet: Peregrine falcons are generalists and show a tendency to capture virtually any small to medium-sized prey available [26,157,170]. In North America, at least 429 bird species, 10 bat species, 13 other mammal species, 4 fish (Osteichthyes) species, and insects (mainly Orthoptera and Odonata) had been cited as peregrine falcon prey as of 2002. Worldwide, the number of avian prey species may exceed 2,000 (review by [190]). Prey ranges in size from small passerines, shrews (Soricidae), and voles (Arvicolinae) to large waterfowl, owls, turkey vultures, and snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) [33,34,59]. While avian prey dominate the peregrine falcon's diet throughout its range, the proportion of other types of prey is highly variable. In a review, Sherrod [157] determined that 76.7% to 100% of the peregrine falcon diet consisted of small- to medium-sized birds, while small- to medium-sized mammals made up to 6.9% of their diets. Observations near an eyrie on the Los Padres National Forest, California, show that the peregrine falcon diet in that area was 76% birds and 24% mammals [79]. On average, the peregrine falcon diet consists of 76.7% birds, 3.4% mammals, and 19.8% invertebrates (review by [162]).

In general, passerines, shorebirds, and waterfowl are the most frequently hunted prey [144,190]. However, any bird flying above a forest canopy is potential prey for a peregrine falcon [27]. Shorebirds are common prey near aquatic habitats [140,190]. Mammals captured by peregrine falcons include shrews, bats (Tadaridae and Vespertilionidae), arctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii), voles (Microtus spp. and Clethrionomys spp.), and hares (Lagomorpha) (review by [157]). Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) can be important prey where large bat populations congregate at roosting caves [1,109,159,164]. Unusual prey include fox (Vulpes spp.) kits, frogs (Anura), and fish [144]. Nestlings of other bird species are taken as prey [150]. Large birds of prey are not typically hunted [27]. However, any predatory birds killed during territorial conflicts may be eaten [27,144]. Prey is typically 2 to 18 ounces (50-500 g) in mass. The larger size of females allows them to capture larger prey than males. Females capture and carry prey weighing up to 49 ounces (1,400 g) [144]. Large prey, including large waterfowl, are generally eaten on the spot. Smaller waterfowl are usually carried to a feeding perch or tree before being consumed [51].

Prey is usually selected in relation to availability [144]. Thus, peregrine falcon diets are highly variable by region. Major foods in urban areas include many native and nonnative passerines such as northern flickers (Colaptes auratus), blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), American robins (Turdus migratorius), mourning doves (Zenaida macroura), rock pigeons (Columba livia), and European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), as well as riparian birds if the city is near a major water source [1,33,72,131,190]. In rural Kentucky, peregrine falcons primarily hunt eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna), rock pigeons, and European starlings [39]. Primary prey in New Mexico includes Steller's jays (C. stelleri), band-tailed pigeons (Patagioenas fasciata), northern flickers, spotted towhees (Pipilo maculatus), sparrows (Emberizidae), bats, and cliff chipmunks (Tamias dorsalis) [69]. Mourning doves, broad-tailed hummingbirds (Selasphorus platycercus), Mexican jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina), bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus), Bewick's wrens (Thryomanes bewickii), great-tailed grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus), and spotted towhees are potential prey in the Sierra Madre Oriental [105].

At northern latitudes, prey availability may be more limited [26,82,150]. Prey in Alaska includes waterfowl, shorebirds, upland game birds (Galliformes), small to medium-sized passerines, dusky shrews (Sorex monticolus), voles, arctic ground squirrels, and snowshoe hares [27]. Along the Pacific coast of North America, peregrine falcons prey on marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus), ancient murrelets (Synthliboramphus antiquus), Cassin's auklets (Ptychoramphus aleuticus), fork-tailed storm-petrels (Oceanodroma furcata), and Leach's storm-petrel (O. leucorhoa) [11,141]. In British Columbia, prey remains found below a nest in a Sitka spruce included rhinoceros auklets (Cerorhinca monocerata), Cassin's auklets, pigeon guillemots (Cepphus columba), fork-tailed storm-petrels, and marbled murrelets [38]. Some seabird colonies on the British Columbia coast were 60 miles (100 km) from the nest [38]. Blue jays, blackbirds (Icteridae), and swallows (Hirundinidae) were common prey species in southern Quebec [15]. In Greenland, prey is largely limited to snow buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis), northern wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe), Lapland longspurs (Calcarius lapponicus), common redpolls (Acanthis flammea), rock ptarmigans (Lagopus muta), and red-necked phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) [26,82,150].

Availability and vulnerability of certain species may change throughout the year (review by [190]); both contribute to diet selection. A detailed study of seasonal diet changes was completed in Nunavut. At Rankin Inlet, peregrine falcons arrive in spring before most migratory prey. At this time, they rely heavily on resident rock ptarmigans and snow buntings. Horned larks, Lapland longspurs, and water pipits are also important early in the breeding season. Shorebirds and waterfowl became important food items after they arrive at Rankin Inlet. Due to their large size, waterfowl only became common prey after August, when females finish brooding young and are able to hunt [45]. The male does most of the hunting during incubation [144,174]. Arctic ground squirrels, collared lemmings (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus), and brown lemmings (Lemmus sibiricus) were occasionally recorded as prey throughout the breeding season [45]. Peregrine falcon breeding success increased in Rankin Inlet in years with an abundance of arctic ground squirrels, collared lemmings, and brown lemmings [44].

Detailed summaries of peregrine falcon prey by region are available in these sources: ([189], reviews by [157,190]).

Foraging behavior: The distance that peregrine falcons hunt from the eyrie may partially depend on breeding status, previous hunting success, and prey size [55]. Most peregrine falcons hunt within 9 miles (15 km) of the nest [27,61,65,120,140,191]. However, peregrine falcons often travel 15 miles (24 km) or more to hunt [61,120,173,191]. Females can carry prey a longer distance than males; thus, they may have larger hunting ranges [144]. On Langara Island, British Columbia, nesting peregrine falcons generally have small ranges, often hunting from perched positions at or near the eyrie [11]. At the opposite extreme, peregrine falcons in the forested interior of British Columbia traveled up to 60 miles (100 km) from the nest to prey on seabird colonies on the coast [38].

When searching for food, peregrine falcons primarily perch, but they also search while flying or walking on the ground (review by [190]). During the breeding season, adults may perch at a high vantage point on a cliff face, often near their eyrie, overlooking vast open space where birds may be flying. Peregrine falcons hunting while perched may try to blend in with surrounding features or partially hide in rock crevices to make surprise attacks [174]. During fall migration, an immature male hunted from perches or while in low flight before and after migratory flight each day, but rarely during migratory flight [40]. Hunting activity decreases during inclement weather with low cloud cover [48,82]. Hunting may be directed at prey toward the base of the eyrie rather than above the eyrie during periods of low cloud cover [82].

Adults usually eat away from the eyrie. Prey is either eaten where it is captured or carried to a favored perch or the nesting cliff before being consumed [144]. Eating perches included trees, rocks, or the ground, in areas with low risk of human disturbance [11,15]. Small prey (15,79,144,150,190]. Small birds can be plucked and eaten in flight [15]. Small prey can be captured farther away from plucking perches than large prey [1]. Alternately, large prey (>9 oz (250 g)) may be plucked, eviscerated, and either partially consumed on the ground or broken into large pieces that are carried to a plucking perch, eyrie, or left for later (review by [190], Cade and Hunt 2002 personal observation cited in a review by [190]). In one observation, a male peregrine falcon killed a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) that was too large for the male to carry back to the nest. The female retrieved the prey [15].

Peregrine falcons cache excess intact prey, especially during the breeding season [15,129,144,174,190]. Prey captured in the early morning is cached and used periodically through the day [129,144]. Historically on Langara Island, British Columbia, peregrine falcons captured more prey than was needed and left partially consumed remains at favored eating sites [11]. This was apparently an unusual observation, because peregrine falcons typically cache excess prey for later use.

Mated pairs engage in hunting, including cooperative hunting, during courtship and after young have fledged [15,27,144]. Cooperative hunting between peregrine falcons of the same gender has also been documented [48]. Food exchanges between males and females occur during courtship [15,129]. Prey is often transferred from male to female near the eyrie, and the female primarily feeds the young. As chicks age, the adults leave food at the eyrie, and the young tear it apart and eat it [79]. Aerial transfers between adults and fledglings are also common. Fledglings may depend on their parents for food for 6 weeks or more after fledging [129].

Hunting methods: Peregrine falcons use a variety of hunting techniques including stooping from a soaring position at flying or groundlevel targets, long-distance flapping flight toward groundlevel targets; low-flying surprise attacks at groundlevel targets; low-maneuvering groundlevel flight; high direct or maneuvering flight; short-range attacks on flying targets; pursuit of flying targets; and attacks on groundlevel targets from a perched position [24,48,51,82,152,174,191]. Peregrine falcons may use terrain features or other structures to hide from prey until they are close enough to make a surprise attack ([48], Dekker 1999 cited in a review by [190]). Immature peregrine falcons may engage in long pursuits by chasing prey or repeatedly swooping at flying prey [48]. Aquatic birds may be pursued over water [51]. When hunting over open water, peregrine falcons use high-speed, low-level flights, using the waves to conceal their approach and taking swimming birds by surprise [28]. Ducks (Anatidae) may be seized on the ground, in shallow water, or just after flushing [50]. Fish are captured when they break the water's surface. When peregrine falcons are perched below potential flying prey, they may circle upwards to intercept their prey, maneuvering to keep prey flying until the prey becomes exhausted and can be grabbed in midair; or circle up until the peregrine falcon is above the prey, forcing the prey to seek cover in trees or on the ground. Peregrine falcons hunt birds and possibly small mammals on the ground by exploring vegetation with their feet, attempting to flush prey [28]. Occasionally, peregrine falcons run down invertebrates, reptiles, small mammals, and young or newly fledged birds on the ground [82,190]. Peregrine falcons hunting bats that are entering or exiting caves may use several hunting methods [159,164]. Peregrine falcons stoop at swarms of bats near the cave opening, fly into a large group of flying bats, or fly parallel to and grab bats on the edge of the swarm [159]. Young fledglings are typically not skilled enough to capture avian prey, but they often successfully capture insects on the ground and on the wing [15,28,144].

The stoop method of attack is the most common hunting tactic utilized. Peregrine falcons stoop at flocks as well as individual birds [24]. When peregrine falcons attack flocking birds, they attempt to separate individuals from the group, making the individuals more vulnerable to capture ([23], Tinbergen 1951 cited in a review by [190]). When stooping, a perched peregrine falcon flies above prey and dives after a suitable height is reached [144]. Stoops may originate from 160 to >4,900 feet (50-1,500 m) above an intended target, with a dive of up to 3,540 feet (1,080 m) [2,24,158]. Diving peregrine falcons reach may velocities of 56 to 250 mph (90-400 kph) [28,73,108,144,175]. However, diving speeds of 69 to 87 mph (112-140 kph) or less may be more typical [2]. Peregrine falcons may pull out of a dive to grab or strike prey, or repeatedly dive to force prey into water or on open ground where it can be grabbed [28,152]. Prey is often killed and eaten in flight [144,159,190]. Multiple accounts of successful and unsuccessful hunting attempts are summarized in these sources: [48,152].

Hunting success depends on many factors including age of the individual, breeding status, hunger level [15,149], hunting determination, weather, prey abundance, achievement of surprise, time of day, season, prey species, and prey behavior [48,51]. Depending on these factors, hunting success rates can range from 7.3% to 83.2% [15,149,152,174,190]. In western Washington, peregrine falcons hunting dunlins (Calidris alpina) in winter had a success rate of 47% in estuaries and 12.5% on coastal beaches [23,24]. An adult male had hunting success rates ranging from 73% to 100% on open coastal marshes [28]. Adults are significantly more successful during the breeding season than outside the breeding season (34.9% and 12.7%, respectively, P<0.001). Outside the breeding season, adults have significantly higher hunting success than immatures (12.7% and 7.3%, respectively, P<0.001) (review by [149]). Peregrine falcons that are highly motivated are more successful at hunting than less motivated peregrine falcons. Motivation was determined by the perceived intensity of hunting efforts [174].

PREDATORS:
After fledging, peregrine falcons are largely safe from predation [132]. Adults are typically only killed by large avian predators such as eagles, gyrfalcons, and great horned owls (review by [190]). Peregrine falcons are occasionally killed during territorial fights [45]. Rare accounts of remains of adult peregrine falcons at eyries have been noted (Peters 1993 personal communication, Morgan 1993 personal communication, and Bell 1993 personal communication cited in [144]).

Predators of young peregrine falcons include adult peregrine falcons, great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, and osprey [8,190]. Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and gray wolf (Canis lupus) predation has been observed in Alaska [27]. Bears (Ursus spp.), wolves (Canis spp.), foxes (Vulpes and Urocyon spp.), wolverines (Gulo gulo), short-tailed weasels (Mustela erminea), wild cats (Lynx spp.), ground squirrels, and golden eagles may prey on peregrine falcon eggs and young nestlings at easily accessible nests [27,190]. Northern raccoon (Procyon lotor) predation is documented rarely [80,171]. Peregrine falcons nesting on low cliffs or the ground are more aggressive towards carnivorous mammals than those nesting on high cliffs (review by [190]). Peregrine falcons may stoop at potential predators to scare them off [79]. High cliffs in inland western Greenland protect young peregrine falcons from predation by arctic foxes (V. lagopus) and possibly polar bears (U. maritimus) [26]. Great horned owls [9,171], golden eagles, and other peregrine falcons [171] are the principal predators during reintroductions ([16] cited in a review by [190]).

Male peregrine falcons may attack their own fledglings. Injuries suffered by the fledglings during these attacks may be fatal [183]. Instances of peregrine falcons eating their offspring apparently occurred after the nestlings died from an unrelated cause (Mearns 1993 personal communication, Horne 1993 personal communication, and Treleaven 1993 personal communication cited by [144]).

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
Species-level status:
None [179]

Subspecies status:
American peregrine falcon: Recovery
arctic peregrine falcon: Recovery [179]

In 1999, the US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final ruling to remove the peregrine falcon from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, thereby removing all federal protections under the Endangered Species Act [121].

OTHER STATUS:
Although delisted from its federal status as an endangered species, legal protections provided under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and state laws still apply [121]. Information on state- and province-level protection status of animals in the United States and Canada is available at NatureServe, although recent changes in status may not be included.

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
From the 1950s to the mid-1970s, global peregrine falcon population declines resulted from eggshell thinning and embryo mortality due to use of organochlorine pesticides, particularly DDT and DDE, in agriculture and forestry [101,134,137,190]. No known breeding pairs were present in the eastern United States by the mid-1960s [9]. Adult mortality during the same time period was linked to the insecticides aldrin and dieldrin [134]. Risebrough and Peakall [148] concluded that dieldrin played a more substantial role in peregrine falcon decline in Britain than it did in North America. In the 1970s, peregrine falcons were placed on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (review by [190]).

Recovery of peregrine falcon populations began after DDT and similar pesticides were banned in 1972 [137]. Intensive reintroduction efforts began throughout the United States and elsewhere to promote population recoveries [9,32,55]. Populations in North America were increasing at a rate of 2.9% to 25% per year between 1974 and 2000, partially due to reintroduction efforts [30,46,64,151]. Nesting sites in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland were increasingly occupied between 1980 and 1985 compared to previous decades, with some nesting territories consistently used from year to year [4,17,21,22,67,116,125]. Nesting success was higher in western Mexico from 1976 to 1985 compared to 1968 to 1974 [139]. These findings demonstrate the recovery of peregrine falcons in those areas. By 1999, populations within the United States had recovered sufficiently to prompt the US Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the peregrine falcon [121]. Despite recovery efforts in the United States, peregrine falcons migrating to Central and South America or areas where DDT or similar pesticides are still used may continue to accumulate pesticide residues [85].

Disturbances that may have contributed to the peregrine falcon decline include destruction of wetlands, construction of roads and other structures, poaching, removal of eggs and nestlings from nests, disturbance from recreational activities, and climate change [101]. Because peregrine falcons use a wide range of habitats and landscapes, the effects of habitat degradation are difficult to assess. The greatest effects are likely due to losses of nesting sites, which may be limited. Migrating and wintering peregrine falcons are often attracted to wetlands where shorebirds and waterfowl are abundant. Loss of wetlands would be detrimental for peregrine falcons that winter in these areas. Peregrine falcon response to agricultural development is variable. Because agricultural practices attract potential prey, peregrine falcons may benefit from agriculture (review by [190]). In contradiction, Young [198] asserted that peregrine falcons may decline as a result of agricultural development because peregrine falcons frequently utilize undisturbed riparian areas, forests, or other undisturbed habitats. Peregrine falcon response to agricultural activities likely depends on the level of human disturbance and prey availability [198].

Human disturbance may disrupt the reproductive behavior of peregrine falcons [57,86]. Rock climbing and other recreational activities pose a threat to peregrine falcons [144]. The Peregrine Falcon Recovery Plan, produced by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, discourages any land use practices that may disturb the habitat or prey base of peregrine falcons within a 10-mile (16 km) radius of an active nest [117]. Sonic booms may distress peregrine falcons. At an eyrie on the Los Padres National Forest, California, 2 adult peregrine falcons responded to a sonic boom by flying around and "screaming" for a short period [79]. However, effects of jet overflights on nesting behavior were minimal in Alaska [136]. Ellis [57] recommended that recreational activities and human development be minimized whenever peregrine falcons occupy an area. Stephenson and Calcarone [165] concluded that protecting nesting sites from human disturbance is critical for peregrine falcon conservation.

Timing of disturbance of nest sites seems critical [144]. Nesting peregrine falcons are intolerant of excessive human disturbance; they may abandon a nesting site during courtship and move to another ledge or cliff if possible. Breeding pairs may attempt to continue nesting if eggs or nestlings are being brooded [144,173], but often, the nest is deserted [144]. Desertion of an eyrie with eggs usually only occurs after frequent or prolonged disturbance that keeps the adults from incubating eggs for long periods of time [144,187,192]. Peregrine falcon young can perish in harsh environments if the parents, panicked by human disturbance, are away from the nest for long periods [187]. Peregrine falcons nest successfully in cities and other areas with high human activity if humans do not interfere with or harass the peregrine falcons [144].

Additional details on the reintroduction, recovery, and management of peregrine falcons in North America can be found in chapters 51 to 57 of Cade and others [31]. FIRE EFFECTS AND MANAGEMENT SPECIES: Falco peregrinus

Peregrine falcon eyrie shortly after the Bear Fire in Dinosaur National Monument was extinguished. Three nestlings successfully fledged.

DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS:
Due to their high mobility, fire-related mortality of adult raptors is likely low. Nestling mortality is potentially higher because nestlings are unable to flee approaching fire [110]. However, since peregrine falcons nest on cliff faces, rock outcrops, and similar sites, the potential for damage to the nesting site or nestling mortality is low but possible [71] if vegetation on the nest ledge catches fire. Fire may threaten peregrine falcon nests at ground level amongst dense vegetation [144].

Spring fires may disturb peregrine falcon nesting [36]. Fire fighting activities, such as helitack operations, vehicles, construction of fire breaks, fire crew camps, and retardant drops, could disturb peregrine falcons during the nesting season and affect nesting success [71,123]. However, negative effects of fire fighting activity were not observed at an eyrie in Colorado (Welch 2008 personal communication [181]). In Arizona, management recommendations include restricting prescribed fire within 1 mile (0.6 km) of cliffs with occupied eyries and within 2 miles (3 km) from the base of cliffs with occupied eyries [57]. In cliff habitats, spring burning (mid-April to late June) may disturb nestlings if the fires are adjacent to occupied cliffs [36].

Observations of an eyrie in Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado, showed that peregrine falcons can successfully fledge even if a wildfire is active on top of the cliff (see photo above). The Bear Fire, which started on 27 June 2002 and was contained on or about 7 July 2002, burned the area immediately surrounding the eyrie. Three young successfully fledged while the fire was still active. Fire crews and helicopters in the immediate vicinity seemed to have no adverse effects on the reproductive habits of the parents. Helmet sketches (drawings of the head coloration for each bird) indicate that this was the same pair that occupied the territory the previous year. The territory had been occupied regularly by peregrine falcon pairs that successfully fledged young without failure since at least 1997 (Welch 2008 personal communication [181]).

Peregrine falcons in California have been observed feeding in burned areas zero to >10 years after a fire [36]. Similarly, peregrine falcons were observed hovering and flying over smoking meadows along fire perimeters during the 1988 wildfires in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming [76].

INDIRECT FIRE EFFECTS: Wetlands in eastern Alaska support a large variety of wildlife [192] and may provide a large prey base for peregrine falcons. Fire maintains many marshes in northern regions. Periodic fires maintain marshes by preventing encroachment of woody vegetation and burning dry matted grasses. Wetland productivity decreased in eastern Alaska as a result of fire exclusion, although the importance of the decrease is unknown [192].

Many open areas in mountainous regions are maintained by fire and logging [163]. Peregrine falcons occur in habitats such as pinyon-juniper, ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, fir-spruce, redwood, and sequoia forests [110]. These plant communities are considered fire-dependent [196]. Historically, fire in pinyon-juniper habitat occurred at 10- to 30-year intervals. Fire-return intervals for ponderosa pine habitat average every 5 to 10 years, with regional variability. Historically, "high-intensity", stand-replacing fires in Douglas-fir habitats in the Pacific Northwest occurred every 100 to 500 years. In the absence of fire, Douglas-fir is replaced successionally by western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), western redcedar (Thuja plicata), and/or firs. Where spruce and fir-spruce forests occur, fog and summer rains typically keep the understory damp, often preventing fires from spreading. During periods of drought, fir-spruce forests may experience "intense" fires. In redwood and giant sequoia forests, "low-intensity" fires occur on mesic sites from 200- to 500-year intervals. Giant sequoia do not sprout after fire and require seed to reestablish [110].

Although not specified by Mitchell [123], peregrine falcons likely inhabit the Navajo sandstone cliffs that dominate the canyon walls of Zion National Park, Utah (see Cover requirements). Between 1751 and 1980, average fire-return intervals in Zion National Park were 1.3 to 2.7 years on a high-elevation plateau. Plateau cover includes ponderosa pine forests and Gambel oak woodlands. Elevations of the plateaus are 6,500 to 7,800 feet (1,980-2,380 m) [114]. Average fire-return intervals in Zion National Park were historically infrequent at low elevations ([123],[184] cited by [123]). Cliff vegetation at Zion National Park consists of isolated ponderosa pine, mountain-mahogany, manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), and other vegetation growing in cracks in the bedrock. Cliffs are occasionally affected by lightning-ignited wildfires. However, cliff vegetation usually grows is isolated patches, preventing fires from spreading [123]. Peregrine falcons also utilize pinyon-juniper woodlands and ponderosa pine forests in southern Utah [193] and likely use these habitats within Zion National Park as well. West and Loope ([184] cited in [123]) determined that the average fire-return interval for pinyon-juniper woodlands in Zion National Park was 160 years.

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  • 171. Tordoff, Harrison B.; Martell, Mark S.; Redig, Patrick T.; Solensky, Matthew J. 2000. Midwest peregrine falcon restoration, 2000 report, [Online]. In: Midwest Peregrine Society--Annual reports. St. Paul, MN: Midwest Peregrine Society (Producer). Available: http://www.midwestperegrine.org/ [2010, April 26]. [70863]
  • 179. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Endangered Species. 2013. Threatened and endangered animals and plants, [Online]. Available: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/wildlife.html. [62042]
  • 181. Welch, Michael. 2008. [Email to Peggy Luensmann]. October 6. Regarding fire observations at a peregrine falcon eyrie at Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Dinosaur National Monument. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77863]
  • 185. Whitacre, David F. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, 1976. [Purchase Order No. 659-R3-76]. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 4; Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute Contribution 4. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 19 p. [71180]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]
  • 192. Whitlock, Clair M.; Kastelic, Joseph P.; Johnson, Theodore Alan; Haertel, Paul; Roberts, Alvin Y.; Settles, Raymond L.; Filkins, Elgin E.; Norum, Rodney A.; Kelleyhouse, David G.; Williams, Thomas D. 1979. The Fortymile Interim Fire Management Plan. Fairbanks, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Fairbanks District Office. 97 p. [Prepared by the Fire Subcommittee of the Alaska Land Managers Cooperative Task Force]. [21231]

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Preferred Habitat: Landscape

Cliffs and tall, man-made structures surrounded by open landscapes with nearby riparian areas provide desirable habitat for peregrine falcons [54,57,59,140,144]. Peregrine falcons can be found from mountainous regions to coastal areas [27,36,59,130]. Topography ranges from flatlands and high plateaus to rugged canyons, especially when associated with high nesting cliffs surrounded by open expanses near permanent to semipermanent water sources [57,140]. Peregrine falcons nest on cliff ledges or stick nests on cliffs above or near open water including lakes, ponds, rivers, and seas [35]. Peregrine falcons usually nest 0.5 to 1 mile (0.8-1.6 km) from water ([13] as cited in [87]).

High cliffs with sweeping views are generally preferred over low cliffs and hills or narrow canyons and ravines [144]. The importance of cliff height and length is influenced by local availability and likelihood of disturbance [88,185]. Habitats supporting high concentrations of birds within a 10-mile (16 km) radius of nesting sites are considered essential to the peregrine falcon. Habitats that typically have high concentrations of birdlife include grain croplands and riparian areas along rivers, ponds, marshes, and meadows. Additionally, open areas where avian prey are vulnerable, including pastures, grasslands, mountain valleys, and gorges, are highly beneficial to peregrine falcons [173]. In southwestern New Mexico, prey are vulnerable to peregrine falcons due to large open canyons and valleys. This vulnerability may compensate for lower prey abundance compared to other areas where peregrine falcons occur [69]. Peregrine falcons bathe frequently and may benefit from the accessibility of gravel bars in or next to rivers [27].

Peregrine falcons in Alaska favor cliff habitats near large river systems and coastal areas [27,145]. The landscape along the Yukon River, Alaska, has abundant cliffs and diverse lowlands comprised of low, rounded benches and ridges spanning southwest to northeast. These areas experience frequent wildfires and other disturbances [5]. Landscape features in Idaho include volcanic plateaus and faulted/folded mountain ranges reaching 7,000 to 9,000 feet (2,100-2,700 m) above sea level. Most valleys are over 6,000 feet (1,800 m) in elevation ([97,176] cited in [18]). Habitat in central and eastern Kentucky has highly dissected cliff systems with complex topography. Landscape features highly influence the movements and dispersal of fledglings and reintroduced peregrine falcons in Kentucky. Nonforested corridors within a forested matrix were essential to fledgling and reintroduced peregrine falcon dispersal. Agricultural areas with forested river corridors were also important for reintroductions in Kentucky [55]. In southern Greenland, the landscape is characterized by steep cliffs, abundant lakes and marshes, and mountainous areas <3,300 feet (1,000 m) in elevation [67].

  • 5. Ambrose, Skip; Ulvi, Steve. 1990. Peregrine falcon research in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska. Park Science. 10(4): 18-20. [14464]
  • 18. Boccard, Bruce. 1980. Important fish and wildlife habitats of Idaho: An inventory. Boise, ID: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon-Idaho Area Office. Unpublished report on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 161 p. [18109]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 35. Calef, George W.; Heard, Douglas C. 1979. Reproductive success of peregrine falcons and other raptors at Wager Bay and Melville Peninsula, Northwest Territories. The Auk. 96: 662–674. [70765]
  • 54. Dunn, Jon L.; Alderfer, Jonathan, eds. 2006. Field guide to the birds of North America. 5th ed. Washington, DC: The National Geographic Society. 503 p. [68123]
  • 55. Dzialak, Matthew Richard. 2003. Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus, reintroduction in cliff habitat in Kentucky. Kexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 219 p. Dissertation. [71016]
  • 57. Ellis, David H. 1982. The peregrine falcon in Arizona: habitat utilization and management recommendations. Institute for Raptor Studies: Research Reports. No. 1. 24 p. [70782]
  • 67. Falk, Knud; Moller, Soren. 1988. Status of the peregrine falcon in South Greenland: population density and reproduction. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 37-43. [69543]
  • 69. Falxa, Gary A. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Gila National Forest. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 3; Chihuahuan Desert Reseach Institute Contribution 3. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 31 p. [71179]
  • 87. Herman, Margaret; Willard, E. Earl. 1978. Peregrine falcon and its habitat. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Forest System Cooperative Forestry, Forestry Research, Region 1. 23 p. [13730]
  • 88. Hickey, Joseph J. 1942. Eastern population of the duck hawk. The Auk. 59: 176–204. [70799]
  • 97. Idaho Division of Tourism and Industrial Development. 1977. Idaho almanac. Boise, ID: State of Idaho, Executive Office of the Governor; State of Idaho, Idaho Division of Tourism and Industrial Development. 447 p. [77631]
  • 130. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1977. Behavioral ecology of coastal peregrines (Falco peregrinus pealei). Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 490 p. Dissertation. [70743]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 145. Reed, Edward B. 1956. Notes on some birds and mammals of the Colville River, Alaska. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 70(3): 130-136. [70384]
  • 173. Torres, John; Bissell, Steve; Craig, Gerald; Graul, Walter; Langlois David. 1978. Essential habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife in Colorado. Denver, CO: Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management Section. 84 p. [66642]
  • 13. Behle, William H.; Perry, M. L. 1975. Raptor study of the Utah oil shale area. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. 149 p. [Prepared for Bureau of Land Management: Contract #52500-CTH-450]. [77488]
  • 36. California Department of Forestry. 1982. Chaparral management program. Final environmental impact report. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Forestry. 152 p. [+ appendices]. [71302]
  • 59. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1981. Physical and biological analysis of Colorado peregrine nesting habitat. Colorado Division of Wildlife: Job Progress Report-- Endangered wildlife investigations. July 1, 1979 to February 28, 1981. [Denver, CO: Colorado Division of Wildlife]. Unpublished report on file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [70785]
  • 176. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region. 1978. Idaho supplement to USDA Forest Service environmental statement: Roadless Area Review and Evaluation II (RARE II). [USDA-FS-WO FY 78-04-DE Leg]. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region (R4); Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region (R1). 77 p. [+ appendices]. [77630]
  • 185. Whitacre, David F. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, 1976. [Purchase Order No. 659-R3-76]. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 4; Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute Contribution 4. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 19 p. [71180]

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Associated Plant Communities

More info for the terms: cactus, cover, density, forbs, hardwood, lichens, mesic, shrub, shrubs, tundra, xeric

Alaska: Clifftops habitats along the Colville River are overgrown with dense thickets of alder (Alnus spp.) and willow (Salix spp.). Mixed spruce-quaking aspen (Picea spp.-Populus tremuloides) forests with prickly rose (Rosa acicularis) characterize cliff brinks on the Yukon River [27]. In Alaskan tundra, peregrine falcons hunt in wet tussock-heath (Ericacea) with many small lakes and sedge-grass (Cyperacea-Poacea) marshes. Drier areas with similar vegetation are also commonly used [191].

Pacific Northwest: In western Washington, peregrine falcons hunt birds along beaches, low dunes, and surrounding areas with Sitka spruce (P. sitchensis), shore pine (Pinus contorta var. contorta), California wax-myrtle (Myrica californica), and European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria), particularly in winter [23].

In Washington and Oregon, peregrine falcons occupy cliffs in relatively open habitats ranging from low-elevation grasslands to high-elevation pine (Pinus spp.) forests in all seral stages ([56,143] cited in [25]). Peregrine falcons are rarely seen in the shrub-steppe in southeastern Washington [117].

California: In coastal California, peregrine falcons inhabit coastal sage scrub communities that are associated with coastal dunes, perennial grasslands, annual grasslands, croplands, pastures, coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii)-hardwood forests, coastal oak (Quercus spp.) woodlands, montane hardwood woodlands, closed-cone pine-cypress (Cupressus spp.) woodlands, chamise-red shank (Adenostoma fasciculatum-A. sparsifolium) chaparral, and mixed-chaparral communities. Coastal sage scrub is vegetated with bush lupine (Lupinus spp.) and manycolored lupine (L. versicolor) on exposed, oceanside sites and coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis) on less exposed sites [47]. East of San Francisco Bay, peregrine falcons occupy cliffs and rocky areas in coastal sage scrub habitat on southwest-facing slopes. Dominant species include California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), Eastern Mojave buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), black sage (Salvia mellifera), and snakeweed (Gutierrezia spp.) [117].

According to Verner and Boss [180], optimal habitat for peregrine falcons (based on high breeding density or use of a defined area) is not available in the Sierra Nevada. However, suitable habitat (intermediate density or use) is available there. Suitable breeding, foraging, and resting habitats in the Sierra Nevada include gray pine (Pinus sabiniana)-oak woodland, chaparral, Pacific ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa var. ponderosa) forest, mountain meadow, riparian deciduous woodland, and mixed-conifer associations in spring, summer, and fall [180]. Blue oak (Q. douglasii) savannas of the western Sierra Nevada [118,180] and Jeffrey pine (P. jeffreyi) associations provide suitable foraging and resting habitat in spring and fall. Low- and midelevation riparian deciduous woodlands as well as wet and dry mountain meadows provide suitable habitat for the peregrine falcon in the Sierra Nevada. Annual grasslands, California red fir (Abies magnifica), Sierra lodgepole pine (P. c. var. murrayana), and high-elevation riparian deciduous woodlands provide marginal breeding habitat (area used regularly, but does not play a major role in maintaining the population) for peregrine falcons. Peregrine falcons do not generally forage in associations with canopy cover ≥70% in the Sierra Nevada. They utilize all seral stages of forested, woodland, and chaparral habitats in the Sierra Nevada [180]. However, late-seral stages of chaparral may reduce prey availability [113]. Peregrine falcons likely occur in redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) associations [53,196].

Dominant plants in riparian areas of southern California deserts where peregrine falcons may occur [135] include white burrobrush (Hymenoclea salsola) [91,98], cattle saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa), desert rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus paniculatus), catclaw acacia (Acacia greggii) [98], desert trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum), desert stingbush (Eucnide urens), valley ringstem (Anulocaulis annulatus), Arizona honeysweet (Tidestromia oblongifolia), spurge (Euphorbia spp.), Schott's pygmy-cedar (Peucephyllum schottii), sweetbush (Bebbia juncea), and Parry's wirelettuce (Stephanomeria parryi) [91].

Intermountain West and Rocky Mountains: In the western United States, peregrine falcons likely occur in singleleaf pinyon-juniper (P. monophylla-Juniperus spp.), ponderosa pine, Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca), and spruce-fir (Abies spp.) associations [53,196]. Hejl and others [83], however, suggested peregrine falcons are rare in pinyon-juniper and pine-oak woodlands and in ponderosa pine, Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir-dominated mixed-conifer, Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia), and quaking aspen forests in the Rocky Mountains. Peregrine falcons may occasionally use clearings in Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir (P. engelmannii-A. lasiocarpa) forests for foraging [161].

In Idaho, peregrine falcons occupy the Middle Rocky Mountains, which occurs on the eastern border of Idaho ([97,176] cited in [18]). Forest types include Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir, Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir, and quaking aspen habitats, with sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) and antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) steppes and mountain meadows at lower elevations ([176] cited in [18]). Peregrine falcons are occasional visitors in shrublands and grasslands. Shrublands with peregrine falcons include big sagebrush (A. tridentata), low sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), gray horsebrush-green rabbitbrush-(Tetradymia canescens-C. viscidiflorus)-big sagebrush, green rabbitbrush-big sagebrush-grass, Gardner's saltbush-winterfat-Indian ricegrass (A. gardneri-Krascheninnikovia lanata-Achnatherum hymenoides) types and a mixed-shrub vegetation type that is restricted to lava flows. Grassland types include bluebunch wheatgrass-threetip sagebrush (Pseudoroegneria spicata-A. tripartita)-green rabbitbrush, western wheatgrass-povertyweed-Baltic rush (Pascopyrum smithii-Iva axillaris-Juncus balticus), Indian ricegrass-green rabbitbrush-prickly-pear (Opuntia spp.), giant wildrye (Leymus cinereus)-green rabbitbrush-big sagebrush, and crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) communities [117].

Nest sites in Colorado are surrounded by cottonwood (Populus spp.)-willow, ponderosa pine/shrub, open willow-birch (Betula spp.) meadows, ponderosa pine-Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir, Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir-Engelmann spruce, Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir, Gambel oak-mountain mahogany-serviceberry (Q. gambelii-Cercocarpus-Amelanchier spp.) mountain brushlands, and singleleaf pinyon-juniper communities. Common associates included quaking aspen, white fir (A. concolor), and limber pine (P. flexilis) [59]. In northern Colorado, migrant peregrine falcons are common in xeric mixed grasslands dominated by wheatgrass (Triticeae), Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa), prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), threeawn (Aristida spp.), other perennial grasses, and forbs [117].

Desert Southwest: In Arizona, breeding sites may be found in a broad range of vegetation types from wetlands, riparian areas, and montane coniferous forests to Mohave and Sonoran desert scrub [57]. Peregrine falcons overwinter around the Colorado River Delta at the western edge of the Sonoran Desert [90]. Vegetation distribution in riparian areas of the Sonoran Desert is highly variable due to variation in summer and winter rainfall [135]. Historically, Fremont cottonwood-Goodding willow (Populus fremontii-S. gooddingii) woodlands were common in the Colorado River Delta. Upland terraces were vegetated with mesquite (Prosopis spp.) bosques. Marshlands associated with oxbows, backwaters, and seepages were common. More recently, cottonwood-willow woodlands covered a limited area, upland areas were developed for agriculture, and some marshlands were partially maintained by agricultural runoff [90]. Smoketree (Psorothamnus spinosus) is also a major shrub species along large drainages along the western edge of the Sonoran Desert. Desert ironwood (Olneya tesota) and blue paloverde (Parkinsonia florida) are locally dominant [135].

Permanent streams in the Great Basin Desert may be occupied by peregrine falcons. Streambanks are dominated by Fremont cottonwood, narrowleaf cottonwood (P. angustifolia), arroyo willow (S. lasiolepis), black willow (S. nigra), sandbar willow (S. exigua), and Goodding willow [135]. In Utah, Fremont cottonwood generally dominates in rivre canyons, while Colorado pinyon-Utah juniper (P. edulis-J. osteosperma) associations are dominant on cliff tops [77]. Eyries (nest sites) in southern Utah are associated with pinyon-juniper and deciduous riparian woodlands. These habitats support a diverse potential prey base [193]. Peregrine falcons are transient or irregularly seen in submontane Gambel oak shrub communities in Utah [111].

Peregrine falcons may occupy cliffs and hunt in wooded areas in New Mexico. Habitats within the New Mexico landscape include galleta grass (Pleuraphis spp.) and black grama (Bouteloua eriopoda) grasslands, oneseed juniper (J. monosperma)-Colorado pinyon woodlands, and club cholla (Grusonia clavata)-prickly-pear-soapweed yucca-fourwing saltbush (Yucca glauca-A. canescens) and rabbitbrush-Apache-plume (Chrysothamnus spp.-Fallugia paradoxa)-fourwing saltbush riparian scrublands [117]. Dominant vegetation in southwestern New Mexico includes cactus, agave (Agave spp.), prickly-pear, and sometimes dense cover of Gambel oak, gray oak (Q. grisea), silverleaf oak (Q. hypoleucoides), mountain-mahogany, Colorado pinyon, and alligator juniper (J. deppeana). In New Mexico, common vegetation in areas that had burned within 25 years included New Mexico locust (Robinia neomexicana) and currant (Ribes spp.). Between 5,000 and 8,000 feet (1,500-2,400 m) elevation, most cliffs in southwestern New Mexico were surrounded by interior ponderosa pine (Pinus p. var. scopulorum) and Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir on mesic slopes or by oak-juniper-pine scrublands on xeric slopes [69]. Peregrine falcons are rare summer visitors to sand shinnery oak (Q. havardii) and honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) communities in southeastern New Mexico [10].

In the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico, vegetation along ridges and canyon rims includes pine and oak. Steep-sloped canyon walls support grasses and shrubs, including ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), sotol (Dasylirion spp.), yucca (Yucca spp.), and lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla). Streambeds are dominated by walnut (Juglans spp.), Mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa), Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis), bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum), hackberry (Celtis spp.), alligator juniper, and oak [185]. Cottonwood and desert willow are found along primary drainages with associates such as screwbean mesquite (P. pubescens), honey mesquite, desert-thorn (Lycium spp.), and saltbush. In secondary drainages, acacia, sensitive plant (Mimosa spp.), baccharis (Baccharis spp.), snakewood (Condalia spp.), and burrobrush are associated with desert willow and/or mesquite [135].

The low-desert landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert in Texas and north-central Mexico is dominated by creosotebush (Larrea tridentata), mesquite, acacia, and sensitive plant. Elevations at 3,600 to 4,600 feet (1,100-1,400 m) are vegetated with sotol scrub or shortgrass prairie. Juniper-oak communities are found at 4,600 to 5,600 feet (1,400-1,700 m). Pinyon-oak-juniper associations and coniferous forests including pine (Pinus spp.) and Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir occur at the highest elevations [94].

Great Plains: In Texas and Oklahoma, peregrine falcons are resident in sand shinnery oak communities [52]. Peregrine falcons are common on the Texas coast during migration. Occupied beach habitats are vegetated with little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens), seashore dropseed (Sporobolus virginicus), and gulfdune paspalum (Paspalum monostachyum) ([195] cited in [95]).

Eastern United States: Primary habitat in eastern and central Kentucky cliff systems and valley slopes includes mixed-mesophytic and northern hardwood forests, including eastern hemlock-yellow-poplar-American beech (Tsuga canadensis-Liriodendron tulipifera-Fagus grandifolia) [39,55]. Sandstone outcrops forming ridges are characterized by oak-pine-hickory (Carya spp.) forest [55]. On ridgetops, dominant trees include pitch pine (P. rigida), shortleaf pine (P. echinata), Virginia pine (P. virginiana), chestnut oak (Q. prinus), and scarlet oak (Q. coccinea). Other associates include American basswood (Tilia americana var. heterophylla), sugar maple (A. saccharum), northern red oak (Q. rubra), white oak (Q. alba), yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava), and eastern hemlock [39].

Peregrine falcons inhabit 70- to 160-year-old, old-growth loblolly pine (P. taeda) stands with associated live oak (Q. virginiana) and laurel oak (Q. laurifolia) in maritime forests of South Carolina [84].

Peregrine falcons occupy the Florida sandhills region. Conifer types include longleaf pine-turkey oak (P. palustris-Q. laevis) and sand pine (P. clausa)-scrub oak associations. Scrub oak types may include Chapman oak (Q. chapmanii), myrtle oak (Q. myrtifolia), and sand live oak (Q. geminata) [112].

Eastern Canada: On Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, ridges, uplands, and well-drained slopes are dominated by lichens, mosses, and low shrubs including northern Labrador tea (Ledum palustre), mountain cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), and black crowberry (Empetrum nigrum). White arctic mountain heather (Cassiope tetragona) occurs in moist, low-lying areas and rock crevices. Heaths, entireleaf mountain-avens (Dryas integrifolia), sedges (Carex spp.), mountain heather (Cassiope spp.), and lichens are common on slopes and hillsides on Rankin Inlet ([115] cited in [45]).

The tundra of western Greenland is dominated by grayleaf willow (S. glauca) and dwarf birch (Betula nana) shrubs under 3 feet (1 m) in height, with associated crowberry (Empetrum spp.), Labrador tea (Ledum spp.), mountain heather, sedges, cottongrass (Eriophorum spp.), reedgrass (Calamagrostis spp.), fescue (Festuca spp.), and bluegrass (Poa spp.) [26,150]. In southern Greenland, habitat ranges from dense willow scrub to sparse vegetation including black crowberry, common juniper (J. communis), and scattered birch up to 26 feet (8 m) tall [67,68].

Mexico: In the Sierra Madre Oriental, plant communities surrounding cliffs utilized by peregrine falcons include southwestern white pine (P. strobiformis)-Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir-fir (Abies spp.) on ridges, dense pinyon-juniper forests, pinyon-juniper-yucca on hillsides, cornfields (Zea mays), fallow fields, and both young and mature paradise apple (Malus pumila) orchards [105]. In northern Sonora, a peregrine falcon was observed in a topographically complex area with patches of oak woodlands separated by desert grasslands or scrublands. Florida hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa), gumhead (Gymnosperma glutinosum), and sensitive plant dominated the area [70].
  • 10. Bednarz, Janes C.; Hayden, Timothy; Fischer, Timothy. 1990. The raptor and raven community of the Los Medanos Area in southeastern New Mexico: a unique and significant resource. In: Mitchell, Richard S.; Sheviak, Charles J.; Leopold, Donald J., eds. Ecosystem management: rare species and significant habitats: Proceedings of the 15th annual natural areas conference. Bulletin No. 471. Albany, NY: The University of the State of New York, New York State Museum: 92-101. [71076]
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  • 23. Buchanan, Joseph B. 1996. A comparison of behavior and success rates of merlins and peregrine falcons when hunting dunlins in two coastal habitats. Journal of Raptor Research. 30(2): 93–98. [70755]
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  • 180. Verner, Jared; Boss, Allan S., tech. coords. 1980. California wildlife and their habitats: western Sierra Nevada. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-37. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 439 p. [10237]
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  • 193. Willey, David W. 1996. Eyrie characteristics of peregrine falcons in the canyonlands of Utah. Utah Birds. 12(2): 17–23. [70872]
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  • 47. de Becker, Sally. 1988. Coastal scrub. In: Mayer, Kenneth E.; Laudenslayer, William F., Jr., eds. A guide to wildlife habitats of California. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Fish and Game: 108-109. Available online: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/whdab/cwhr/pdfs/CSC.pdf [2006, February 15]. [60615]
  • 59. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1981. Physical and biological analysis of Colorado peregrine nesting habitat. Colorado Division of Wildlife: Job Progress Report-- Endangered wildlife investigations. July 1, 1979 to February 28, 1981. [Denver, CO: Colorado Division of Wildlife]. Unpublished report on file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [70785]
  • 117. McAllister, C.; Beckert, H.; Abrams, C.; Bilyard, G.; Cadwell, K.; Friant, S.; Glantz, C.; Mazaika, R.; Miller, K. 1996. Survey of ecological resources at selected U.S. Department of Energy sites, [Online]. Oak Ridge, TN: U.S. Department of Energy (Producer). Available: http://homer.ornl.gov/oepa/guidance/risk/ecores.pdf [2004, January 21]. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [46457]
  • 176. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region. 1978. Idaho supplement to USDA Forest Service environmental statement: Roadless Area Review and Evaluation II (RARE II). [USDA-FS-WO FY 78-04-DE Leg]. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region (R4); Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region (R1). 77 p. [+ appendices]. [77630]
  • 185. Whitacre, David F. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, 1976. [Purchase Order No. 659-R3-76]. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 4; Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute Contribution 4. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 19 p. [71180]

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Preferred Habitat: Limiting habitat features

Factors that limit habitat suitability for peregrine falcons vary between locations. Primary factors may include limited access to prey, such as shorebirds and passerines (Passeriformes), and limited nest site availability [87,140,173]. Diverse communities of avian prey are attracted by large water sources [140,170]. Thus, peregrine falcons tend to inhabit areas near large bodies of water including wetlands, lakes, streams, and marine environments [140]. Coastal areas and islands where high winds, heavy fog, and low ambient temperatures are typical in summer may limit peregrine falcon populations in the Arctic [27]. In the desert Southwest, key habitat features include areas of high topographic relief and tall, expansive cliffs within 3 miles (5 km) of permanent or near-permanent surface water. Vegetation, precipitation, and availability of surface water appear to influence nest site suitability for peregrine falcons in Arizona [57]. Presumably, proximity to water in desert habitats promotes peregrine falcon hunting success. ([20,79], (Walk and Schmitt 1977 personal communication cited in [170])
  • 20. Bond, Richard M. 1946. The peregrine populations of western North America. The Condor. 48(3): 101–116. [70750]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 57. Ellis, David H. 1982. The peregrine falcon in Arizona: habitat utilization and management recommendations. Institute for Raptor Studies: Research Reports. No. 1. 24 p. [70782]
  • 79. Greiman, Harley L. 1975. Nesting observations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus annatum), Los Padres National Forest, California. Goleta, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District. 41 p. [19360]
  • 87. Herman, Margaret; Willard, E. Earl. 1978. Peregrine falcon and its habitat. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Forest System Cooperative Forestry, Forestry Research, Region 1. 23 p. [13730]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 170. Thelander, Carl G. 1977. The breeding status of peregrine falcons in California. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. 112 p. Thesis. [70712]
  • 173. Torres, John; Bissell, Steve; Craig, Gerald; Graul, Walter; Langlois David. 1978. Essential habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife in Colorado. Denver, CO: Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management Section. 84 p. [66642]

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Preferred Habitat: Elevation

The elevations of peregrine falcon eyries are largely based on local availability. Peregrine falcons nest from sea level in coastal areas to high mountain cliffs [59,130,170,173]. Peregrine falcons in northern Alaska do not appear to nest above 2,200 feet (670 m). Peregrine falcons may reach their altitudinal limit at 2,500 to 3,000 feet (800-900 m) in the Arctic [189]. Elevations of suitable habitat of a reintroduced population in Kentucky range 660 to 1,300 feet (200-400 m) [55]. In Arizona, nesting peregrine falcons occupy territories at elevations up to 9,000 feet (2,700 m) [57]. Mean elevation of eyries in Utah was 4,701 feet (1,433 m). Mean elevation of nesting cliffs in Utah was 4,813 feet (1,467 m) [77]. Nesting sites in Colorado have been recorded at 10,500 feet (3,200 m) [173]. However, most nesting cliffs in Colorado are located below 9,000 feet (2,700 m) ([59,173], Welch 2008 personal communication [181]). Eyrie elevations throughout California typically range from sea level to 9,000 feet (2,700 m) [170]. In Greenland, the mountainous regions range up to 3,300 feet (1,000 m) above sea level [26,67]. Peregrine falcons overwintering in Veracruz, Mexico, are found at elevations of 0 to >5,000 feet (1,500 m) [153]. The maximum recorded elevation of a peregrine falcon eyrie is an unconfirmed report of a nest at 13,000 feet (4,000 m) in California [170].
  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 55. Dzialak, Matthew Richard. 2003. Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus, reintroduction in cliff habitat in Kentucky. Kexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 219 p. Dissertation. [71016]
  • 57. Ellis, David H. 1982. The peregrine falcon in Arizona: habitat utilization and management recommendations. Institute for Raptor Studies: Research Reports. No. 1. 24 p. [70782]
  • 67. Falk, Knud; Moller, Soren. 1988. Status of the peregrine falcon in South Greenland: population density and reproduction. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 37-43. [69543]
  • 77. Grebence, Brandon L.; White, Clayton M. 1989. Physiographic characteristics of peregrine falcon nesting habitat along the Colorado River system in Utah. Great Basin Naturalist. 49(3): 408–418. [70793]
  • 130. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1977. Behavioral ecology of coastal peregrines (Falco peregrinus pealei). Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 490 p. Dissertation. [70743]
  • 153. Ruelas Inzunza, Ernesto; Hoffman, Stephen W.; Goodrich, Laurie J. 2005. Stopover ecology of neotropical migrants in central Veracruz, Mexico. In: Ralph, C. John; Rich, Terrell D., eds. Bird conservation implementation and integration in the Americas: proceedings of the 3rd international Partners in Flight conference--Vol. 2; 2002 March 20-24; Asilomar, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 657-672. [63459]
  • 170. Thelander, Carl G. 1977. The breeding status of peregrine falcons in California. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. 112 p. Thesis. [70712]
  • 173. Torres, John; Bissell, Steve; Craig, Gerald; Graul, Walter; Langlois David. 1978. Essential habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife in Colorado. Denver, CO: Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management Section. 84 p. [66642]
  • 189. White, Clayton M.; Cade, Tom J. 1971. Cliff-nesting raptors and ravens along the Colville River in arctic Alaska. Living Bird. 10: 107-150. [24513]
  • 59. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1981. Physical and biological analysis of Colorado peregrine nesting habitat. Colorado Division of Wildlife: Job Progress Report-- Endangered wildlife investigations. July 1, 1979 to February 28, 1981. [Denver, CO: Colorado Division of Wildlife]. Unpublished report on file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [70785]
  • 181. Welch, Michael. 2008. [Email to Peggy Luensmann]. October 6. Regarding fire observations at a peregrine falcon eyrie at Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Dinosaur National Monument. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77863]

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Peregrine falcons prefer open habitats, such as grasslands, tundra, and meadows. They are most common in tundra and coastal areas and rare in sub-tropical and tropical habitats. They nest on cliff faces and crevices. They have recently begun to colonize urban areas because tall buildings are suitable for nesting in this species, and because of the abundance of pigeons as prey items. They have been observed breeding as high as 3600 meters elevation in the Rocky Mountains of North America.

Range elevation: 3600 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra ; taiga ; desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Other Habitat Features: urban

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Source: Animal Diversity Web

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Depth range based on 18 specimens in 4 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 2 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): 15.249 - 15.876
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.239 - 0.733
  Salinity (PPS): 33.200 - 33.476
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.727 - 5.880
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.392 - 0.419
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.846 - 3.287

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): 15.249 - 15.876

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.239 - 0.733

Salinity (PPS): 33.200 - 33.476

Oxygen (ml/l): 5.727 - 5.880

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.392 - 0.419

Silicate (umol/l): 2.846 - 3.287
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Comments: Various open situations from tundra, moorlands, steppe, and seacoasts, especially where there are suitable nesting cliffs, to mountains, open forested regions, and human population centers (AOU 1983). When not breeding, occurs in areas where prey concentrate, including farmlands, marshes, lakeshores, river mouths, tidal flats, dunes and beaches, broad river valleys, cities, and airports.

Often nests on ledge or hole on face of rocky cliff or crag. River banks, tundra mounds, open bogs, large stick nests of other species, tree hollows, and man-made structures (e.g., ledges of city buildings) are used locally (Cade 1982). Nests typically are situated on ledges of vertical rocky cliffs, commonly with a sheltering overhang (Palmer 1988, Campbell et al 1990). Tundra populations nests typically on rocky cliffs, bluffs, or dirt banks. Ideal locations include undisturbed areas with a wide view, near water, and close to plentiful prey. Substitute man-made sites include tall buildings, bridges, rock quarries, and raised platforms.

See Grebence and White (1989) for information on nesting along the Colorado River system.

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Widely distributed with common habitats containing cliffs for nesting (rivers and coastal areas.) Historically utilizing cliff ledges for eyries (nests), Peregrines are known to also nest on ground (Tundra) and in trees. Reintroduced populations favor man-made structures. Open landscapes are used for foraging.


Reference

  • Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon, 2nd Edition. Princeton University Press. 454 pages. (ISBN 0 85661 060 7)
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Mary Hennen

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Migration

Life History: Migration

Timing of spring and fall migration is highly variable by location. According to a review of Indiana populations, spring migrations peak in April and May, while fall migrations peak in October [124]. Spring migration in central Alberta occurs from 20 April to 31 May. Spring migration of adult peregrine falcons in central Alberta peaks 8 May to 12 May, while immatures (under 2 years old) are primarily spotted from 15 May to 24 May [49]. Peregrine falcons that migrate to Florida typically arrive in September and leave in May [166]. Peregrine falcons overwintering in Brazil arrive from October to December and remain until March. Individuals observed in Brazil during late April are likely migrating from areas even farther south [1].

Peregrine falcons are considered solitary, long-distance migrants [45,160,187,190]. However, some fledgling siblings migrate together in fall, while other siblings migrate separately [27,116]. Many peregrine falcons spend the breeding season in North America and overwinter in South America [1]. Peregrine falcons banded in the Northern Territories are recovered throughout South America [197]. American and arctic peregrine falcons in arctic and subarctic regions of North America migrate as far south as Argentina and Chile, a distance of 7,500 miles (12,000 km) or more [4,5,85,156,186]. Some populations in both regions are year-round residents (review by [190]). In particular, populations at temperate latitudes and along coastal areas are largely resident or engage in short-distance winter movements [4,170,186]. For example, Peale's peregrine falcons are resident in coastal Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, with some short-distance movements through western Canada and the conterminous United States [5]. Some adults on coastal British Columbia do not appear to migrate [129], while others may migrate up to 120 miles (200 km) [156].

During migration, peregrine falcons concentrate along defined routes. These routes include coastal areas of prime habitat (especially barrier islands) along the Eastern Seaboard, Gulf Coast, and eastern Mexico [17,146,197]. Peregrine falcons that nest in the northern United States, eastern Canada, and Greenland often migrate to Central America or the Caribbean [40,67,85,116,146]. Males originating in western Greenland tend to migrate farther south (to Central and South America) than females from western Greenland (to eastern United States and Caribbean) [146]. Yates and others [197] found that peregrine falcons banded on the east coast and the Gulf of Mexico coast did not always follow distinct migratory patterns. Peregrine falcons from the Gulf Coast were recovered in Central and South America or islands in the Caribbean [197]. Lesser concentrations of migrating peregrine falcons follow shores of the Great Lakes, the western coast of the United States and Mexico, and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains [63,187]. In a review, White and others [190] suggested that migration routes used by adults may differ somewhat from immatures. Peregrine falcons banded throughout Canada and Alaska are recaptured in Texas, Iowa or other parts of the Midwest, Colorado [116,197], the eastern United States, and South America during migration [116,146,156,197]. Individuals banded in Wisconsin are recovered in other parts of the Midwest, Gulf Coast, Caribbean islands, Central America, and northern South America [197]. In 2 unusual cases, peregrine falcons originally banded in Arizona and Texas migrated to Japan. Their migrations may have been assisted by ocean vessels (review by [190]). More specific migration information is available in chapters 44 to 49 in Cade and others [31] and in a review by White and others [190].

Few studies of migratory behavior had been completed as of 2009. Cochran [40] tracked an immature male peregrine falcon during fall migration for 15 days. The immature male on average spent 58% of the day perching or eating; 6% of the day in low hunting flight; 7.5 % of the day in low migratory flight; and 28.5% of the day in circling or soaring migratory flight. He engaged in nearly continuous migratory flight for 5 hours on average. Hunting occurred in the early morning before migratory flight and again in the evening following migratory flight. Hunting activity  was rare during the migratory flight period [40].

  • 1. Albuquerque, Jorge L. B. 1984. The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in southern Brazil: aspects of winter ecology in an urban environment. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 23 p. Thesis. [70705]
  • 4. Ambrose, Robert E.; Ritchie, Robert J.; White, Clayton M.; Schempf, Philip F.; Swem, Ted; Dittrick, Robert. 1988. Changes in the status of peregrine falcon populations in Alaska. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 73-82. [69553]
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  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 129. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1970. Some aspects of the breeding behaviour of peregrine falcons on Langara Island, B.C. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 306 p. Thesis. [70710]
  • 160. Smith, Charles R.; Pence, Diane M.; O'Connor, Raymond J. 1993. Status of neotropical migratory birds in the Northeast: a preliminary assessment. In: Finch, Deborah M.; Stangel, Peter W., eds. Status and management of neotropical migratory birds: Proceedings; 1992 September 21-25; Estes Park, CO. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-229. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 172-188. [17614]
  • 170. Thelander, Carl G. 1977. The breeding status of peregrine falcons in California. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. 112 p. Thesis. [70712]
  • 187. White, Clayton M. 1969. Breeding Alaskan and arctic migrant populations of the peregrine. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: Their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 45-51. [75785]
  • 49. Dekker, Dick. 1984. Spring and fall migrations of peregrine falcons in central Alberta, 1979-1983, with comparisons to 1969-1978. Journal of Raptor Research. 18: 92–97. [70777]
  • 124. Mumford, Russell E.; Keller, Charles E. 1984. The birds of Indiana. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 376 p. [60761]
  • 146. Restani, Marco; Mattox, William G. 2000. Natal dispersal of peregrine falcons in Greenland. The Auk. 117: 500–504. [70843]
  • 156. Schmutz, Josef K.; Fyfe, Richard W.; Banasch, Ursula; Armbruster. 1991. Routes and timing of migration of falcons banded in Canada. The Wilson Bulletin. 103(1): 44–58. [70849]
  • 166. Stevenson, Henry M.; Anderson, Bruce H. 1994. The birdlife of Florida. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press. 892 p. [60776]
  • 186. White, Clayton M. 1968. Diagnosis and relationships of the North American tundra-inhabiting peregrine falcons. The Auk. 85(2): 179–191. [70869]
  • 197. Yates, Michael A.; Riddle, Kenton E.; Ward, F. Prescott. 1988. Recoveries of peregrine falcons migrating through the eastern and central United States, 1955-1985. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 471-483. [69586]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Populations nesting in northern latitudes are highly migratory; those nesting in northern maritime climates, at mid-latitudes, and in the Southern Hemisphere much less so (Cade 1982). Tundra breeders migrate farthest, bypassing those farther south; a few winter in Florida, some in Caribbean, perhaps some in Central America, most in southern South America (Palmer 1988). Breeders from central Alaska migrated through central North America and wintered in southern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean region, and South America (Britten et al. 1995). Two breeders from southern Utah migrated through western Mexico, and one continued to a wintering site in Nicaragua (Britten et al. 1995).

In the U.S., the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to South Carolina and the barrier islands of the Texas Gulf Coast are important feeding areas for long-distance migrants.

Arrives in northern breeding areas late April-early May; departure begins late August-early September (Johnson and Herter 1989). See Palmer (1988) for further information on timing of migration.

From Padre Island, Texas, a northbound migrant reached south-central Canada in four days, and a southbound migrant passed through Mexico and reached Guatemala in six days (Chavez-Ramirez et al. 1994).

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Dispersal

Female peregrine falcons typically disperse farther from area where they hatched to breeding sites than males [3,8,172].In the Midwest, females dispersed an average of 200 to 214 miles (320-345 km), while males dispersed an average of 108 to 109 miles (174-176 km) [172]. Females in New England dispersed from 39 to 485 miles (63-781 km) [169]. Barclay and Cade [8,9] reported that wild and hacked peregrine falcons dispersed from 0 to 2,613 miles (4,205 km) in the eastern United States. On average, wild and hacked females dispersed 220.3 miles (354.5 km), and wild and hacked males dispersed 193.0 miles (310.6 km). Only 7% of wild and hacked birds recovered in the eastern United States moved distances >500 miles (800 km) after independence [8]. At the Yukon River, Alaska, females dispersed an average of 75 miles (121 km), while males dispersed an average of 43 miles (69 km). All but 2 birds ultimately settled in the drainage where they hatched. The 2 females that did not return to their original drainage bred in drainages 87 to 130 miles (140-210 km) away [3]. At Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, males dispersed 3.7 to 8.7 miles (6.0-14.0 km), while 1 female dispersed 12.7 miles (20.5 km) from her original territory [42]. In western Greenland, mean dispersal distances were similar between the sexes, with females moving 16.8 miles (27.1 km) and males moving 17.5 miles (28.1 km). Males dispersed up to 40 miles (65 km), while most females dispersed up to 25 miles (40 km). The only long-distance dispersal in the study was a female that dispersed 429 miles (690 km) [146].

Peregrine falcons often return to breed near the area in which they fledged [45,169]. Young females visiting cliffs with a resident pair are occasionally fed by the adult male, suggesting that the young females are subadults raised on the same cliffs the previous year [80].

  • 3. Ambrose, Robert E.; Riddle, Kenton E. 1988. Population dispersal, turnover, and migration of Alaska peregrines. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 677-684. [69601]
  • 9. Barclay, John H.; Cade, Tom J. 1983. Restoration of the peregrine falcon in the eastern United States. Bird Conservation. 1: 3–37. [70746]
  • 42. Court, G. S.; Bradley, D. M.; Gates, C. C.; Boag, D. A. 1989. Turnover and recruitment in a tundra population of peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus. Ibis. 131: 487–496. [70774]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 80. Hagar, Joseph A. 1969. History of the Massachusetts peregrine falcon population, 1935-57. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 123-131. [75789]
  • 169. Telford, Elizabeth A. 1996. Peregrine falcons in the northeastern United States: sonagraphic analysis of the defense call, population turnover, and dispersal. Boise, ID: Boise State University. 68 p. Thesis. [70711]
  • 172. Tordoff, Harrison B.; Redig, Patrick T. 1997. Midwest peregrine falcon demography, 1982–1995. Journal of Raptor Research. 31(4): 339–346. [70864]
  • 146. Restani, Marco; Mattox, William G. 2000. Natal dispersal of peregrine falcons in Greenland. The Auk. 117: 500–504. [70843]
  • 8. Barclay, Jack. 1995. Patterns of dispersal and survival of eastern peregrine falcons derived from banding data. Santa Cruz, CA: Biosystems Ananlysis. Unpublished paper on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 24 p. [+ appendices]. [70745]

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The most common prey for peregrine falcons is other birds. In fact, other birds make up 77% to 99% of their diet! Birds eaten include Zenaida macroura, Columba livia, Charadriiformes, Anseriformes, Phasianidae, and smaller Passeriformes. The most common prey item is Columbidae.

Peregrine falcons will also eat small Squamata and Mammalia. Most frequent mammal prey are bats (Tadarida, Eptesicus, Myotis, Pipistrellus), followed by voles and lemmings (Arvicolinae), squirrels (Sciuridae), and rats (Rattus).

Peregrine falcons most frequently hunt from a perch with a high vantage point, such as a cliff or tall tree. They take flight once prey have been detected. They may also fly or hover to search for prey. In some areas, where they may have to rely on insects, lizards, or mammals for prey, peregrine falcons hunt on foot on the ground.

Peregrine falcons are most successful in capturing prey if they can swoop down from great heights. Peregrine falcons capture their prey with their talons, but they generally kill with their beak by severing the backbone. The peregrine then carries the prey back to an eating perch. On the perch, the peregrine will pluck and consumed the prey, or store it away (cache it) for later use. There is an exception to this behavior. Small prey (such as bats) may be eaten in flight.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; fish; insects

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

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Diet

More info for the terms: selection, tree

Peregrine falcons are generalists and show a tendency to capture virtually any small to medium-sized prey available [26,157,170]. In North America, at least 429 bird species, 10 bat species, 13 other mammal species, 4 fish (Osteichthyes) species, and insects (mainly Orthoptera and Odonata) had been cited as peregrine falcon prey as of 2002. Worldwide, the number of avian prey species may exceed 2,000 (review by [190]). Prey ranges in size from small passerines, shrews (Soricidae), and voles (Arvicolinae) to large waterfowl, owls, turkey vultures, and snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) [33,34,59]. While avian prey dominate the peregrine falcon's diet throughout its range, the proportion of other types of prey is highly variable. In a review, Sherrod [157] determined that 76.7% to 100% of the peregrine falcon diet consisted of small- to medium-sized birds, while small- to medium-sized mammals made up to 6.9% of their diets. Observations near an eyrie on the Los Padres National Forest, California, show that the peregrine falcon diet in that area was 76% birds and 24% mammals [79]. On average, the peregrine falcon diet consists of 76.7% birds, 3.4% mammals, and 19.8% invertebrates (review by [162]).

In general, passerines, shorebirds, and waterfowl are the most frequently hunted prey [144,190]. However, any bird flying above a forest canopy is potential prey for a peregrine falcon [27]. Shorebirds are common prey near aquatic habitats [140,190]. Mammals captured by peregrine falcons include shrews, bats (Tadaridae and Vespertilionidae), arctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii), voles (Microtus spp. and Clethrionomys spp.), and hares (Lagomorpha) (review by [157]). Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) can be important prey where large bat populations congregate at roosting caves [1,109,159,164]. Unusual prey include fox (Vulpes spp.) kits, frogs (Anura), and fish [144]. Nestlings of other bird species are taken as prey [150]. Large birds of prey are not typically hunted [27]. However, any predatory birds killed during territorial conflicts may be eaten [27,144]. Prey is typically 2 to 18 ounces (50-500 g) in mass. The larger size of females allows them to capture larger prey than males. Females capture and carry prey weighing up to 49 ounces (1,400 g) [144]. Large prey, including large waterfowl, are generally eaten on the spot. Smaller waterfowl are usually carried to a feeding perch or tree before being consumed [51].

Prey is usually selected in relation to availability [144]. Thus, peregrine falcon diets are highly variable by region. Major foods in urban areas include many native and nonnative passerines such as northern flickers (Colaptes auratus), blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), American robins (Turdus migratorius), mourning doves (Zenaida macroura), rock pigeons (Columba livia), and European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), as well as riparian birds if the city is near a major water source [1,33,72,131,190]. In rural Kentucky, peregrine falcons primarily hunt eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna), rock pigeons, and European starlings [39]. Primary prey in New Mexico includes Steller's jays (C. stelleri), band-tailed pigeons (Patagioenas fasciata), northern flickers, spotted towhees (Pipilo maculatus), sparrows (Emberizidae), bats, and cliff chipmunks (Tamias dorsalis) [69]. Mourning doves, broad-tailed hummingbirds (Selasphorus platycercus), Mexican jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina), bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus), Bewick's wrens (Thryomanes bewickii), great-tailed grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus), and spotted towhees are potential prey in the Sierra Madre Oriental [105].

At northern latitudes, prey availability may be more limited [26,82,150]. Prey in Alaska includes waterfowl, shorebirds, upland game birds (Galliformes), small to medium-sized passerines, dusky shrews (Sorex monticolus), voles, arctic ground squirrels, and snowshoe hares [27]. Along the Pacific coast of North America, peregrine falcons prey on marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus), ancient murrelets (Synthliboramphus antiquus), Cassin's auklets (Ptychoramphus aleuticus), fork-tailed storm-petrels (Oceanodroma furcata), and Leach's storm-petrel (O. leucorhoa) [11,141]. In British Columbia, prey remains found below a nest in a Sitka spruce included rhinoceros auklets (Cerorhinca monocerata), Cassin's auklets, pigeon guillemots (Cepphus columba), fork-tailed storm-petrels, and marbled murrelets [38]. Some seabird colonies on the British Columbia coast were 60 miles (100 km) from the nest [38]. Blue jays, blackbirds (Icteridae), and swallows (Hirundinidae) were common prey species in southern Quebec [15]. In Greenland, prey is largely limited to snow buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis), northern wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe), Lapland longspurs (Calcarius lapponicus), common redpolls (Acanthis flammea), rock ptarmigans (Lagopus muta), and red-necked phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) [26,82,150].

Availability and vulnerability of certain species may change throughout the year (review by [190]); both contribute to diet selection. A detailed study of seasonal diet changes was completed in Nunavut. At Rankin Inlet, peregrine falcons arrive in spring before most migratory prey. At this time, they rely heavily on resident rock ptarmigans and snow buntings. Horned larks, Lapland longspurs, and water pipits are also important early in the breeding season. Shorebirds and waterfowl became important food items after they arrive at Rankin Inlet. Due to their large size, waterfowl only became common prey after August, when females finish brooding young and are able to hunt [45]. The male does most of the hunting during incubation [144,174]. Arctic ground squirrels, collared lemmings (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus), and brown lemmings (Lemmus sibiricus) were occasionally recorded as prey throughout the breeding season [45]. Peregrine falcon breeding success increased in Rankin Inlet in years with an abundance of arctic ground squirrels, collared lemmings, and brown lemmings [44].

Detailed summaries of peregrine falcon prey by region are available in these sources: ([189], reviews by [157,190]).

  • 1. Albuquerque, Jorge L. B. 1984. The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in southern Brazil: aspects of winter ecology in an urban environment. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 23 p. Thesis. [70705]
  • 11. Beebe, Frank L. 1960. The marine peregrines of the northwest Pacific coast. The Condor. 62(3): 145-189. [76976]
  • 15. Bird, David M.; Aubry, Yves. 1982. Reproductive and hunting behavior in peregrine falcons, Falco peregrinus, in southern Quebec. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 96(2): 167–171. [70748]
  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 33. Cade, Tom J.; Martell, Mark; Redig, Patrick; Septon, Greg; Tordoff, Harrison. 1996. Peregrine falcons in urban North America. In: Bird, David M.; Varland, Daniel E.; Negro, Juan Jose, eds. Raptors in human landscapes: Adaptations to built and cultivated environments. San Diego, CA: Academic Press: 3-13. [71307]
  • 34. Cade, Tom J.; White, Clayton M.; Haugh, John R. 1968. Peregrines and pesticides in Alaska. The Condor. 70: 170–178. [70764]
  • 38. Campbell, R. Wayne; Paul, Marilyn A.; Rodway, Michael S.; Carter, Harry R. 1977. Tree-nesting peregrine falcons in British Columbia. The Condor. 79: 500–501. [70766]
  • 39. Carter, Kristina Marie. 2003. Food habits, reproductive status, habitat use, and behavior of peregrine falcon in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 99 p. Thesis. [71017]
  • 44. Court, Gordon S.; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. Natural history of the peregrine falcon in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories. Arctic. 41(1): 17–30. [70775]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 51. Dekker, Dick. 1995. Prey capture by peregrine falcons wintering on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Journal of Raptor Research. 29(1): 26–29. [70779]
  • 69. Falxa, Gary A. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Gila National Forest. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 3; Chihuahuan Desert Reseach Institute Contribution 3. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 31 p. [71179]
  • 72. Frank, Saul. 1994. City peregrines: A ten-year saga of New York City falcons. Blaine, WA: Hancock House. 320 p. [70794]
  • 79. Greiman, Harley L. 1975. Nesting observations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus annatum), Los Padres National Forest, California. Goleta, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District. 41 p. [19360]
  • 82. Harris, James T.; Clement, David M. 1975. Greenland peregrines at their eyries: A behavioral study of the peregrine falcon. Meddelelser om Gronland. 205(3). Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel. 28 p. [79571]
  • 105. Lanning, Dirk V.; Lawson, Peter W.; Hunt, W. Grainger. 1977. Ecology of the peregrine falcon in northeastern Mexico. In: Swanson, Winfield, ed. Research reports--National Geographic Society. 18: 377-388. [79572]
  • 109. Lee, Ya-Fu; Kuo, Yen-Min. 2001. Predation on Mexican free-tailed bats by peregrine falcons and red-tailed hawks. Journal of Raptor Research. 35(2): 115–123. [70815]
  • 131. Nero, Robert W. 2000. The peregrine falcon and the sora. Blue Jay. 58(3): 125-127. [60934]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 141. Raphael, Martin G.; Mack, Diane Evans; Marzluff, John M.; Luginbuhl, John M. 2002. Effects of forest fragmentation on populations of the marbled murrelet. Studies in Avian Biology. 25: 221-235. [50455]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 150. Rosenfield, Robert N.; Schneider, James W.; Papp, Joseph M.; Seegar, William S. 1995. Prey of peregrine falcons breeding in West Greenland. The Condor. 97: 763–770. [70847]
  • 157. Sherrod, S. K. 1978. Diets of North American Falconiformes. Raptor Research. 12(3): 49–121. [70852]
  • 159. Skutch, Alexander, Jr. 1951. Aerial feeding of duck hawk, Falco peregrinus. The Auk. 68: 372–373. [70853]
  • 162. Snyder, Noel F. R.; Wiley, James W. 1976. Sexual size dimorphism in hawks and owls of North America. Ornithological Monographs. No. 20. Gainesville, FL: American Ornithologists' Union. 96 p. [24770]
  • 164. Stager, Kenneth E. 1941. A group of bat-eating duck hawks. The Condor. 43: 137-139. [70860]
  • 170. Thelander, Carl G. 1977. The breeding status of peregrine falcons in California. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. 112 p. Thesis. [70712]
  • 174. Treleaven, R. B. 1980. High and low intensity hunting in raptors. Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie. 54: 339-345. [77468]
  • 189. White, Clayton M.; Cade, Tom J. 1971. Cliff-nesting raptors and ravens along the Colville River in arctic Alaska. Living Bird. 10: 107-150. [24513]
  • 59. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1981. Physical and biological analysis of Colorado peregrine nesting habitat. Colorado Division of Wildlife: Job Progress Report-- Endangered wildlife investigations. July 1, 1979 to February 28, 1981. [Denver, CO: Colorado Division of Wildlife]. Unpublished report on file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [70785]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Food Habits

Peregrine falcons prey almost exclusively on birds, which make up 77 to 99% of prey items. The most important set of prey, by biomass, is Columbidae. Birds eaten include mourning doves, pigeons, shorebirds, waterfowl, ptarmigan, grouse, and relatives, and smaller songbirds. They will also eat small reptiles and mammals. Most frequent mammal prey are bats (Tadarida, Eptesicus, Myotis, Pipistrellus), followed by arvicoline rodents (Arvicolinae), squirrels (Sciuridae), and rats (Rattus).

Peregrine falcons most frequently hunt from a perch with a high vantage point, such as a cliff or tall tree. They take flight once prey have been detected. They may also fly or hover to search for prey. In some areas, where they may have to rely on insects, lizards, or mammals for prey, peregrine falcons hunt on foot on the ground.

Peregrine falcons are most successful in capturing prey if they have more height from which to initiate a stoop onto a prey animal. Although peregrine falcons capture their prey with their talons, they generally kill with their beak by severing the cervical vertebrae. Prey are then typically carried to an eating perch, where they are plucked and consumed, or cached for later use. Small prey (such as bats) may be eaten in flight.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; fish; insects

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

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Comments: Feeds primarily on birds (medium-size passerines up to small waterfowl); rarely or locally, small mammals (e.g., bats, lemmings), lizards, fishes, and insects (by young birds) may be taken. Prey pursuit initiated from perch or while soaring. May hunt up to several km from nest site (Skaggs et al. 1988). See Rosenfield et al. (1995) for information on food habits in Greenland.

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Because they are high level predators, peregrine falcons play an important role in regulating populations of their prey, particularly pigeons and doves (Columbidae), ptarmigan (Lagopus), and ducks (Anatidae)

Peregrine falcons are susceptible to many parasites and diseases. External parasites include chewing lice (Phthiraptera), fleas (Ceratophyllus_garei), and flies (Icosta_nigra and Ornithoctona_erythrocephala). Internal parasites include strigeid trematodes (Strigeidae), nematodes (Serratospiculum_amaculata), and tapeworms.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Ornithoctona_erythrocephala
  • Icosta_nigra
  • Ceratophyllus_garei
  • Nosopon_lucidum
  • Laemobothrion_tinnunculus
  • Degeeriella_rufa
  • Colpocephalum_zerafae
  • Plasmodium_relictum
  • Serratospiculum_amaculata
  • Strigeidae

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Predation

Peregrine falcons are birds of prey. Because of this, they are near the top of the food chain. However, they are not completely free from predators. Adults may be killed by other large birds of prey, such as great horned owls (Bubo_virginianus), gyrfalcons (Falco_rusticolus) and golden eagles (Aquila_chrysaetos). Nestlings and fledglings may be taken by mammalian predators such as cats (Felis), bears (Ursus), wolverines (Gulo_gulo), or foxes (Vulpes). This happens more often in nests that are closer to the ground. Humans sometimes take eggs to raise for falconry.

Peregrine falcons are aggressive in defense of their nests. They will attack birds and mammals that are much larger than themselves when defending their nest.

Known Predators:

  • great horned owls (Bubo_virginianus)
  • golden eagles (Aquila_chrysaetos)
  • gyrfalcons (Falco_rusticolus)
  • bears (Ursus)
  • cats (Felis)
  • foxes (Vulpes)
  • wolverines (Gulo_gulo)

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Predators

After fledging, peregrine falcons are largely safe from predation [132]. Adults are typically only killed by large avian predators such as eagles, gyrfalcons, and great horned owls (review by [190]). Peregrine falcons are occasionally killed during territorial fights [45]. Rare accounts of remains of adult peregrine falcons at eyries have been noted (Peters 1993 personal communication, Morgan 1993 personal communication, and Bell 1993 personal communication cited in [144]).

Predators of young peregrine falcons include adult peregrine falcons, great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, and osprey [8,190]. Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and gray wolf (Canis lupus) predation has been observed in Alaska [27]. Bears (Ursus spp.), wolves (Canis spp.), foxes (Vulpes and Urocyon spp.), wolverines (Gulo gulo), short-tailed weasels (Mustela erminea), wild cats (Lynx spp.), ground squirrels, and golden eagles may prey on peregrine falcon eggs and young nestlings at easily accessible nests [27,190]. Northern raccoon (Procyon lotor) predation is documented rarely [80,171]. Peregrine falcons nesting on low cliffs or the ground are more aggressive towards carnivorous mammals than those nesting on high cliffs (review by [190]). Peregrine falcons may stoop at potential predators to scare them off [79]. High cliffs in inland western Greenland protect young peregrine falcons from predation by arctic foxes (V. lagopus) and possibly polar bears (U. maritimus) [26]. Great horned owls [9,171], golden eagles, and other peregrine falcons [171] are the principal predators during reintroductions ([16] cited in a review by [190]).

Male peregrine falcons may attack their own fledglings. Injuries suffered by the fledglings during these attacks may be fatal [183]. Instances of peregrine falcons eating their offspring apparently occurred after the nestlings died from an unrelated cause (Mearns 1993 personal communication, Horne 1993 personal communication, and Treleaven 1993 personal communication cited by [144]).

  • 9. Barclay, John H.; Cade, Tom J. 1983. Restoration of the peregrine falcon in the eastern United States. Bird Conservation. 1: 3–37. [70746]
  • 16. Bird, David M.; Varland, Daniel E.; Negro, Juan Jose, eds. 1996. Raptors in human landscapes: Adaptation to built and cultivated environments. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. 396 p. [77873]
  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 79. Greiman, Harley L. 1975. Nesting observations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus annatum), Los Padres National Forest, California. Goleta, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District. 41 p. [19360]
  • 80. Hagar, Joseph A. 1969. History of the Massachusetts peregrine falcon population, 1935-57. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 123-131. [75789]
  • 132. Newton, Ian. 1988. Population regulation in peregrines: an overview. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 761-770. [69607]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 183. Wendt, Annie M.; Septon, Greg A. 1991. Notes on a successful nesting by a pair of yearling peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus). Journal of Raptor Research. 25(1): 21–22. [70867]
  • 8. Barclay, Jack. 1995. Patterns of dispersal and survival of eastern peregrine falcons derived from banding data. Santa Cruz, CA: Biosystems Ananlysis. Unpublished paper on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 24 p. [+ appendices]. [70745]
  • 171. Tordoff, Harrison B.; Martell, Mark S.; Redig, Patrick T.; Solensky, Matthew J. 2000. Midwest peregrine falcon restoration, 2000 report, [Online]. In: Midwest Peregrine Society--Annual reports. St. Paul, MN: Midwest Peregrine Society (Producer). Available: http://www.midwestperegrine.org/ [2010, April 26]. [70863]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Ecosystem Roles

Because they are high level predators, peregrine falcons play an important role in regulating populations of their prey, particularly pigeons and doves (Columbidae), ptarmigan (Lagopus), and ducks (Anatidae)

Peregrine falcons harbor, and are susceptible to, a number of parasites and diseases, including avian pox (Poxvirus avium), Newcastle disease, herpes virus, mycotic infections, strigeid trematodes (Strigeidae), nematodes (Serratospiculum amaculata), malaria (Plasmodium relictum), tapeworms, and bacterial infections. Ectoparasites include chewing lice (Phthiraptera, including Colpocephalum zerafae, Degeeriella rufa, Laemobothrion tinnunculus, and Nosopon lucidum), fleas (Ceratophyllus garei), and flies (Icosta nigra and Ornithoctona erythrocephala).

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Predation

Though peregrine falcons, like other birds of prey, are considered to be near the top of the food chain, they are not completely free from predators. Adults may be killed by other, large birds of prey, such as great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). Nestlings and fledglings may be taken by mammalian predators such as cats (Felis), bears (Ursus), wolverines (Gulo gulo), or foxes (Vulpes), particularly in nests that are closer to the ground. Humans take eggs to raise for falconry.

Peregrine falcons are aggressive in defense of their nests. They will attack birds and mammals that are much larger than themselves when defending their nest.

Known Predators:

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Known prey organisms

  • H. W. Koepcke and M. Koepcke, Sobre el proceso de transformacion de la materia organica en las playas arenosas marinas del Peru. Publ. Univ. Nac. Mayer San Marcos, Zoologie Serie A, No. 8, from p. 24 (1952).
  • V. I. Osmolovskaya, Geographical distribution of raptors in Kazakhstan plains and their importance for pest control, Tr. Acad. Sci. USSR Inst. Geogr. 41:5-77 (1948). (In Russian.)
  • T. Dunaeva and V. Kucheruk, Material on the ecology of the terrestrial vertebrates of the tundra of south Yamal, Bull. Soc. Nat. Moscou (N.S., Zool. Sect.) 4(19):1-80 (1941).
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 16, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org. http://www.animaldiversity.org
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: See GABUNDCOM.

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Global Abundance

10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Rangewide estimates not available. Subspecies CALIDUS: breeding poulation across northern Eurasia has been estimated at 3652 territorial pairs (95% confidence interval 2282 to 5018 pairs) (Quinn and Kokorev 2000). North America: In the early 1990s, the North American population totaled several thousand breeding pairs, including about 700 known territorial pairs in the coterminous U.S. (estimated total about 890 pairs). Subspecies PEALEI: An estimated 600 breeding pairs are believed to occur in Alaska (Ambrose et al. 1988) and an additional 100 pairs in British Columbia (Munro 1988). Subspecies ANATUM: In 1998, there were at least 193 breeding pairs in the eastern United States, 32 in the midwest, 535 in the western region, and 269 in the Pacific coast region (USFWS 1999). In Alaska, there are a minimum of 301 breeding pairs (USFWS 1999). In Canada, 319 breeding pairs were located in 1995 (USFWS 1999). Mexico has not been surveyed adequately, but at least 70 nest sites were occupied there in the late 1980s and early 1990s (USFWS 1999). Subspecies TUNDRIUS: In Greenland, there were approximately 1000-2000 breeding pairs in the early 1990s (Mattox, in USFWS 1993). Alaskan nesting population was estimated at 200-250 pairs in the early 1990s. Additional pairs in the Northwest Territories and elsewhere bring the total up to probably several thousand breeding pairs.

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: severity, tree

In a review, Bull and Wales [25] determined that the primary impact of disturbance on peregrine falcons depends on how disturbance affects their prey. Peregrine falcons primarily nest on cliffs or man-made structures in relatively open habitat, so the direct effect of fire on their nesting habitat is likely minimal. Indirectly, tree mortality associated with fire, insects, and disease may affect the peregrine falcon's prey base [25]. To protect and promote the diversity of avian prey, maintaining riparian and aquatic habitat near active eyries may benefit the peregrine falcon.

Human disturbance at nest sites can be detrimental to reproductive success (see Management Considerations). Thus, limiting disturbance near active nest sites may promote peregrine falcon populations. The response of peregrine falcons toward fire and fire-fighting activities is mixed. In Arizona and California, guidelines suggest limiting fire activity near an active eyrie until nestlings have fledged [36,57]. However, detrimental effects from fire and fire-fighting activities were not observed in Colorado (Welch 2008 personal communication [181]). These observations suggest that the response of breeding peregrine falcons to fire activity near the eyrie may be influenced by the severity of disturbance and the reproductive stage of the pair.

Peregrine falcons occur in virtually every habitat in North America, including metropolitan areas. Vegetative community and structure appear to have little influence on habitat suitability for nesting or foraging (see Preferred Habitat). However, prey abundance and availability are influenced by the effects of fire and other disturbances on habitat. Maintaining a landscape of mixed habitat could promote prey diversity, thereby benefiting peregrine falcons.
  • 25. Bull, Evelyn L.; Wales, Barbara C. 2001. Effects of disturbance on birds of conservation concern in eastern Oregon and Washington. Northwest Science. 75: 166-173. [43156]
  • 57. Ellis, David H. 1982. The peregrine falcon in Arizona: habitat utilization and management recommendations. Institute for Raptor Studies: Research Reports. No. 1. 24 p. [70782]
  • 36. California Department of Forestry. 1982. Chaparral management program. Final environmental impact report. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Forestry. 152 p. [+ appendices]. [71302]
  • 181. Welch, Michael. 2008. [Email to Peggy Luensmann]. October 6. Regarding fire observations at a peregrine falcon eyrie at Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Dinosaur National Monument. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77863]

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Fire Regimes

More info for the term: fire regime

See the Expanded Fire Regime Table for information on FIRE REGIMES of vegetation communities in which peregrine falcons may occur.

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Cover Requirements: Associated species

More info for the terms: cover, fire severity, long-term effects, prescribed fire, severity, shrubs

Indirect effects of fire on prey populations influences the long-term effects of fire on peregrine falcons [71]. Because fire can promote an increase in vegetation and bird diversity, a "let-burn" policy is recommended by Whitacre [185]. Mosaic burn patterns observed in Yellowstone National Park after the 1988 fire season resulted in an increase in vegetative diversity, which promotes bird diversity and abundance [178]. In California, avian prey could increase following a fire if their food supply increases [36]. Increases in avian prey species after fire may benefit peregrine falcons in the area.

Immediately following a prescribed fire in an oak/ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.) chaparral community in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills, avian and mammalian prey became more vulnerable to predation due to the lack of cover. Increased prey vulnerability was advantageous to birds of prey in the area. These effects declined within 3 postfire years [107].

Bird and mammal diversity decreases in mature chaparral (≥10 years) [113]. Therefore, frequent fires in chaparral habitats would likely promote a diverse prey base, which could benefit peregrine falcons. However, spring and summer fires in chaparral and surrounding communities may destroy bird nests on the ground or in shrubs. Fires during this time could reduce the potential prey availability for peregrine falcons. A mosaic of unburned patches and small burned areas surrounded by mature chaparral may support a large variety of bird species [36].

In Southwest desert ecosystems, wildfires and prescribed fires benefit potential prey species--------such as scaled quail (Callipepla squamata), horned larks, white-winged doves (Z. asiatica), mourning doves, broad-tailed hummingbirds, Lewis's woodpeckers (Melanerpes lewis), ladder-backed woodpeckers (Picoides scalaris), hairy woodpeckers (P. villosus), northern flickers, western wood-pewees (Contopus sordidulus), Steller's jays, house wrens (Troglodytes aedon), western bluebirds (Sialia mexicana), American robins, western tanagers (Piranga ludoviciana), green-tailed towhees (P. chlorurus), spotted towhees, chipping sparrows (Spizella passerinea), vesper sparrows (Pooecetes gramineus), lark sparrows (Chondestes grammacus), savannah sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis), white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys), eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna), western meadowlarks (S. neglecta), and house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus)------for 1 to 20 postfire years. Other bird species have neutral or negative responses to fire [19]. Twenty-five years after fire, potential prey populations in an area of New Mexico are highly diverse and abundant [69]. Due to their varied diet, peregrine falcons in the Southwest may benefit from a landscape mosaic that maximizes prey availability near their eyries.

Responses of many avian species may be mixed, depending on fire severity. Cavity-nesting birds in the Intermountain West, such as woodpeckers (Picinae), western wood-pewees, and bluebirds (Sialia spp.), generally respond favorably to fire in ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, fir-spruce, and mixed-conifer forests. On the other hand, gleaners, such as nuthatches (Sitta spp.), vireos (Vireo spp.), and chickadees (Poecile spp.), generally have negative postfire responses or maintain low population densities after fire in these habitats [154].

  • 69. Falxa, Gary A. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Gila National Forest. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 3; Chihuahuan Desert Reseach Institute Contribution 3. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 31 p. [71179]
  • 113. Longhurst, William M. 1978. Responses of bird and mammal populations to fire in chaparral. California Agriculture. 32(10): 9-12. [7639]
  • 19. Bock, Carl E.; Block, William M. 2005. Fire and birds in the southwestern United States. In: Saab, Victoria A.; Powell, Hugh D. W., eds. Fire and avian ecology in North America. Studies in Avian Biology No. 30. Ephrata, PA: Cooper Ornithological Society: 14-32. [61608]
  • 71. Fowler, Bill; Seitz, Gary; McLean, Scott; Thatcher, Jay; Malchow, Dick; Koepp, Fritz; Smith, Howard; Bouts, Dick. 1979. Fortymile Interagency Fire Management Plan: Environmental Assessment-- Final. AK-020-EA9-153. Fairbanks, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Fairbanks District Office. 45 p. [21230]
  • 107. Lawrence, George E. 1966. Ecology of vertebrate animals in relation to chaparral fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Ecology. 47(2): 278-291. [147]
  • 178. U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Yellowstone National Park. 1991. Yellowstone National Park fire management plan. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Yellowstone National Park. 116 p. Draft. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [15370]
  • 154. Saab, Victoria A.; Powell, Hugh D. W.; Kotliar, Natasha B.; Newlon, Karen R. 2005. Variation in FIRE REGIMES of the Rocky Mountains: implications for avian communities and fire management. In: Saab, Victoria A.; Powell, Hugh D. W., eds. Fire and avian ecology in North America. Studies in Avian Biology No. 30. Ephrata, PA: Cooper Ornithological Society: 76-96. [65146]
  • 36. California Department of Forestry. 1982. Chaparral management program. Final environmental impact report. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Forestry. 152 p. [+ appendices]. [71302]
  • 185. Whitacre, David F. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, 1976. [Purchase Order No. 659-R3-76]. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 4; Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute Contribution 4. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 19 p. [71180]

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Direct Effects of Fire

More info for the terms: prescribed fire, wildfire

Due to their high mobility, fire-related mortality of adult raptors is likely low. Nestling mortality is potentially higher because nestlings are unable to flee approaching fire [110]. However, since peregrine falcons nest on cliff faces, rock outcrops, and similar sites, the potential for damage to the nesting site or nestling mortality is low but possible [71] if vegetation on the nest ledge catches fire. Fire may threaten peregrine falcon nests at ground level amongst dense vegetation [144].

Spring fires may disturb peregrine falcon nesting [36]. Fire fighting activities, such as helitack operations, vehicles, construction of fire breaks, fire crew camps, and retardant drops, could disturb peregrine falcons during the nesting season and affect nesting success [71,123]. However, negative effects of fire fighting activity were not observed at an eyrie in Colorado (Welch 2008 personal communication [181]). In Arizona, management recommendations include restricting prescribed fire within 1 mile (0.6 km) of cliffs with occupied eyries and within 2 miles (3 km) from the base of cliffs with occupied eyries [57]. In cliff habitats, spring burning (mid-April to late June) may disturb nestlings if the fires are adjacent to occupied cliffs [36].

Observations of an eyrie in Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado, showed that peregrine falcons can successfully fledge even if a wildfire is active on top of the cliff (see photo above). The Bear Fire, which started on 27 June 2002 and was contained on or about 7 July 2002, burned the area immediately surrounding the eyrie. Three young successfully fledged while the fire was still active. Fire crews and helicopters in the immediate vicinity seemed to have no adverse effects on the reproductive habits of the parents. Helmet sketches (drawings of the head coloration for each bird) indicate that this was the same pair that occupied the territory the previous year. The territory had been occupied regularly by peregrine falcon pairs that successfully fledged young without failure since at least 1997 (Welch 2008 personal communication [181]).

Peregrine falcons in California have been observed feeding in burned areas zero to >10 years after a fire [36]. Similarly, peregrine falcons were observed hovering and flying over smoking meadows along fire perimeters during the 1988 wildfires in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming [76].

  • 57. Ellis, David H. 1982. The peregrine falcon in Arizona: habitat utilization and management recommendations. Institute for Raptor Studies: Research Reports. No. 1. 24 p. [70782]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 71. Fowler, Bill; Seitz, Gary; McLean, Scott; Thatcher, Jay; Malchow, Dick; Koepp, Fritz; Smith, Howard; Bouts, Dick. 1979. Fortymile Interagency Fire Management Plan: Environmental Assessment-- Final. AK-020-EA9-153. Fairbanks, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Fairbanks District Office. 45 p. [21230]
  • 76. Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee. 1988. Greater Yellowstone Area fire situation, 1988. Final report. Billings, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Custer National Forest. 207 p. [38771]
  • 110. Lehman, Robert N.; Allendorf, John W. 1989. The effects of fire, fire exclusion and fire management on raptor habitats in the western United States. In: Pendleton, B. G., ed. Proceedings of the western raptor management symposium and workshop; 1987 October 26-28; Boise, ID. Scientific and Technical Series No. 12. Washington, DC: National Wildlife Federation: 236-244. [22324]
  • 123. Mitchell, Jerry M. 1984. Fire Management Action Plan: Zion National Park, Utah. Record of Decision. Salt Lake City, UT: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Unpublished report on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 73 p. [17278]
  • 36. California Department of Forestry. 1982. Chaparral management program. Final environmental impact report. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Forestry. 152 p. [+ appendices]. [71302]
  • 181. Welch, Michael. 2008. [Email to Peggy Luensmann]. October 6. Regarding fire observations at a peregrine falcon eyrie at Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Dinosaur National Monument. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77863]

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Cover Requirements: Nest competition

More info for the term: competition

In arctic Alaska, multiple pairs of peregrine falcons nested on the same cliff when the cliff was at least 1.75 miles (2.8 km) long [189]. Mean minimum distance between eyries in Greenland was 4.8 miles (7.7 km) [116]. In Ungava Bay, Quebec, peregrine falcon pairs did not nest on adjacent cliffs. Typically, there was at least one vacant cliff next to or across from a nesting pair [17]. At the beginning of the breeding season, resident peregrine falcons attempt to drive away competitors that arrive at a cliff first [45].

Rough-legged hawks, gyrfalcons, and common ravens utilize similar nesting sites and may compete with peregrine falcons for this resource [189,199]. Some peregrine falcon nest sites were previously used by gyrfalcons [116]. In arctic Alaska, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, rough-legged hawks, and common ravens may concurrently nest on cliffs ranging 0.75 to 5.0 miles (1.2-8.0 km) in length [189], suggesting that competition for nesting sites in the area was low. A cliff several hundred meters long in Ungava Bay, Quebec, housed successful nests of peregrine falcons, rough-legged hawks, and common ravens. Peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons also shared cliffs in Ungava Bay [17]. Peregrine falcons nesting along the Colville River, Alaska, incubated 2 rough-legged hawk eggs in addition to their own. Presumably, the peregrine falcons usurped the rough-legged hawks after egg laying began [199].

  • 17. Bird, David M.; Weaver, James D. 1988. Peregrine falcon populations in Ungava Bay, Quebec, 1980-1985. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 45-49. [69544]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 189. White, Clayton M.; Cade, Tom J. 1971. Cliff-nesting raptors and ravens along the Colville River in arctic Alaska. Living Bird. 10: 107-150. [24513]
  • 199. Zarn, Mark. 1975. Rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus sanctijohannis). Habitat management Series for Unique or Endangered Species: Report No. 14. Technical Note T-N-270. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 23 p. [24516]

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Cover Requirements: Alternate nest and roost sites

More info for the terms: tree, tundra

Although peregrine falcons primarily nest on cliff ledges (review by [190]), nesting in trees, on the ground, or on man-made structures is common [27]. The use of old or abandoned stick nests from other species, including abandoned common raven nests on electric pylons, transmission towers, stone quarries and silos; osprey and cormorant nests on channel buoys; bald eagle nests along the Pacific Coast; common raven, cormorant, and red-tailed hawk nests on sandy coastal bluffs; and other nests within snags or man-made structures, is widespread ([38,72,144,190], review by [37]). While peregrine falcons prefer cliff habitats, in the Canadian Arctic where cliffs are not present they readily nest on riverbanks, coastal areas, dykes, low mounds, or boulders. Nests in riverbanks are usually situated in hollows; in potholes under tree roots at the top of the bank; under roots; or under rock outcrops protruding from the face of the bank. Nests on dykes are usually in recesses under overhanging rocks jutting out from the dyke [75]. In Alaskan tundra, where cliffs are lacking, peregrine falcons nest on road cuts or pingos (low hills or mounds forced up by hydrostatic pressure in an area underlain by permafrost) (Ritchie 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190]). Nests on boulders and hummocks in the Canadian Arctic are typically exposed, with little or no overhead protection (Kelsall 1969 personal communication cited in [75]). In Sitka spruce forests in coastal British Columbia, peregrine falcons nest on rock outcrops and on ledges sheltered by overhanging trees or tree roots [37]. Ground nests in heather and other vegetation are uncommon and are typically in areas with no cliffs. Peregrine falcons using ground nests occasionally brood successfully, including those using ground nests accessible to mammalian predators [144].

Use of abandoned nests from other avian species appears to be most widespread in arctic and subarctic regions. Historically, 19% of nests on the Colville River, Alaska, were located in old rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus) nests [27]. Breeding peregrine falcons in coastal British Columbia utilized abandoned bald eagle nests 39 to 66 feet (12-20 m) high in Sitka spruce. Two peregrine falcon pairs likely nested in tree cavities on small islands with dense forest [38]. Several nests in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, were located in abandoned rough-legged hawk stick nests approximately 11 feet² (1 m²) or larger [43]. A pair of peregrine falcons in western Greenland nested in an old common raven nest on a northern exposure [26].

Peregrine falcons in urban and rural areas nest on office buildings, casinos, power plant smokestacks, bridges, overpasses, loading cranes, quarries, iron mines, water tanks, silos, and other structures [33,55,72,171]. Nests on such structures are often successful [171]. Peregrine falcons using man-made structures in metropolitan centers are often aided by artificial nest boxes or the addition of pea gravel to the existing structure, which provides nesting substrate [14]. Most urban peregrine falcons utilize artificial nest boxes filled with pea gravel [33]. Shaded ledges and air conditioners near plucking perches are used as roosting sites by peregrine falcons overwintering in urban Brazil. Peregrine falcons wintering in urban Brazil occupied ledges within 1.2 miles (2 km) of a river, and frequently hunted over or in the vicinity of the river [1].

  • 1. Albuquerque, Jorge L. B. 1984. The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in southern Brazil: aspects of winter ecology in an urban environment. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 23 p. Thesis. [70705]
  • 14. Bell, Douglas A.; Gregoire, David P.; Walton, Brian J. 1996. Bridge use by peregrine falcons in the San Francisco Bay area. In: Bird, David M.; Varland, Daniel E.; Negro, Juan Jose, eds. Raptors in human landscapes: Adaptations to built and cultivated environments. San Diego, CA: Academic Press: 15–24. [70747]
  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 33. Cade, Tom J.; Martell, Mark; Redig, Patrick; Septon, Greg; Tordoff, Harrison. 1996. Peregrine falcons in urban North America. In: Bird, David M.; Varland, Daniel E.; Negro, Juan Jose, eds. Raptors in human landscapes: Adaptations to built and cultivated environments. San Diego, CA: Academic Press: 3-13. [71307]
  • 37. Campbell, R. Wayne; Dawe, Neil K.; McTaggart-Cowan, Ian; Cooper, John M.; Kaiser, Gary W.; McNall, Michael C. E. 1990. The birds of British Columbia, Vol. II. Nonpasserines: Diurnal birds of prey through woodpeckers. Victoria, BC: Royal British Columbia Museum. 635 p. [22692]
  • 38. Campbell, R. Wayne; Paul, Marilyn A.; Rodway, Michael S.; Carter, Harry R. 1977. Tree-nesting peregrine falcons in British Columbia. The Condor. 79: 500–501. [70766]
  • 43. Court, Gordon S.; Bradley, D. Mark; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. The population biology of peregrine falcons in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories, Canada. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 729-739. [69605]
  • 55. Dzialak, Matthew Richard. 2003. Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus, reintroduction in cliff habitat in Kentucky. Kexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 219 p. Dissertation. [71016]
  • 72. Frank, Saul. 1994. City peregrines: A ten-year saga of New York City falcons. Blaine, WA: Hancock House. 320 p. [70794]
  • 75. Fyfe, Richard. 1969. The peregrine falcon in northern Canada. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 101-114. [75788]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 171. Tordoff, Harrison B.; Martell, Mark S.; Redig, Patrick T.; Solensky, Matthew J. 2000. Midwest peregrine falcon restoration, 2000 report, [Online]. In: Midwest Peregrine Society--Annual reports. St. Paul, MN: Midwest Peregrine Society (Producer). Available: http://www.midwestperegrine.org/ [2010, April 26]. [70863]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Cover Requirements: Cliff characteristics

More info for the terms: competition, cover, selection, series

Cliff charcteristics: Characteristics of nesting cliffs are highly variable, depending on local availability, prey abundance, competition, predation pressure, and proximity to water. In inland western Greenland, availability and accessibility of prey appears to influence eyrie selection more than ledge elevation [26]. Large cliffs that offer a wide view of the surrounding landscape are used more often than small cliffs [132]. Viewing range from nest ledges in southern Greenland averaged 159 degrees [68]. Large cliffs with a wide view may make hunting easier. Large cliffs may also offer more protection from terrestrial predators than small cliffs [132]. Cliff heights required by nesting peregrine falcons may be lower in remote areas than in areas with high human disturbance [88]. Subadult females that mated with adult males in Massachusetts often nested in low-quality sites with low cliff height, high human disturbance, or poor ledges [80]. Presumably, higher-quality sites were already occupied. The highest cliffs on Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, are typically occupied first because they provide shelter from weather in spring. Peregrine falcon pairs occupy low cliffs if higher cliffs are already occupied. Pairs occupying low cliffs perch on other cliffs for a period of time after arriving in the nesting area and prior to establishing a territory [45]. Unused cliff ledges may be visited by unmated adults looking for potential territories for the future. Unmated peregrine falcons may set up a territory on an unoccupied cliff and attempt to find a mate [144].

Eyries typically have sweeping views of the surrounding landscape and overlook or are located near a permanent water source. Eyries in a Colorado study were all within 2.5 miles (4 km, x =1.5 miles (2.4 km)) of the nearest permanent water source [59]. Occupied cliffs in Utah are typically in close proximity to water including reservoirs, rivers, and marshes [140]. The average distance from nesting cliffs to water in Utah was 1,558 feet (475 m), with a range of 138 to 9,780 feet (42-2,981 m) [77]. Peregrine falcons near major water sources in Arizona generally nest low on cliffs, while pairs nesting far from water tend to nest higher. Cliffs within 6 miles (10 km) of a permanent water source are highly favored for nesting in Arizona. Peregrine falcons nesting in locations with low rainfall ( less than 10 inches (250 mm)/year) are typically near a large permanent water source [57]. Water was available within 2 miles (3 km) of all eyrie cliffs in the Sierra Madre Oriental [105]. On Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, nesting cliffs were within 1,000 feet (300 m) of a major body of water, including 72% that bordered Hudson Bay [45].

When potential nesting sites are abundant, cliffs over 100 feet (30 m) tall are often selected. Where nesting sites are scarce, cliffs less than 50 feet (15 m) high may be utilized [185]. Heights of cliffs with eyries in areas with low human disturbance tend to be lower than areas of high disturbance [88]. Pairs from stable or increasing populations may nest on small cliffs that may be less than ideal [116]. Nesting cliffs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that were rated as the most favorable had a sheer or nearly sheer rock face over 200 feet (61 m) high and at least 500 feet (150 m) long, with multiple potential nesting ledges [147]. Essential habitat requirements for peregrine falcons in Colorado include cliffs ranging from 40 to 2,100 feet (12-640 m) in height, with cliffs 200 to 400 feet (60-120 m) preferred for nesting [173]. Peregrine falcons nested on vertical cliffs averaging 308 feet (94 m), with a range of 72 to 650 feet (22-198 m) high, in another Colorado study [59]. In Utah, mean nest cliff height is 178.0 to 561 feet (54.3-171 m) [77,140], with a range of 40.0 to 1,000 feet (12.2-305 m) [77,140,193]. Suitable nesting cliffs in an Arizona study varied from either ≥125 feet (38 m) in a series of cliff layers totaling ≥250 feet (80 m) or a vertical cliff face ≥200 feet (60 m) high. Cliffs primarily used for nesting in Arizona were mostly vertical (80-90°), and all cliffs were at least 70° overall, with vertical sections below the eyrie [57]. Cliffs utilized by peregrine falcons in the Sierra Madre Oriental were a minimum of 246 feet (75 m) high. In the Sierra Madre Oriental, cliffs on high ridges were 1,600 to 3,300 feet (500-1,000 m) above the valley floors [105]. Cliffs used for nesting on Langara and Cox islands, British Columbia, ranged 20 to 300 feet (6-90 m) above the beach. Langara and Cox islands were uninhabited by humans [11]. On Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, nesting peregrine falcons utilized cliffs 13 to 100 feet (4-30 m) in height [43,45]. In Greenland, nest sites were primarily on the upper half of vertical cliffs 89 to 394 feet (27-120 m) high, not including steep talus below most cliffs [26,116]. Only one eyrie in western Greenland was located on a low, broken cliff approximately 20 feet (6 m) above the ground [26]. Long cliffs are also preferred when peregrine falcons choose nesting sites [185].

Preferred roosts are often small ledges, knobs, or projections with protective overhangs on steep rock faces [144]. Multiple lookout points and available cover were considered highly desirable on a large nesting cliff in Pennsylvania and New Jersey [147]. Several roosting places are often found on a nesting cliff [144]. Perches in California were on ridges within 0.6 mile (1 km) of the eyrie [65]. Males often perch near the eyrie while the female broods the young [144].

  • 11. Beebe, Frank L. 1960. The marine peregrines of the northwest Pacific coast. The Condor. 62(3): 145-189. [76976]
  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 43. Court, Gordon S.; Bradley, D. Mark; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. The population biology of peregrine falcons in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories, Canada. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 729-739. [69605]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 57. Ellis, David H. 1982. The peregrine falcon in Arizona: habitat utilization and management recommendations. Institute for Raptor Studies: Research Reports. No. 1. 24 p. [70782]
  • 65. Enderson, James H.; Kirven, Monte N. 1983. Flights of nesting peregrine falcons recorded by telemetry. Raptor Research. 17: 33-37. [70789]
  • 68. Falk, Knud; Moller, Soren; Burnham, William A. 1986. The peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus in south Greenland: nesting requirements, phenology and prey selection. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift. 80: 113–120. [70791]
  • 77. Grebence, Brandon L.; White, Clayton M. 1989. Physiographic characteristics of peregrine falcon nesting habitat along the Colorado River system in Utah. Great Basin Naturalist. 49(3): 408–418. [70793]
  • 80. Hagar, Joseph A. 1969. History of the Massachusetts peregrine falcon population, 1935-57. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 123-131. [75789]
  • 88. Hickey, Joseph J. 1942. Eastern population of the duck hawk. The Auk. 59: 176–204. [70799]
  • 105. Lanning, Dirk V.; Lawson, Peter W.; Hunt, W. Grainger. 1977. Ecology of the peregrine falcon in northeastern Mexico. In: Swanson, Winfield, ed. Research reports--National Geographic Society. 18: 377-388. [79572]
  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 132. Newton, Ian. 1988. Population regulation in peregrines: an overview. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 761-770. [69607]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 147. Rice, James N. 1969. The decline of the peregrine population in Pennsylvania. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: Their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 155-163. [77871]
  • 173. Torres, John; Bissell, Steve; Craig, Gerald; Graul, Walter; Langlois David. 1978. Essential habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife in Colorado. Denver, CO: Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management Section. 84 p. [66642]
  • 193. Willey, David W. 1996. Eyrie characteristics of peregrine falcons in the canyonlands of Utah. Utah Birds. 12(2): 17–23. [70872]
  • 59. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1981. Physical and biological analysis of Colorado peregrine nesting habitat. Colorado Division of Wildlife: Job Progress Report-- Endangered wildlife investigations. July 1, 1979 to February 28, 1981. [Denver, CO: Colorado Division of Wildlife]. Unpublished report on file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [70785]
  • 185. Whitacre, David F. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, 1976. [Purchase Order No. 659-R3-76]. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 4; Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute Contribution 4. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 19 p. [71180]

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Cover Requirements: Cliff nest sites

Eyries are typically on broad, open cliff ledges or in shallow caves and range from 32 to 86 feet² (3-8 m²) in area [43,144,170]. Eyries may also be found in deep recesses and rock cavities known as "potholes" [27,193] that have been carved out of cliffs by weathering. Small amounts of vegetation are common at eyries [43,144,170].

Peregrine falcons do not build nests [144]. Rather, they make scrapes (scratch out a shallow bowl in the substrate on a ledge) or take over unused nests built by other avian species [129,144,185]. Scrapes are typically 7 to 9 inches (17-22 cm) in diameter and 1 to 2 inches (3-5 cm) deep. Ledges with a long history of use tend to contain more substrate than ledges that have supported minimal nesting in the past [144]. Multiple scrapes may be made during courtship before one is chosen for nesting [140,144]. The purpose of making multiple scrapes is currently unknown.

A ledge must be large enough to hold a brood of young as they develop. Several ledges on a cliff may be used for nesting, but often only a few ledges are most preferred. Some eyries are used repeatedly over time, but not necessarily by the same pair. All but very small cliffs have some ledges that are potentially suitable for a peregrine falcon nest. Thus, availability of cliff ledges is likely not a limiting factor for peregrine falcons in most habitats [144].

Preferred eyrie ledges have high overhanging rock that allows adults to easily fly in and out of the nest site [170] and provides protection from the weather, falling rocks, and predators [27,144]. However, overhangs do not appear to be a requirement [68,87]. Historically, some peregrine falcon eyries on the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, were sheltered by the roots of Sitka spruce trees growing on the cliff brink [78] or under overhanging vegetation and snags at the top of the cliff [11]. Brush above eyries may screen the nest from predators [27]. Vegetation on nest ledges provides shade for young peregrine falcons. Fecal matter combined with prey remains may provide a nutritive base on which grasses or other vegetation may establish [26]. Shade at eyries is essential when day time temperatures reach 90 ºF (32 ºC) or higher. Adults may be able to shade nestlings during periods of excessive heat, but adults have limited tolerance to direct sunlight as well [126].

  • 11. Beebe, Frank L. 1960. The marine peregrines of the northwest Pacific coast. The Condor. 62(3): 145-189. [76976]
  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 43. Court, Gordon S.; Bradley, D. Mark; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. The population biology of peregrine falcons in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories, Canada. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 729-739. [69605]
  • 68. Falk, Knud; Moller, Soren; Burnham, William A. 1986. The peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus in south Greenland: nesting requirements, phenology and prey selection. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift. 80: 113–120. [70791]
  • 78. Green, C. de B. 1916. Notes on the distribution and nesting-habits of Falco peregrinus pealei Ridgeway. Ibis. 10(4): 473-476. [77487]
  • 87. Herman, Margaret; Willard, E. Earl. 1978. Peregrine falcon and its habitat. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Forest System Cooperative Forestry, Forestry Research, Region 1. 23 p. [13730]
  • 126. Nelson, Morlan W. 1969. The status of the peregrine falcon in the Northwest. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: Their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 61-72. [75787]
  • 129. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1970. Some aspects of the breeding behaviour of peregrine falcons on Langara Island, B.C. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 306 p. Thesis. [70710]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 170. Thelander, Carl G. 1977. The breeding status of peregrine falcons in California. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. 112 p. Thesis. [70712]
  • 193. Willey, David W. 1996. Eyrie characteristics of peregrine falcons in the canyonlands of Utah. Utah Birds. 12(2): 17–23. [70872]
  • 185. Whitacre, David F. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, 1976. [Purchase Order No. 659-R3-76]. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 4; Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute Contribution 4. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 19 p. [71180]

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Preferred Habitat: Home range and density

More info for the terms: competition, density

The size of peregrine falcon home ranges, including hunting ranges beyond the actively defended area near the eyrie, is influenced by prey and nest site availability [140,144]. Peregrine falcon density can be high when avian prey is abundant [144]. Along coastal British Columbia, peregrine falcons concentrate in areas with abundant potential prey, which may be a more important feature of their habitat in that area than cliffs or any other landscape feature [12]. Population size of raptors is often limited by availability of suitable nesting sites [92,93].

Historically, the highest peregrine falcon population densities in North America were observed in the subarctic (50-60 ºN) and low Arctic (60-70 ºN) [27]. High population densities for Peale's peregrine falcons on Langara Island, British Columbia, were recorded before the global decline in peregrine falcon populations was evident. Numerous cliffs and abundant seabirds minimized competition. Density for the entire 25-mile (40 km) perimeter of Langara Island was 16 to 20 breeding pairs from 1952 to 1958. The highest concentration of nesting peregrine falcons included 5 to 8 nesting pairs within a linear distance of approximately 1.75 miles (2.8 km) [11]. In Utah, the historical average distance between eyries was 130 miles (209 km). Some eyries in Utah were as close as 2 miles (3.2 km) apart [140].

In Colorado, estimated mean home range during nesting was 138 to 582 mi² (358-1,508 km²) for 2 adult males and 3 adult females [61]. An adult male in Alaska had a hunting range of 123.5 mi² (319.8 km²) [191]. Hunting range estimates by Mearns [120] in Scotland were 3.5 to 8.5 mi² (9-22 km²) for 2 females when nestlings were present and 9 to 45 mi² (23-117 km²) after young fledged. First-year peregrine falcons wintering on the Texas coast were highly mobile around tidal flats. An adult female and a 2nd-year female on the Texas coast were more sedentary than 1st-year peregrine falcons in winter. On the Texas coast, winter hunting ranges of peregrine falcons were 12 to 17 miles (20-28 km) in diameter [66]. On winter grounds in an urban area of Brazil, the estimated hunting ranges were 1.21 mi² (3.14 km²) for one male and 3.93 mi² (10.17 km²) for one female [1].

Peregrine falcon density estimates across North America
Location Density Estimate Date of Estimate
southeastern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands 1 pair/10.0-80.0 km between occupied cliffs 1969-1985 [4]
Kuskokwim River, Alaska 1 pair/9-47 km 1980 (Ambrose 1980 cited in [122])
Alaska, arctic 1 pair/3.2-3.8 km along river corridor 1990s (Swem 2002 unpublished data cited in a review by [190])
Northwest Territories, arctic 1 pair/97-362 km² 1982-1985 [21]
Rankin Inlet, Nunavut 1 pair/15.5 -26.5 km² or 1 pair/3.3 km, average linear distance 1981-1995 [42,44,45,99]
western Greenland 1 pair/92-116 km² average 1984-1985 [116]
Langara Island, British Columbia 1 pair/3.2-4.3 km average 1968-1975 [130]
California, northern coast 1 pair/471-654 km² 2001 (Walton 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190])
California, insular and coastal zones 1 pair/23.8-51.5 km, linear distance 1975-1976 [170]
Colorado and Utah, Dinosaur National Monument 1 pair/5.1-6.4 km² No data (Petersburg 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190])
Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park 1 pair/16.3 km² 1988-1989 (review by [190])
Texas 1 bird/50 km² 1993-1994 [66]
Urban populations 1 pair/3.6 km² 2001 (review by [190])
  • 1. Albuquerque, Jorge L. B. 1984. The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in southern Brazil: aspects of winter ecology in an urban environment. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 23 p. Thesis. [70705]
  • 4. Ambrose, Robert E.; Ritchie, Robert J.; White, Clayton M.; Schempf, Philip F.; Swem, Ted; Dittrick, Robert. 1988. Changes in the status of peregrine falcon populations in Alaska. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 73-82. [69553]
  • 11. Beebe, Frank L. 1960. The marine peregrines of the northwest Pacific coast. The Condor. 62(3): 145-189. [76976]
  • 12. Beebe, Frank L. 1969. The known status of the peregrine falcon in British Columbia. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 53-60. [75786]
  • 21. Bromley, Robert G. 1988. Status of peregrine falcons in the Kitikmeot, Baffin, and Keewatin regions, Northwest Territories, 1982-1985. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 51-57. [69545]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 42. Court, G. S.; Bradley, D. M.; Gates, C. C.; Boag, D. A. 1989. Turnover and recruitment in a tundra population of peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus. Ibis. 131: 487–496. [70774]
  • 44. Court, Gordon S.; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. Natural history of the peregrine falcon in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories. Arctic. 41(1): 17–30. [70775]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 61. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1997. Wide ranging by nesting peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus ) determined by radiotelemetry. Journal of Raptor Research. 31(4): 333-338. [70786]
  • 66. Enderson, James H.; Larrabee, Jon; Jones, Zach; Peper, Chris; Lepisto, Chris. 1995. Behavior of peregrines in winter in south Texas. Journal of Raptor Research. 29(2): 93-98. [70790]
  • 92. Hunt, W. Grainger. 1988. The natural regulation of peregrine falcon populations. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 667-676. [69600]
  • 93. Hunt, W. Grainger. 1998. Raptor floaters at Moffat's equilibrium. Oikos. 82(1): 191-197. [77465]
  • 99. Johnstone, Robin Mark. 1998. Aspects of the population biology of tundra peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus tundrius). Saskatoon, SK: University of Saskatchewan, Department of Veterinary Anatomy. 130 p. Dissertation. [70709]
  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 120. Mearns, Richard. 1985. The hunting ranges of two female peregrines toward the end of a breeding season. Raptor Research. 19(1): 20–26. [70821]
  • 122. Mindell, David P.; Dotson, Richard A. 1982. Distribution and abundance of nesting raptors in southwestern Alaska. In: Ladd, Wilbur N.; Schempf, Philip F., eds. Raptor management and biology in Alaska and western Canada: Proceedings of a symposium and workshop; 1981 February 17-20; Anchorage, AK. FWS/AK/PROC-82. Anchorage, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Regional Office: 112-137. [25660]
  • 130. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1977. Behavioral ecology of coastal peregrines (Falco peregrinus pealei). Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 490 p. Dissertation. [70743]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 170. Thelander, Carl G. 1977. The breeding status of peregrine falcons in California. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. 112 p. Thesis. [70712]
  • 191. White, Clayton M.; Nelson, R. Wayne. 1991. Hunting ranges and strategies in a tundra breeding peregrine and gyrfalcon observed from a helicopter. Journal of Raptor Research. 25(3): 49–62. [70871]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Mortality

More info for the term: interference

Wild and hacked peregrine falcons live up to 20 years [89,172,190]. Annual survival of breeding peregrine falcons is estimated at 63% to 100% for females and 50% to 89% for males [42,45,99,119,128,169,172], with considerable variation between study areas. On Langara Island, British Columbia, Nelson [127] determined that adult mortality increases after raising large broods. Annual mortality for peregrine falcons raising 3 to 4 young was higher (43%) than peregrine falcons raising 0 to 2 young (23%), suggesting that raising larger broods incurs a higher physical cost [127,128]. The opposite trend was observed in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut (Court 1988 personal communication cited in [127]), suggesting that adult rearing efforts vary between populations [127]. Population turnover rates in Colorado were likely due to mortality or movements to other breeding territories [60]. Survival rates for rehabilitated peregrine falcons 1 year after release are approximately 14%. Some rehabilitated peregrine falcons reproduce successfully after release [168].

Nestling mortality is highest within 5 to 7 days after hatching [45,80]. In a review, White and others [190] determined average first-year survival ranges from 40% to 50% after fledging. However, few reliable mortality estimates were recorded as of 2002 (review by [190]). Annual survival for nestlings on Langara Island, British Columbia, was estimated at 45% to 55% [130]. On Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, 14% of nestlings failed to fledge at nests that produced at least one fledgling [43,45]. Less than 4% of the nestlings raised were recruited into the breeding population in later years [42]. Minimum first-year survival for peregrine falcons in the Midwest was estimated at 23%, but the estimate is likely low [172].

Hazards for urban peregrine falcons include collisions with buildings, automobiles, airplanes, and power lines [33,72,168]. Hazards in areas with low human populations include shooting, electrocution via power lines or lightning, and airplane strikes (Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group unpublished data cited in a review by [190]). Adults and immatures are vulnerable to automobile collisions when scavenging roadkill [29]. Predation and accidental loss contribute to the loss of eggs and nestlings [27]. Common causes of death for nestlings and fledglings include predation, disease, starvation, electrocution, human interference, collisions with automobiles or aircraft, windows or other man-made objects, becoming ensnared on a building, falling into chimneys, and drowning after falling from bridges [9,29,168]. In Kentucky, fledglings in smokestack nests died after becoming entangled in a ladder or lost in a building [39]. In Alaska, cold temperatures, accidental destruction of the eggs, and insufficient incubation by adults cause greater nest failure than predation. Cade [27] determined that starvation was likely the most common cause of death for independent peregrine falcons <1 year of age.

  • 9. Barclay, John H.; Cade, Tom J. 1983. Restoration of the peregrine falcon in the eastern United States. Bird Conservation. 1: 3–37. [70746]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 33. Cade, Tom J.; Martell, Mark; Redig, Patrick; Septon, Greg; Tordoff, Harrison. 1996. Peregrine falcons in urban North America. In: Bird, David M.; Varland, Daniel E.; Negro, Juan Jose, eds. Raptors in human landscapes: Adaptations to built and cultivated environments. San Diego, CA: Academic Press: 3-13. [71307]
  • 39. Carter, Kristina Marie. 2003. Food habits, reproductive status, habitat use, and behavior of peregrine falcon in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 99 p. Thesis. [71017]
  • 42. Court, G. S.; Bradley, D. M.; Gates, C. C.; Boag, D. A. 1989. Turnover and recruitment in a tundra population of peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus. Ibis. 131: 487–496. [70774]
  • 43. Court, Gordon S.; Bradley, D. Mark; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. The population biology of peregrine falcons in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories, Canada. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 729-739. [69605]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 60. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1988. Population turnover in Colorado peregrines. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 685-688. [69602]
  • 72. Frank, Saul. 1994. City peregrines: A ten-year saga of New York City falcons. Blaine, WA: Hancock House. 320 p. [70794]
  • 80. Hagar, Joseph A. 1969. History of the Massachusetts peregrine falcon population, 1935-57. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 123-131. [75789]
  • 99. Johnstone, Robin Mark. 1998. Aspects of the population biology of tundra peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus tundrius). Saskatoon, SK: University of Saskatchewan, Department of Veterinary Anatomy. 130 p. Dissertation. [70709]
  • 119. Mearns, R.; Newton, I. 1984. Turnover and dispersal in a peregrine Falco peregrinus population. Ibis. 126: 347–355. [70822]
  • 130. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1977. Behavioral ecology of coastal peregrines (Falco peregrinus pealei). Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 490 p. Dissertation. [70743]
  • 169. Telford, Elizabeth A. 1996. Peregrine falcons in the northeastern United States: sonagraphic analysis of the defense call, population turnover, and dispersal. Boise, ID: Boise State University. 68 p. Thesis. [70711]
  • 172. Tordoff, Harrison B.; Redig, Patrick T. 1997. Midwest peregrine falcon demography, 1982–1995. Journal of Raptor Research. 31(4): 339–346. [70864]
  • 29. Cade, Tom J.; Bird, David M. 1990. Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus, nesting in an urban environment: a review. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 104(2): 209-218. [13718]
  • 89. Hickey, Joseph J.; Anderson, Daniel W. 1969. The peregrine falcon: life history and population literature. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 3-42. [13722]
  • 127. Nelson, R. Wayne. 1988. Do large natural broods increase mortality of parent peregrine falcons? In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 719-728. [69604]
  • 128. Nelson, R. Wayne. 1990. Status of the peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus pealei, on Langara Island, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, 1968–1989. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 104(2): 193–199. [70829]
  • 168. Sweeney, Steven J.; Redig, Patrick T.; Tordoff, Harrison B. 1997. Morbidity, survival, and productivity of rehabilitated peregrine falcons in the upper midwestern U.S. Journal of Raptor Research. 31(4): 347–352. [70861]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Life History

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Cover Requirements: Nest fidelity

Peregrine falcons exhibit a high degree of nest-site fidelity [3,8,45,60,80,172]. High nest-site fidelity likely reinforces pair bonds [172]. Peregrine falcons typically return to the same territory to breed in successive years, but not necessarily to the same eyrie [27,35,45,116,119,138,144,169,173]. In Colorado, 77% of females and 83% of males returned to the same breeding territory in subsequent years [60]. A pair of peregrine falcons on Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, remained bonded at the same territory for at least 4 years [45]. A nest site may be used for decades, with many pairs of peregrine falcons occupying the same territory over time [144]. However, some previously used nesting sites may not be occupied every year [58]. Nest site reoccupancy rates can range from 50% to 100% [3,35,58,60].
  • 3. Ambrose, Robert E.; Riddle, Kenton E. 1988. Population dispersal, turnover, and migration of Alaska peregrines. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 677-684. [69601]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 35. Calef, George W.; Heard, Douglas C. 1979. Reproductive success of peregrine falcons and other raptors at Wager Bay and Melville Peninsula, Northwest Territories. The Auk. 96: 662–674. [70765]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 58. Ellis, David H. 1988. Distribution, productivity, and the status of the peregrine falcon in Arizona. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 87-94. [69555]
  • 60. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1988. Population turnover in Colorado peregrines. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 685-688. [69602]
  • 80. Hagar, Joseph A. 1969. History of the Massachusetts peregrine falcon population, 1935-57. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 123-131. [75789]
  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 119. Mearns, R.; Newton, I. 1984. Turnover and dispersal in a peregrine Falco peregrinus population. Ibis. 126: 347–355. [70822]
  • 138. Ponton, David A. 1983. Nest site selection by peregrine falcons. Raptor Research. 17(1): 27–28. [70839]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 169. Telford, Elizabeth A. 1996. Peregrine falcons in the northeastern United States: sonagraphic analysis of the defense call, population turnover, and dispersal. Boise, ID: Boise State University. 68 p. Thesis. [70711]
  • 172. Tordoff, Harrison B.; Redig, Patrick T. 1997. Midwest peregrine falcon demography, 1982–1995. Journal of Raptor Research. 31(4): 339–346. [70864]
  • 173. Torres, John; Bissell, Steve; Craig, Gerald; Graul, Walter; Langlois David. 1978. Essential habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife in Colorado. Denver, CO: Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management Section. 84 p. [66642]
  • 8. Barclay, Jack. 1995. Patterns of dispersal and survival of eastern peregrine falcons derived from banding data. Santa Cruz, CA: Biosystems Ananlysis. Unpublished paper on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 24 p. [+ appendices]. [70745]

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Cover Requirements: Cliff exposure

Cliff orientation may be influenced by availability rather than a choice of a particular exposure in some locations [45]. Local climatic conditions may influence the importance of nest or cliff aspect [87,185]. In the Southwest and southern Rocky Mountains, southern exposures are largely avoided [57,59,69,77,140,193] due to excessive afternoon heat. All aspects other than due south, including southeast and southwest, are used for nesting in southern Utah [77,193]. Nests in the Southwest that face south or west are often on deeply recessed ledges with a boulder or vegetation on the ledge or with overhanging rock that provides afternoon shade [57,77]. Peregrine falcons in the Southwest, including unmated individuals, may utilize cliff ledges facing all directions for activities other than nesting [69].

In the Arctic, southerly exposures are preferred ([26,44,116], Blood 1973 cited in [87]). They are substantially warmer than northern exposures [26]. Nest ledges in southern Greenland faced southwest on average, with a range of southeast to north-northwest [68]. Most cliffs used by peregrine falcons on Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, faced southwest, although nesting success on north-facing cliffs was similar [45].

  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 44. Court, Gordon S.; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. Natural history of the peregrine falcon in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories. Arctic. 41(1): 17–30. [70775]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 57. Ellis, David H. 1982. The peregrine falcon in Arizona: habitat utilization and management recommendations. Institute for Raptor Studies: Research Reports. No. 1. 24 p. [70782]
  • 68. Falk, Knud; Moller, Soren; Burnham, William A. 1986. The peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus in south Greenland: nesting requirements, phenology and prey selection. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift. 80: 113–120. [70791]
  • 69. Falxa, Gary A. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Gila National Forest. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 3; Chihuahuan Desert Reseach Institute Contribution 3. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 31 p. [71179]
  • 77. Grebence, Brandon L.; White, Clayton M. 1989. Physiographic characteristics of peregrine falcon nesting habitat along the Colorado River system in Utah. Great Basin Naturalist. 49(3): 408–418. [70793]
  • 87. Herman, Margaret; Willard, E. Earl. 1978. Peregrine falcon and its habitat. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Forest System Cooperative Forestry, Forestry Research, Region 1. 23 p. [13730]
  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 193. Willey, David W. 1996. Eyrie characteristics of peregrine falcons in the canyonlands of Utah. Utah Birds. 12(2): 17–23. [70872]
  • 59. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1981. Physical and biological analysis of Colorado peregrine nesting habitat. Colorado Division of Wildlife: Job Progress Report-- Endangered wildlife investigations. July 1, 1979 to February 28, 1981. [Denver, CO: Colorado Division of Wildlife]. Unpublished report on file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [70785]
  • 185. Whitacre, David F. 1976. Peregrine falcon nesting survey and habitat evaluation in the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, 1976. [Purchase Order No. 659-R3-76]. USDA Forest Service Wildlife Technical Bulletin 4; Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute Contribution 4. Alpine, TX: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 19 p. [71180]

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Cover Requirements: Nest elevation

Nests are generally located on the upper half of the cliff [27,68,77,116,193]. However, this is not always true [45]. Historically, distances from the cliff brink to eyries ranged 0 to 331 feet (2-101 m) in Alaska. Eyries were 0 to 250 feet (0-80 m) up the vertical face of the cliffs [27]. In Greenland, nest sites were on the upper half of vertical cliffs 89 to 390 feet (27-120 m) high [116]. On average, eyries in Greenland were located approximately 59% above the bottom of the cliff (range 31-71%) [68]. Peregrine falcon nests at Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, were located 7 to 85 feet (2-26 m) above the cliff base [43,45]. The highest nest on Rankin Inlet was 85 feet (26 m) from the base of a 98 feet (30 m) cliff [45].

Eyrie heights above the cliff bases in southern Utah ranged 82 to 834 feet (25-260 m) [77,193]. Porter and White [140] determined that eyries in Utah can be >1,000 feet (305 m) above the cliff base. Eyrie heights above cliff bases in the Sierra Madre Oriental ranged 160 to 250 feet (50-75 m) regardless of overall cliff height [105].

  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 43. Court, Gordon S.; Bradley, D. Mark; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. The population biology of peregrine falcons in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories, Canada. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 729-739. [69605]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 68. Falk, Knud; Moller, Soren; Burnham, William A. 1986. The peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus in south Greenland: nesting requirements, phenology and prey selection. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift. 80: 113–120. [70791]
  • 77. Grebence, Brandon L.; White, Clayton M. 1989. Physiographic characteristics of peregrine falcon nesting habitat along the Colorado River system in Utah. Great Basin Naturalist. 49(3): 408–418. [70793]
  • 105. Lanning, Dirk V.; Lawson, Peter W.; Hunt, W. Grainger. 1977. Ecology of the peregrine falcon in northeastern Mexico. In: Swanson, Winfield, ed. Research reports--National Geographic Society. 18: 377-388. [79572]
  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 193. Willey, David W. 1996. Eyrie characteristics of peregrine falcons in the canyonlands of Utah. Utah Birds. 12(2): 17–23. [70872]

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Great-horned Owl may be a serious nest predator in the U.S. Severe weather may result in high mortality in far north. Foraging range up to 27 kilometers (Martin 1979); home ranges in Great Britain varied from 44-65 square kilometers, and averaged 52 square kilometers (Brown and Amadon 1968). In Utah, home range radii varied from 0.3 to 29.8 kilometers, average 12.2 km (n = 19; Porter and White 1973).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Peregrine falcons use a wide variety of vocalizations at different stages of life, but primarily during breeding seasons.

Most vocalizations are either between mated individuals, parents and offspring, or in antagonistic interactions.

Young beg for food with a call similar to: "screea, screea, screea."

"Cack" calls are usually used in alarm and nest defense. They are highly individual specific, with individual recognition possible in 72 to 90% of calls. The call is characterized as "kaa-a-aack, kaa-a-ack."

"Chitter" calls are used in several contexts and are a rapid succession of "chi chi chi chi's." Similarly, the eechip call occurs in a variety of contexts. It is characterized as "kee-u-chip", but the "chip" portion contains the highest energy and the "kee-u" portion is often left out.

When hunting, peregrine falcons will often give sharp, territorial calls in quick succession, "kee, kee kee...".

Postures are used to communicate aggression and appeasement. Raising the feathers and bill gaping are typical of aggressive posturing. Submission is indicated by the feathers being held tight to the body and the head held down, with beak averted.

Peregrine falcons have extraordinarily keen vision. They can see small objects from very far away and accurately fly at high speeds to capture them.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

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Hunting methods

More info for the term: cover

Peregrine falcons use a variety of hunting techniques including stooping from a soaring position at flying or groundlevel targets, long-distance flapping flight toward groundlevel targets; low-flying surprise attacks at groundlevel targets; low-maneuvering groundlevel flight; high direct or maneuvering flight; short-range attacks on flying targets; pursuit of flying targets; and attacks on groundlevel targets from a perched position [24,48,51,82,152,174,191]. Peregrine falcons may use terrain features or other structures to hide from prey until they are close enough to make a surprise attack ([48], Dekker 1999 cited in a review by [190]). Immature peregrine falcons may engage in long pursuits by chasing prey or repeatedly swooping at flying prey [48]. Aquatic birds may be pursued over water [51]. When hunting over open water, peregrine falcons use high-speed, low-level flights, using the waves to conceal their approach and taking swimming birds by surprise [28]. Ducks (Anatidae) may be seized on the ground, in shallow water, or just after flushing [50]. Fish are captured when they break the water's surface. When peregrine falcons are perched below potential flying prey, they may circle upwards to intercept their prey, maneuvering to keep prey flying until the prey becomes exhausted and can be grabbed in midair; or circle up until the peregrine falcon is above the prey, forcing the prey to seek cover in trees or on the ground. Peregrine falcons hunt birds and possibly small mammals on the ground by exploring vegetation with their feet, attempting to flush prey [28]. Occasionally, peregrine falcons run down invertebrates, reptiles, small mammals, and young or newly fledged birds on the ground [82,190]. Peregrine falcons hunting bats that are entering or exiting caves may use several hunting methods [159,164]. Peregrine falcons stoop at swarms of bats near the cave opening, fly into a large group of flying bats, or fly parallel to and grab bats on the edge of the swarm [159]. Young fledglings are typically not skilled enough to capture avian prey, but they often successfully capture insects on the ground and on the wing [15,28,144].

The stoop method of attack is the most common hunting tactic utilized. Peregrine falcons stoop at flocks as well as individual birds [24]. When peregrine falcons attack flocking birds, they attempt to separate individuals from the group, making the individuals more vulnerable to capture ([23], Tinbergen 1951 cited in a review by [190]). When stooping, a perched peregrine falcon flies above prey and dives after a suitable height is reached [144]. Stoops may originate from 160 to >4,900 feet (50-1,500 m) above an intended target, with a dive of up to 3,540 feet (1,080 m) [2,24,158]. Diving peregrine falcons reach may velocities of 56 to 250 mph (90-400 kph) [28,73,108,144,175]. However, diving speeds of 69 to 87 mph (112-140 kph) or less may be more typical [2]. Peregrine falcons may pull out of a dive to grab or strike prey, or repeatedly dive to force prey into water or on open ground where it can be grabbed [28,152]. Prey is often killed and eaten in flight [144,159,190]. Multiple accounts of successful and unsuccessful hunting attempts are summarized in these sources: [48,152].

Hunting success depends on many factors including age of the individual, breeding status, hunger level [15,149], hunting determination, weather, prey abundance, achievement of surprise, time of day, season, prey species, and prey behavior [48,51]. Depending on these factors, hunting success rates can range from 7.3% to 83.2% [15,149,152,174,190]. In western Washington, peregrine falcons hunting dunlins (Calidris alpina) in winter had a success rate of 47% in estuaries and 12.5% on coastal beaches [23,24]. An adult male had hunting success rates ranging from 73% to 100% on open coastal marshes [28]. Adults are significantly more successful during the breeding season than outside the breeding season (34.9% and 12.7%, respectively, P<0.001). Outside the breeding season, adults have significantly higher hunting success than immatures (12.7% and 7.3%, respectively, P<0.001) (review by [149]). Peregrine falcons that are highly motivated are more successful at hunting than less motivated peregrine falcons. Motivation was determined by the perceived intensity of hunting efforts [174].

  • 2. Alerstam, Thomas. 1987. Radar observations of the stoop of the peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus and the goshawk Accipiter gentilis. Ibis. 129: 267-273. [71356]
  • 15. Bird, David M.; Aubry, Yves. 1982. Reproductive and hunting behavior in peregrine falcons, Falco peregrinus, in southern Quebec. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 96(2): 167–171. [70748]
  • 23. Buchanan, Joseph B. 1996. A comparison of behavior and success rates of merlins and peregrine falcons when hunting dunlins in two coastal habitats. Journal of Raptor Research. 30(2): 93–98. [70755]
  • 24. Buchanan, Joseph B.; Herman, Steven G.; Johnson, Tod M. 1986. Success rates of the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus ) hunting dunlin (Calidris alpina ) during winter. Raptor Research. 20(3/4): 130–131. [70756]
  • 28. Cade, Tom J. 1982. Peregrine (great-footed falcon, duck hawk): Falco peregrinus. In: Cade, Tom J. The falcons of the world. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press: 58-68. [71355]
  • 48. Dekker, Dick. 1980. Hunting success rates, foraging habits, and prey selection of peregrine falcons migrating through central Alberta. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 94(4): 371–382. [70776]
  • 50. Dekker, Dick. 1987. Peregrine falcon predation on ducks in Alberta and British Columbia. Journal of Wildland Management. 51(1): 156–159. [70778]
  • 51. Dekker, Dick. 1995. Prey capture by peregrine falcons wintering on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Journal of Raptor Research. 29(1): 26–29. [70779]
  • 73. Franklin, Ken. 1999. Vertical flight. North American Falconers' Association Journal. 38: 68-72. [77467]
  • 82. Harris, James T.; Clement, David M. 1975. Greenland peregrines at their eyries: A behavioral study of the peregrine falcon. Meddelelser om Gronland. 205(3). Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel. 28 p. [79571]
  • 108. Ledger, John. 1987. How fast a peregrine? Gabar. 2: 52. [70814]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 149. Roalkvam, Rune. 1985. How effective are hunting peregrines? Raptor Research. 19(1): 27–29. [70846]
  • 152. Rudebeck, Gustaf. 1951. The choice of prey and mode of hunting of predatory birds with special reference to their selective effect. Oikos. 3: 200–231. [70848]
  • 158. Sherrod, Steve K. 1983. Behavior of fledgling peregrines. Ithaca, NY: The Peregrine Fund, Inc. 202 p. [76974]
  • 159. Skutch, Alexander, Jr. 1951. Aerial feeding of duck hawk, Falco peregrinus. The Auk. 68: 372–373. [70853]
  • 164. Stager, Kenneth E. 1941. A group of bat-eating duck hawks. The Condor. 43: 137-139. [70860]
  • 174. Treleaven, R. B. 1980. High and low intensity hunting in raptors. Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie. 54: 339-345. [77468]
  • 175. Tucker, Vance A.; Cade, Tom J.; Tucker, Alice E. 1998. Diving speeds and angles of a gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus). The Journal of Experimental Biology. 201: 2061-2070. [77469]
  • 191. White, Clayton M.; Nelson, R. Wayne. 1991. Hunting ranges and strategies in a tundra breeding peregrine and gyrfalcon observed from a helicopter. Journal of Raptor Research. 25(3): 49–62. [70871]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Foraging behavior

More info for the term: cover

The distance that peregrine falcons hunt from the eyrie may partially depend on breeding status, previous hunting success, and prey size [55]. Most peregrine falcons hunt within 9 miles (15 km) of the nest [27,61,65,120,140,191]. However, peregrine falcons often travel 15 miles (24 km) or more to hunt [61,120,173,191]. Females can carry prey a longer distance than males; thus, they may have larger hunting ranges [144]. On Langara Island, British Columbia, nesting peregrine falcons generally have small ranges, often hunting from perched positions at or near the eyrie [11]. At the opposite extreme, peregrine falcons in the forested interior of British Columbia traveled up to 60 miles (100 km) from the nest to prey on seabird colonies on the coast [38].

When searching for food, peregrine falcons primarily perch, but they also search while flying or walking on the ground (review by [190]). During the breeding season, adults may perch at a high vantage point on a cliff face, often near their eyrie, overlooking vast open space where birds may be flying. Peregrine falcons hunting while perched may try to blend in with surrounding features or partially hide in rock crevices to make surprise attacks [174]. During fall migration, an immature male hunted from perches or while in low flight before and after migratory flight each day, but rarely during migratory flight [40]. Hunting activity decreases during inclement weather with low cloud cover [48,82]. Hunting may be directed at prey toward the base of the eyrie rather than above the eyrie during periods of low cloud cover [82].

Adults usually eat away from the eyrie. Prey is either eaten where it is captured or carried to a favored perch or the nesting cliff before being consumed [144]. Eating perches included trees, rocks, or the ground, in areas with low risk of human disturbance [11,15]. Small prey ( less than 3.5 ounces (100 g)) are usually completely consumed after decapitation and plucking [15,79,144,150,190]. Small birds can be plucked and eaten in flight [15]. Small prey can be captured farther away from plucking perches than large prey [1]. Alternately, large prey (>9 oz (250 g)) may be plucked, eviscerated, and either partially consumed on the ground or broken into large pieces that are carried to a plucking perch, eyrie, or left for later (review by [190], Cade and Hunt 2002 personal observation cited in a review by [190]). In one observation, a male peregrine falcon killed a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) that was too large for the male to carry back to the nest. The female retrieved the prey [15].

Peregrine falcons cache excess intact prey, especially during the breeding season [15,129,144,174,190]. Prey captured in the early morning is cached and used periodically through the day [129,144]. Historically on Langara Island, British Columbia, peregrine falcons captured more prey than was needed and left partially consumed remains at favored eating sites [11]. This was apparently an unusual observation, because peregrine falcons typically cache excess prey for later use.

Mated pairs engage in hunting, including cooperative hunting, during courtship and after young have fledged [15,27,144]. Cooperative hunting between peregrine falcons of the same gender has also been documented [48]. Food exchanges between males and females occur during courtship [15,129]. Prey is often transferred from male to female near the eyrie, and the female primarily feeds the young. As chicks age, the adults leave food at the eyrie, and the young tear it apart and eat it [79]. Aerial transfers between adults and fledglings are also common. Fledglings may depend on their parents for food for 6 weeks or more after fledging [129].

  • 1. Albuquerque, Jorge L. B. 1984. The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in southern Brazil: aspects of winter ecology in an urban environment. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 23 p. Thesis. [70705]
  • 11. Beebe, Frank L. 1960. The marine peregrines of the northwest Pacific coast. The Condor. 62(3): 145-189. [76976]
  • 15. Bird, David M.; Aubry, Yves. 1982. Reproductive and hunting behavior in peregrine falcons, Falco peregrinus, in southern Quebec. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 96(2): 167–171. [70748]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 38. Campbell, R. Wayne; Paul, Marilyn A.; Rodway, Michael S.; Carter, Harry R. 1977. Tree-nesting peregrine falcons in British Columbia. The Condor. 79: 500–501. [70766]
  • 40. Cochran, William W. 1975. Following a migrating peregrine from Wisconsin to Mexico. Hawk Chalk. 14(2): 28–37. [70772]
  • 48. Dekker, Dick. 1980. Hunting success rates, foraging habits, and prey selection of peregrine falcons migrating through central Alberta. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 94(4): 371–382. [70776]
  • 55. Dzialak, Matthew Richard. 2003. Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus, reintroduction in cliff habitat in Kentucky. Kexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 219 p. Dissertation. [71016]
  • 61. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1997. Wide ranging by nesting peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus ) determined by radiotelemetry. Journal of Raptor Research. 31(4): 333-338. [70786]
  • 65. Enderson, James H.; Kirven, Monte N. 1983. Flights of nesting peregrine falcons recorded by telemetry. Raptor Research. 17: 33-37. [70789]
  • 79. Greiman, Harley L. 1975. Nesting observations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus annatum), Los Padres National Forest, California. Goleta, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District. 41 p. [19360]
  • 82. Harris, James T.; Clement, David M. 1975. Greenland peregrines at their eyries: A behavioral study of the peregrine falcon. Meddelelser om Gronland. 205(3). Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel. 28 p. [79571]
  • 120. Mearns, Richard. 1985. The hunting ranges of two female peregrines toward the end of a breeding season. Raptor Research. 19(1): 20–26. [70821]
  • 129. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1970. Some aspects of the breeding behaviour of peregrine falcons on Langara Island, B.C. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 306 p. Thesis. [70710]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 150. Rosenfield, Robert N.; Schneider, James W.; Papp, Joseph M.; Seegar, William S. 1995. Prey of peregrine falcons breeding in West Greenland. The Condor. 97: 763–770. [70847]
  • 173. Torres, John; Bissell, Steve; Craig, Gerald; Graul, Walter; Langlois David. 1978. Essential habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife in Colorado. Denver, CO: Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management Section. 84 p. [66642]
  • 174. Treleaven, R. B. 1980. High and low intensity hunting in raptors. Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie. 54: 339-345. [77468]
  • 191. White, Clayton M.; Nelson, R. Wayne. 1991. Hunting ranges and strategies in a tundra breeding peregrine and gyrfalcon observed from a helicopter. Journal of Raptor Research. 25(3): 49–62. [70871]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Preferred Habitat: Territoriality

More info for the terms: competition, density

Territories appear to have 2 defended components. Peregrine falcons aggressively defend a 0.05- to 1-mile (0.09-1.6 km) radius around the nest from other large or predatory birds [27,129,130,170]. Peregrine falcons attack any large bird that ventures too close to the nest, including great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), barn owls (Tyto alba), bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis), Cooper's hawks (Accipiter cooperii) ([20,79], (Walk and Schmitt 1977 personal communication cited in [170]), ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), great blue herons (Ardea herodias), cormorants (Phalacrocorax spp.), gulls (Larus spp.), [170], common ravens (Corvus corax), and turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) ([20,79], (Walk and Schmitt 1977 personal communication cited in [170]). Territorial defense often includes stooping (diving) at potential predators [27,79]. Favorite hunting stations, typically a high perch with sweeping views, and plucking stations, where captured prey is plucked or consumed, are defended as well [27]. An exception to this behavior was observed in arctic Alaska, where territories were established for nest defense but not for foraging [189]. In winter, peregrine falcons defend ledges that were used as prey observation points and plucking perches [1]. Territorial behavior is also displayed around favored hunting ranges and plucking sites in winter [1,190]. Winter defense is most aggressive within 1,000 feet (300 m) of the plucking perch [1].

In Alaska, an average of 3.4 to 3.5 miles (5.4-5.6 km) separated nesting pairs, with the closest pairs being 0.2 to 0.6 mile (0.3-1.0 km) apart (Swem and Ambrose 2002 personal communications cited in a review by [190]). The mean distance between peregrine falcon nests in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, was 2.1 miles (3.3 km), with a range of 0.4 to 6.1 miles (0.7 to 9.8 km) [42,43]. Territory size may be influenced by prey abundance [130]. Some breeding pairs on Langara Island, British Columbia, nested less than 0.25 mile (0.4 km) apart. Generally, there were no signs of aggression between breeding pairs on Langara Island, British Columbia, despite the close proximity of nests [11]. Distance between pairs in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, was 0.7 mile (1.1 km) or greater [188]. Since population density in a given area changes over time [21,42,44,45,116,130], territory size and distance between nesting pairs will likely fluctuate as well.

Conflicts between nesting peregrine falcons and other species nesting nearby are common [15,27]. However, tolerance of other species near the nesting territory varies widely. In Alaska, golden eagles are attacked more aggressively than other predatory birds, including hawks and other eagles (Accipitridae), owls (Tytonidae and Strigidae), gulls (Laridae), jaegers (Stercorarius spp.), and common ravens [27]. Peregrine falcons rarely nest in close proximity to golden eagles or gyrfalcons [27,190]. Peregrine falcons have a tumultuous relationship with great horned owls as well. The 2 species may nest close together with little conflict. At other times, conflicts between peregrine falcons and great horned owls may result in death of adults or young of either species (review by [190]). On the Los Padres National Forest, California, a peregrine falcon eyrie, red-tailed hawk nest, and great horned owl nest were in very close proximity. Skirmishes between the 3 species were frequent due to the closeness of the nests [79]. Peregrine falcons occasionally nest within 300 feet (90 m) of common ravens and hawks [27]. However, conflict between peregrine falcons and common ravens may decrease breeding success (review by [190]).

Peregrine falcons compete for nest sites with other raptors (review by [190]). For example, gyrfalcons may prevent peregrine falcons from using optimum nesting sites. In western Greenland, peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons occupied the same nesting sites during different years [26], so competition for nesting sites may exist between the 2 species where populations overlap. Prairie falcons may nest within close proximity to peregrine falcons [170], and nest competition between these species also occurs. Peregrine falcons may usurp prairie falcons from a desirable territory (review by [190]).

Both individuals of a breeding pair may remain near the nesting site in winter, but the birds tend to be solitary, occupying individual territories or feeding areas [144,189]. In nonmigratory populations, peregrine falcons may continue to inhabit the same general territory or occupy an area near the breeding territory during winter, but such behavior is highly variable. Maintenance of sedentary pair bonds in winter may be partially influenced by having sufficient prey available to feed both peregrine falcons [144].

  • 1. Albuquerque, Jorge L. B. 1984. The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in southern Brazil: aspects of winter ecology in an urban environment. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 23 p. Thesis. [70705]
  • 11. Beebe, Frank L. 1960. The marine peregrines of the northwest Pacific coast. The Condor. 62(3): 145-189. [76976]
  • 15. Bird, David M.; Aubry, Yves. 1982. Reproductive and hunting behavior in peregrine falcons, Falco peregrinus, in southern Quebec. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 96(2): 167–171. [70748]
  • 20. Bond, Richard M. 1946. The peregrine populations of western North America. The Condor. 48(3): 101–116. [70750]
  • 21. Bromley, Robert G. 1988. Status of peregrine falcons in the Kitikmeot, Baffin, and Keewatin regions, Northwest Territories, 1982-1985. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 51-57. [69545]
  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 42. Court, G. S.; Bradley, D. M.; Gates, C. C.; Boag, D. A. 1989. Turnover and recruitment in a tundra population of peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus. Ibis. 131: 487–496. [70774]
  • 43. Court, Gordon S.; Bradley, D. Mark; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. The population biology of peregrine falcons in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories, Canada. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 729-739. [69605]
  • 44. Court, Gordon S.; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. Natural history of the peregrine falcon in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories. Arctic. 41(1): 17–30. [70775]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 79. Greiman, Harley L. 1975. Nesting observations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus annatum), Los Padres National Forest, California. Goleta, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District. 41 p. [19360]
  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 129. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1970. Some aspects of the breeding behaviour of peregrine falcons on Langara Island, B.C. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 306 p. Thesis. [70710]
  • 130. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1977. Behavioral ecology of coastal peregrines (Falco peregrinus pealei). Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 490 p. Dissertation. [70743]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 170. Thelander, Carl G. 1977. The breeding status of peregrine falcons in California. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. 112 p. Thesis. [70712]
  • 188. White, Clayton M. 1975. Studies on peregrine falcons in the Aleutian Islands. In: Murphy, Joseph R.; White, Clayton M.; Harrell, Byron, eds. Population status of raptors: Proceedings of the conference on raptor conservation techniques; 1973 March 22-24; Fort Collins, CO. Raptor Research Report, No. 3. Vermillion, SD: Raptor Research Foundation: 33-50. [79574]
  • 189. White, Clayton M.; Cade, Tom J. 1971. Cliff-nesting raptors and ravens along the Colville River in arctic Alaska. Living Bird. 10: 107-150. [24513]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Flight

More info for the term: cover

Cruising flight speed for peregrine falcons typically ranges from 25 to 60 mph (40-97 kph) [28,40,41,108,144,191]. Flight while pursuing prey approaches speeds of 60 mph (100 kph) [108]. Maximum horizontal flapping flight is likely between 65 and 71 mph (105-115 kph) [28,61]. When migrating, peregrine falcons glide between thermals without needing to beat their wings, allowing minimal energy expenditure [40]. Observed air speeds of peregrine falcons gliding between thermals were 38 to 40 mph (62-64 kph) [40,41]. Low-altitude flapping flight is observed when thermals are absent [40]. Soaring peregrine falcons may reach 1,100 feet (330 m) in altitude [191]. Peregrine falcons migrate at low altitudes, typically flying less than 2,000 feet (600 m) above ground or water (Cochran 1985 cited in a review by [100], Kerlinger 1989 unpublished data cited in a review by [100]).

In one study, peregrine falcons migrating from North America to South America in fall averaged 107 miles (172 km) per day. Peregrine falcons migrating northward in spring averaged 123 miles (198 km)/day [74]. In another migration study, an immature male traveled 1,637 miles (2,634 km) over a 15-day period. On average, he traveled 111 miles (179 km)/day, including an average of 13 miles (21 km)/day of low-hunting flight. Under favorable conditions, the immature male traveled up to 200 miles (322 km)/day. His migratory flight averaged 21 mph (34 kph), with a range of 6.8 to 30.5 mph (10.9-49.1 kph). Migratory movements during inclement weather are limited. Little migratory flight is observed during low cloud cover and rain. Migratory flights may end early in strong winds. Peregrine falcons do not migrate into hurricanes [40].

  • 28. Cade, Tom J. 1982. Peregrine (great-footed falcon, duck hawk): Falco peregrinus. In: Cade, Tom J. The falcons of the world. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press: 58-68. [71355]
  • 40. Cochran, William W. 1975. Following a migrating peregrine from Wisconsin to Mexico. Hawk Chalk. 14(2): 28–37. [70772]
  • 61. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R. 1997. Wide ranging by nesting peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus ) determined by radiotelemetry. Journal of Raptor Research. 31(4): 333-338. [70786]
  • 108. Ledger, John. 1987. How fast a peregrine? Gabar. 2: 52. [70814]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 191. White, Clayton M.; Nelson, R. Wayne. 1991. Hunting ranges and strategies in a tundra breeding peregrine and gyrfalcon observed from a helicopter. Journal of Raptor Research. 25(3): 49–62. [70871]
  • 41. Cochran, William W.; Applegate, Roger D. 1986. Speed of flapping flight of merlins and peregrine falcons. The Condor. 88(3): 397-398. [77466]
  • 74. Fuller, Mark R.; Seegar, William S.; Schueck, Linda S. 1998. Routes and travel rates of migrating peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus and Swainson's hawks Buteo swainsoni in the Western Hemisphere. Journal of Avian Biology. 29(4): 433-440. [71039]
  • 100. Kerlinger, Paul. 1989. Flight strategies of migrating hawks. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 374 p. [76975]

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Communication and Perception

Peregrine falcons use a wide variety of vocalizations at different stages of life, but primarily during breeding seasons.

Most vocalizations are either between mated individuals, parents and offspring, or in antagonistic interactions.

Young beg for food with a call similar to: "screea, screea, screea."

"Cack" calls are usually used in alarm and nest defense. They are highly individual specific, with individual recognition possible in 72 to 90% of calls. The call is characterized as "kaa-a-aack, kaa-a-ack."

"Chitter" calls are used in several contexts and are a rapid succession of "chi chi chi chi's." Similarly, the eechip call occurs in a variety of contexts. It is characterized as "kee-u-chip", but the "chip" portion contains the highest energy and the "kee-u" portion is often left out.

When hunting, peregrine falcons will often give sharp, territorial calls in quick succession, "kee, kee kee...".

Postures are used to communicate aggression and appeasement. Raising the feathers and bill gaping are typical of aggressive posturing. Submission is indicated by the feathers being held tight to the body and the head held down, with beak averted.

Peregrine falcons have extraordinarily keen vision. They can see small objects from very far away and accurately fly at high speeds to capture them.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Vocalizations

Immature Birds

Four vocalizations are recognized including:

  1. Begging
  2. Playful Scream
  3. Cacking (threat/disturbance)
  4. Chitter Scream (extreme alarm)

Adults

Most vocalizations associated with nesting season (courthship through young-rearing). These include:

  1. Cack
  2. Chitter
  3. Eechip
  4. Wail

Listen to Some Vocalizations

Alarm Call - series of harsh "kak-kak-kak"

Courtship Vocalization

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Mary Hennen

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Cyclicity

Phenology

Timing of migrations, courtship, and breeding appears to be influenced by local weather and prey availability [27,43,68,82]. Peregrine falcon migrations closely parallel the migrations and breeding cycles of waterfowl, shorebird, and songbird prey [1,27,49,68,82,187]. Observations suggest that arrival to nesting sites and breeding in arctic climates corresponds to the break up of river ice in spring [5,43,122].

Timing of major peregrine falcon breeding events
Location Arrival Date Courtship/ Copulation Eggs Laid Hatching Fledging Departure Date
eastern Alaska 15 April No data No data No data No data No data (Ambrose 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190])
northern and interior Alaska mid-May No data late May to early June late June to late July (estimate) early to late August (estimate) late September or later (estimate) [27]
Yukon River, Alaska mid-April No data 11 May No data No data No data ([5], Ambrose 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190])
coastal southeastern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands No data No data early April to early May No data 15 June to 4 July No data ([27,188], White 2002 personal observation cited in a review by [190])
southwestern Alaska No data No data No data 12 June to 18 June (estimated means) No data No data [122]
Rankin Inlet, Nunavut 10-28 May No data 1-25 June 9-15 July  (estimate) 19-30 August  (estimate) Late September to early October [43,45]
Greenland
(60-77 °N)
last half of May No data late May to early June 23 June to 19 July 1 August to 6 September No data [68]
western Greenland mid- to late May No data late June No data No data late September ([26], Mattox 1983 unpublished report cited in [68])
southern Quebec 8-19 May 16 May to 7 June No data 6 July (estimate) 10-17 August 19-27 September [15]
Langara Island, British Columbia
(54 °N)
No data No data 28 March to mid-April 6-25May 17 June to 5 July No data [129,130]
San Juan Island, Washington (48 °N) No data No data 3-7 April No data No data No data
Seattle, Washington (47 °N) No data No data early to mid-March No data No data No data (Anderson 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190])
Los Padres NF, California No data 28 February 9 April 19-20 April 23 May No data [79]
northern California No data No data May; replacement clutches laid until September No data No data No data (Walton 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190])
southern and central-coastal California (about 33-34 °N) No data No data mid- to late February No data No data No data (Linthicum and Walton 2002 personal communications cited in a review by [190])
Yosemite NP, California (>2,000 m elevation; 37 °50 'N) No data No data late March to mid-April No data No data No data (Lithicum 2002 personal communication cited in a review by [190])
southern California No data 7 January 12 March to 26 April No data 18 May to 2 July No data [170]
Utah No data No data 22 March to mid-May No data No data No data [140]
Colorado late February to early March No data No data mid- to late May mid- to late June No data [173]
Maryland No data No data earliest record, approximately 12 February; typically late March to early April No data No data No data [194]
Sierra Madre Oriental, Mexico No data late February to mid-March No data No data No data No data [105]

Peregrine falcons in northern California reproduced later than pairs in southern California, but the difference was negligible [170].

  • 1. Albuquerque, Jorge L. B. 1984. The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in southern Brazil: aspects of winter ecology in an urban environment. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 23 p. Thesis. [70705]
  • 5. Ambrose, Skip; Ulvi, Steve. 1990. Peregrine falcon research in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska. Park Science. 10(4): 18-20. [14464]
  • 15. Bird, David M.; Aubry, Yves. 1982. Reproductive and hunting behavior in peregrine falcons, Falco peregrinus, in southern Quebec. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 96(2): 167–171. [70748]
  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 43. Court, Gordon S.; Bradley, D. Mark; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. The population biology of peregrine falcons in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories, Canada. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 729-739. [69605]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 68. Falk, Knud; Moller, Soren; Burnham, William A. 1986. The peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus in south Greenland: nesting requirements, phenology and prey selection. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift. 80: 113–120. [70791]
  • 79. Greiman, Harley L. 1975. Nesting observations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus annatum), Los Padres National Forest, California. Goleta, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District. 41 p. [19360]
  • 82. Harris, James T.; Clement, David M. 1975. Greenland peregrines at their eyries: A behavioral study of the peregrine falcon. Meddelelser om Gronland. 205(3). Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel. 28 p. [79571]
  • 105. Lanning, Dirk V.; Lawson, Peter W.; Hunt, W. Grainger. 1977. Ecology of the peregrine falcon in northeastern Mexico. In: Swanson, Winfield, ed. Research reports--National Geographic Society. 18: 377-388. [79572]
  • 122. Mindell, David P.; Dotson, Richard A. 1982. Distribution and abundance of nesting raptors in southwestern Alaska. In: Ladd, Wilbur N.; Schempf, Philip F., eds. Raptor management and biology in Alaska and western Canada: Proceedings of a symposium and workshop; 1981 February 17-20; Anchorage, AK. FWS/AK/PROC-82. Anchorage, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Regional Office: 112-137. [25660]
  • 129. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1970. Some aspects of the breeding behaviour of peregrine falcons on Langara Island, B.C. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 306 p. Thesis. [70710]
  • 130. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1977. Behavioral ecology of coastal peregrines (Falco peregrinus pealei). Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 490 p. Dissertation. [70743]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 170. Thelander, Carl G. 1977. The breeding status of peregrine falcons in California. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. 112 p. Thesis. [70712]
  • 173. Torres, John; Bissell, Steve; Craig, Gerald; Graul, Walter; Langlois David. 1978. Essential habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife in Colorado. Denver, CO: Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management Section. 84 p. [66642]
  • 187. White, Clayton M. 1969. Breeding Alaskan and arctic migrant populations of the peregrine. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: Their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 45-51. [75785]
  • 188. White, Clayton M. 1975. Studies on peregrine falcons in the Aleutian Islands. In: Murphy, Joseph R.; White, Clayton M.; Harrell, Byron, eds. Population status of raptors: Proceedings of the conference on raptor conservation techniques; 1973 March 22-24; Fort Collins, CO. Raptor Research Report, No. 3. Vermillion, SD: Raptor Research Foundation: 33-50. [79574]
  • 49. Dekker, Dick. 1984. Spring and fall migrations of peregrine falcons in central Alberta, 1979-1983, with comparisons to 1969-1978. Journal of Raptor Research. 18: 92–97. [70777]
  • 194. Wimsatt, William A. 1940. Early nesting of the duck hawk in Maryland. The Auk. 57: 109. [70875]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Comments: In general, much hunting occurs in morning, and to lesser extent toward evening, but may hunt anytime during day.

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Life Cycle

Life History

Nest is a scrape. Clutch size 2-6 (4 typical.) Eggs are pinkish cream to rust brown in color with one egg laid every 24-48 hours. Both adults incubate though females will do majority. Incubation lasts 30-32 days. Young fledge at 40-42 days old. One brood per year though may renest if original clutch fails. Breeding typically by 2 years though possible at 1 year old. Longevity 17-20 years.


Reference

  • Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye. 1988. The Birders Handbook. Fireside Publishing. 722 pages. (ISBN 0-671-65989-8)
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Most peregrine falcons (60%) do not survive their first year. Those who do have an average lifespan of 13 years. Maximum longevity records for wild birds is from 16 to 20 years old. The longest known lifespan for a captive peregrine falcon is 25 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
20 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
25 (high) years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
13 (high) years.

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Lifespan/Longevity

Though most peregrine falcons do not live to be 1 year old, a healthy falcon who survives lives an average of 13 years. Survival rates through the first year of life are estimated at 40%. Adult survivorship is estimated at 70%. Maximum longevity records for wild birds is from 16 to 20 years old. The longest known lifespan for a captive peregrine falcon is 25 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
20 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
25 (high) years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
13 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 25 years Observations: Theoretical IMR estimates suggest values in the range of 0.3-0.1 per year (http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/).
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Reproduction

Peregrine falcons form monogamous pair bonds that often last throughout many breeding seasons. Both males and females have a strong attachment to previous nesting sites, which may explain monogamy over multiple breeding seasons, rather than attachment between individuals.

Males display at nest ledges to attract females and advertise ownership to other falcons. The development of a pair bond is first indicated by the male and female roosting near each other. Eventually they sit at the nest ledge side by side. Individuals may also peep at each other, preen, nibble their mate's toes, or "bill" (gently grab the other bird's bill in their own). Both sexes may then engage in "ledge displays", centered on the area of their nest, or scrape. Prior to egg-laying, the pair will engage in incredible aerial displays, involving power dives, tight cornering, high soaring, and body rolls during a dive. Once the pair has formed, they begin to hunt cooperatively and females begin to beg for food from the male.

Mating System: monogamous

Peregrine falcons breed between March and May, depending on how far north they are breeding. Females usually lay their eggs in mid-May and they usually hatch in mid-June. Peregrine falcons lay one egg every 48 hours, for a total of from 2 to 6 eggs. Eggs are laid in a nest high on cliffs, tall trees, or tall buildings. Falcons make nests that are called 'scrapes', or simple small depressions dug into the sand or dirt and lined with fine materials. They may sometimes use nests that were built by other birds. Eggs hatch in 33 to 35 days. Young birds learn to fly 35 to 42 days after hatching. It typically takes 3 years for the young to reach adulthood and be able to breed. Females most frequently breed earlier than males.

Breeding interval: Falcons typically raise one clutch yearly, although in rare circumstances more than one clutch may be attempted. If a first clutch is lost soon after laying, another clutch will be attempted after about 2 weeks.

Breeding season: Peregrine falcons breed between March and May, depending on latitude.

Range eggs per season: 2 to 6.

Range time to hatching: 33 to 35 days.

Range fledging age: 35 to 42 days.

Average time to independence: 6 weeks.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 to 5 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 to 8 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

Average birth mass: 37.5 g.

Average eggs per season: 3.

Both parents incubate eggs and care for the young. Females generally incubate the eggs for greater proportions of the time than do males. Young are brooded almost continuously until they are 10 days old. Young birds remain dependent on their parents for several weeks after fledging. As the young become more adept at flying, parents begin to deliver prey to them by dropping them in the air. The young then pursue and capture this already-dead prey in the air. In migratory populations, young become independent at the onset of migration, usually around 5-6 weeks post-fledging. Young in non-migratory populations may be dependent for slightly longer.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Breeding behavior

More info for the term: cooperative breeding

Copulation in northern latitudes is typically brief and occurs shortly after peregrine falcons arrive at their nesting area [5,27]. Courtship in southern latitudes may last up to several months before eggs are laid [27]. Breeding behavior has been observed for peregrine falcons overwintering in Brazil [1], but details on whether nesting actually occurred at this time were not provided.

Both the male and female incubate and brood the young, but the female has the larger responsibility for brood care [15,82,129,144]. Males generally take on most of the hunting and defense role while eggs and nestlings are present. Both sexes provide food for young, particularly when brooding is no longer required [82]. Limited cooperative breeding has been observed (review by [190]).

Nonterritorial peregrine falcons are common in some populations [45,99] and may breed with resident birds following the death of their mates [128,132]. After its death, a breeding territorial bird is often replaced within 24 to 40 hours by an unmated individual [78,99]. Occasionally, multiple females may be found at a nest. Such individuals may be young birds that have not yet bred [132].

  • 1. Albuquerque, Jorge L. B. 1984. The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in southern Brazil: aspects of winter ecology in an urban environment. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 23 p. Thesis. [70705]
  • 5. Ambrose, Skip; Ulvi, Steve. 1990. Peregrine falcon research in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska. Park Science. 10(4): 18-20. [14464]
  • 15. Bird, David M.; Aubry, Yves. 1982. Reproductive and hunting behavior in peregrine falcons, Falco peregrinus, in southern Quebec. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 96(2): 167–171. [70748]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 78. Green, C. de B. 1916. Notes on the distribution and nesting-habits of Falco peregrinus pealei Ridgeway. Ibis. 10(4): 473-476. [77487]
  • 82. Harris, James T.; Clement, David M. 1975. Greenland peregrines at their eyries: A behavioral study of the peregrine falcon. Meddelelser om Gronland. 205(3). Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel. 28 p. [79571]
  • 99. Johnstone, Robin Mark. 1998. Aspects of the population biology of tundra peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus tundrius). Saskatoon, SK: University of Saskatchewan, Department of Veterinary Anatomy. 130 p. Dissertation. [70709]
  • 129. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1970. Some aspects of the breeding behaviour of peregrine falcons on Langara Island, B.C. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 306 p. Thesis. [70710]
  • 132. Newton, Ian. 1988. Population regulation in peregrines: an overview. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 761-770. [69607]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 128. Nelson, R. Wayne. 1990. Status of the peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus pealei, on Langara Island, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, 1968–1989. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 104(2): 193–199. [70829]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Reproductive biology

More info for the terms: density, phase

Peregrine falcons are generally monogamous, often creating the same pair bond in successive years [27,130,190]. However, observations of 1 male providing food to 2 females have been documented (Telford and Linthicum 2002 personal communications cited in a review by [190], Weir 1993 personal communication cited in [144]). Cases where a single male breeds with 2 females may end in failure of at least 1 nest [144]. Several cases of pseudopolyandry (1 female occupies the territories of 2 males) have also been observed [128,130]. Observations of extra-pair breeding are rare. Multiparentage has been documented in which some or all offspring in a nest did not share genes with one or both parents. These cases could be a result of polyandry, intraspecific brood parasitism, or loss of a resident bird and replacement by another mate during breeding [99].

Most peregrine falcons begin breeding at 2 to 4 years old [99,119,130,140,144,172,190]. However, age of first breeding may be related to population density and nest site availability [5]. Age at first breeding can be highly variable within the same population. For instance, at Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, average age for males breeding for the first time was 4 years (range: 2-8 years), and for females, 3 years (range: 3-5 years) [99]. Yearling females breed more often than yearling males, but both sexes may successfully breed as yearlings [119,172,183]. However, yearlings are often unsuccessful during their first breeding attempts [42]. Yearling females generally lay fewer eggs than adult females [89].

Mean clutch size of 3 to 4 eggs is typical for peregrine falcons [27,45,79,80,89,144,170]. Clutches containing up to 6 eggs have been reported [80,89]. Little variation in average clutch size appears to exist from one locality to another. Uncharacteristically, an average clutch size of 2.54 eggs was reported for a study in western Mexico [139]. However, it is unknown if this low clutch size is typical for the region. The mean number of nestlings and fledglings produced per nesting pair in North America varies by location.

Nestlings and fledglings per nesting peregrine falcon pair by location
Location Timeframe Mean # nestlings/
territorial pair
Mean # nestlings/
successful pair
Mean # fledglings/
territorial pair
Mean # fledglings/
successful pair
Alaska 1980-1985 1.3-3.0 2.3-3.3 No data No data [4]
Alaska 1949-1952; 1956-1959 2.5 No data 0.5-1.5 No data [27]
Aleutian Islands, Alaska 1970-1972 No data No data 1.77 2.66 [188]
Northwest Territories 1976-1985 2.0-2.21 2.2-2.94 No data No data [22,35]
Rankin Inlet, Nunavut 1981-1986 2.79 No data 0.5-2.3 2.4-3.1 [43,45]
western Greenland 1981-1985 2.3-2.6 3.0 No data No data [116]
inland western Greenland 1972-1981 1.80-2.88 2.25-3.25 No data No data [26]
southern Greenland 1981-1985 2.5-3.2 No data No data No data [67]
Ungava Bay, Quebec 1980-1985 2.32-2.85 2.36-3.21 No data No data [17]
Langara Island, British Columbia 1980-1989 1.60-3.33 2.00-3.33 No data No data [128]
Langara Island, British Columbia 1968-1975 No data No data 1.76 2.32 [130]
upper Midwest, southern Manitoba, and Ontario 1982-2000 2.0-2.4 2.7-2.7 No data No data [171,172]
Idaho 1984 0 0 No data No data
Wyoming 1985 3.0 3.0 No data No data [62]
California 1975-1976 No data No data 1.6-2.0 No data [170]
Utah 1985 1.2 2.0 No data No data
Arizona 1976-1985 No data No data 1.4-2.6 2.0-2.6 [58]
New Mexico 1984 2.2 2.9 No data No data
Texas and north-central Mexico 1980-1985 0.2-1.5 1.0-3.0 No data No data [94]
western Mexico 1976-1984 2.17 No data 1.74 No data [139]
Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental, Mexico 1975-1982 0.7-1.6 1.7-2.5 No data No data [94,105]

One brood is produced per year (review by [190]). However, renesting may occur if all eggs or nestlings are lost after the initial attempt or disturbance causes the breeding pair to abandon the nest [86,89,144]. A different nesting site, often on the same cliff, is typically selected for renesting [138,144]. A pair in New Mexico chose the eyrie used the previous year when attempting to renest [138]. On average, replacement clutches may contain fewer eggs than the clutch laid first [89]. For example, initial clutches in California contained an average of 3.7 eggs/nest, while replacement clutches contained an average of 3.5 eggs/nest [170]. The short breeding season in the Arctic may reduce the possibility of a 2nd nesting attempt if the first clutch fails [89].

Nesting success in the same region is highly variable between sites and years [4,22,35]. Not all nestlings counted survive and fledge [17]. Peregrine falcons that breed at favorable sites tend to be more successful at fledging young [99].

The interval between each egg lain is approximately 48 to 72 hours. The interval between the 2nd-last and last egg is typically longest [27,140,144,190]. Incubation often does not begin until the 3rd egg is laid [144]. Incubation periods vary between 28 and 37 days [105,140,144,170]. Asynchronous hatching is common [27,45,140]. Age at fledging is 35 to 53 days [39,105,129,144,170]. Males may grow flight feathers 3 to 5 days before females. Females continue to grow during the nestling phase of development to ultimately reach a larger body size than males [11].

Both adults and young may remain at the eyrie for several months after fledging. Fledgling dependence may continue until migration (5-6 weeks after fledging) [27,158]. Nonmigratory peregrine falcons may have a dependency period of 9 to 10 weeks. Hacked peregrine falcons (those raised in captivity then released into the wild) disperse approximately 4 to 6 weeks after fledging, although later dispersals have been recorded [158]. Siblings may form hunting groups after fledging and before migration [27].

Weather appears to influence reproductive success for peregrine falcons [43,128]. Years with unusually low reproductive success are typically associated with cool, wet springs that reduce prey abundance or hinder hunting [132] and directly impact nestling survival [43]. Poor spring weather can delay the onset of nesting [45]. Peregrine falcon pairs may abandon breeding attempts in years of low food availability [93].

  • 4. Ambrose, Robert E.; Ritchie, Robert J.; White, Clayton M.; Schempf, Philip F.; Swem, Ted; Dittrick, Robert. 1988. Changes in the status of peregrine falcon populations in Alaska. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 73-82. [69553]
  • 5. Ambrose, Skip; Ulvi, Steve. 1990. Peregrine falcon research in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska. Park Science. 10(4): 18-20. [14464]
  • 11. Beebe, Frank L. 1960. The marine peregrines of the northwest Pacific coast. The Condor. 62(3): 145-189. [76976]
  • 17. Bird, David M.; Weaver, James D. 1988. Peregrine falcon populations in Ungava Bay, Quebec, 1980-1985. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 45-49. [69544]
  • 22. Bromley, Robert G.; Matthews, Steven B. 1988. Status of the peregrine falcon in the Mackenzie River Valley, Northwest Territories, 1969-1985. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 59-63. [69546]
  • 26. Burnham, William A.; Mattox, William G. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddeelelser om Gronland, Bioscience. 14(1984): 1–28. [70758]
  • 27. Cade, Tom J. 1961. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 63: 151–290. [70760]
  • 35. Calef, George W.; Heard, Douglas C. 1979. Reproductive success of peregrine falcons and other raptors at Wager Bay and Melville Peninsula, Northwest Territories. The Auk. 96: 662–674. [70765]
  • 39. Carter, Kristina Marie. 2003. Food habits, reproductive status, habitat use, and behavior of peregrine falcon in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 99 p. Thesis. [71017]
  • 42. Court, G. S.; Bradley, D. M.; Gates, C. C.; Boag, D. A. 1989. Turnover and recruitment in a tundra population of peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus. Ibis. 131: 487–496. [70774]
  • 43. Court, Gordon S.; Bradley, D. Mark; Gates, C. Cormack; Boag, David A. 1988. The population biology of peregrine falcons in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories, Canada. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 729-739. [69605]
  • 45. Court, Gordon Stuart. 1986. Some aspects of the reproductive biology of tundra peregrine falcons. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 121 p. Thesis. [70708]
  • 58. Ellis, David H. 1988. Distribution, productivity, and the status of the peregrine falcon in Arizona. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 87-94. [69555]
  • 67. Falk, Knud; Moller, Soren. 1988. Status of the peregrine falcon in South Greenland: population density and reproduction. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 37-43. [69543]
  • 79. Greiman, Harley L. 1975. Nesting observations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus annatum), Los Padres National Forest, California. Goleta, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District. 41 p. [19360]
  • 80. Hagar, Joseph A. 1969. History of the Massachusetts peregrine falcon population, 1935-57. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 123-131. [75789]
  • 86. Herbert, Richard A.; Herbert, Kathleen Green Skelton. 1969. The extirpation of the Hudson River peregrine falcon population. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 133-154. [75790]
  • 93. Hunt, W. Grainger. 1998. Raptor floaters at Moffat's equilibrium. Oikos. 82(1): 191-197. [77465]
  • 94. Hunt, W. Grainger; Enderson, James H.; Lanning, Dirk; Hitchcock, Mark A.; Johnson, Brenda S. 1988. Nesting peregrines in Texas and northern Mexico. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 115-121. [69558]
  • 99. Johnstone, Robin Mark. 1998. Aspects of the population biology of tundra peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus tundrius). Saskatoon, SK: University of Saskatchewan, Department of Veterinary Anatomy. 130 p. Dissertation. [70709]
  • 105. Lanning, Dirk V.; Lawson, Peter W.; Hunt, W. Grainger. 1977. Ecology of the peregrine falcon in northeastern Mexico. In: Swanson, Winfield, ed. Research reports--National Geographic Society. 18: 377-388. [79572]
  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 119. Mearns, R.; Newton, I. 1984. Turnover and dispersal in a peregrine Falco peregrinus population. Ibis. 126: 347–355. [70822]
  • 129. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1970. Some aspects of the breeding behaviour of peregrine falcons on Langara Island, B.C. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 306 p. Thesis. [70710]
  • 130. Nelson, Robert Wayne. 1977. Behavioral ecology of coastal peregrines (Falco peregrinus pealei). Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. 490 p. Dissertation. [70743]
  • 132. Newton, Ian. 1988. Population regulation in peregrines: an overview. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 761-770. [69607]
  • 138. Ponton, David A. 1983. Nest site selection by peregrine falcons. Raptor Research. 17(1): 27–28. [70839]
  • 139. Porter, Richard D.; Jenkins, M. Alan; Kirven, Monte N.; Anderson, Daniel W.; Keith, James O. 1988. Status and reproductive performance of marine peregrines in Baja California and the Gulf of California, Mexico. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 105-114. [69557]
  • 140. Porter, Richard D.; White, Clayton. 1973. The peregrine falcon in Utah, emphasizing ecology and competition with the prairie falcon. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin--Biological Series. 18(1): 1-74. [70841]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 158. Sherrod, Steve K. 1983. Behavior of fledgling peregrines. Ithaca, NY: The Peregrine Fund, Inc. 202 p. [76974]
  • 170. Thelander, Carl G. 1977. The breeding status of peregrine falcons in California. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. 112 p. Thesis. [70712]
  • 172. Tordoff, Harrison B.; Redig, Patrick T. 1997. Midwest peregrine falcon demography, 1982–1995. Journal of Raptor Research. 31(4): 339–346. [70864]
  • 188. White, Clayton M. 1975. Studies on peregrine falcons in the Aleutian Islands. In: Murphy, Joseph R.; White, Clayton M.; Harrell, Byron, eds. Population status of raptors: Proceedings of the conference on raptor conservation techniques; 1973 March 22-24; Fort Collins, CO. Raptor Research Report, No. 3. Vermillion, SD: Raptor Research Foundation: 33-50. [79574]
  • 62. Enderson, James H.; Craig, Gerald R.; Burnham, William A. 1988. Status of peregrines in the Rocky Mountains and Colorado Plateau. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 83-86. [69554]
  • 89. Hickey, Joseph J.; Anderson, Daniel W. 1969. The peregrine falcon: life history and population literature. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 3-42. [13722]
  • 128. Nelson, R. Wayne. 1990. Status of the peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus pealei, on Langara Island, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, 1968–1989. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 104(2): 193–199. [70829]
  • 183. Wendt, Annie M.; Septon, Greg A. 1991. Notes on a successful nesting by a pair of yearling peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus). Journal of Raptor Research. 25(1): 21–22. [70867]
  • 171. Tordoff, Harrison B.; Martell, Mark S.; Redig, Patrick T.; Solensky, Matthew J. 2000. Midwest peregrine falcon restoration, 2000 report, [Online]. In: Midwest Peregrine Society--Annual reports. St. Paul, MN: Midwest Peregrine Society (Producer). Available: http://www.midwestperegrine.org/ [2010, April 26]. [70863]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]

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Peregrine falcons form monogamous pair bonds that often last throughout many breeding seasons. Both males and females have a strong attachment to previous nesting sites, which may explain monogamy over multiple breeding seasons, rather than attachment between individuals.

Males display at nest ledges to attract females and advertise ownership to other falcons. The development of a pair bond is first indicated by the male and female roosting near each other. Eventually they sit at the nest ledge side by side. Individuals may also peep at each other, preen, nibble their mate's toes, or "bill" (gently grab the other bird's bill in their own). Both sexes may then engage in "ledge displays", centered on the area of their nest, or scrape. Prior to egg-laying, the pair will engage in incredible aerial displays, involving power dives, tight cornering, high soaring, and body rolls during a dive. Once the pair has formed, they begin to hunt cooperatively and females begin to beg for food from the male.

Mating System: monogamous

Peregrine falcons breed between March and May, depending on how far north they are breeding. Females usually lay their eggs in mid-May and they usually hatch in mid-June. Peregrine falcons lay one egg every 48 hours, for a total of from 2 to 6 eggs. Eggs are laid in a nest high on cliffs, tall trees, or tall buildings. Falcons make nests that are called 'scrapes', or simple small depressions dug into the sand or dirt and lined with fine materials. They may sometimes use nests that were built by other birds. Eggs hatch in 33 to 35 days. Young birds learn to fly 35 to 42 days after hatching. It typically takes 3 years for the young to reach adulthood and be able to breed. Females most frequently breed earlier than males.

Breeding interval: Falcons typically raise one clutch yearly, although in rare circumstances more than one clutch may be attempted. If a first clutch is lost soon after laying, another clutch will be attempted after about 2 weeks.

Breeding season: Peregrine falcons breed between March and May, depending on latitude.

Range eggs per season: 2 to 6.

Range time to hatching: 33 to 35 days.

Range fledging age: 35 to 42 days.

Average time to independence: 6 weeks.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 to 5 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 to 8 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

Average birth mass: 37.5 g.

Average eggs per season: 3.

Both parents incubate eggs and care for the young. Females generally incubate the eggs for greater proportions of the time than do males. Young are brooded almost continuously until they are 10 days old. Young birds remain dependent on their parents for several weeks after fledging. As the young become more adept at flying, parents begin to deliver prey to them by dropping them in the air. The young then pursue and capture this already-dead prey in the air. In migratory populations, young become independent at the onset of migration, usually around 5-6 weeks post-fledging. Young in non-migratory populations may be dependent for slightly longer.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Clutch size averages 4 at mid-latitudes, 3 in far north. Incubation lasts 32-35 days, mainly by female (male brings food). Young fledge at 39-49 days, gradually become independent. First breeds usually at 2-3 years, occasionally as yearling. Usually lifelong pair bond. Replaces lost clutches, usually at alternate site. Brood losses apparently caused mainly by bad weather. See many further details in Palmer (1988). In northwestern Arizona, mean distance between centers of nesting areas was around 6-8 km (Brown et al. 1992).

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Evolution and Systematics

Systematics or Phylogenetics

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, SubPhylum: Vertebrata, Class: Aves, Order: Falconiformes, Family:Falconidae, Subfamily: Falconinae, Genus: Falco, Species: peregrinus

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Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Nostril cone allows air passage: peregrine falcon
 

Cone in peregrine falcon nostril allows air to enter by disrupting airflow.

   
  "Falcons are known for their high speed flight, and the Peregrine is thought to be the fastest bird, accurately clocked at 90 meters per second. A contender is the Prairie Falcon. Incidentally, in the making of airplanes, especially jets, humans came onto a problem. As planes got faster and faster, the engines started choking out at a certain speed. It seems that the air, instead of going into the cowl of the engine, encountered a wall of still air and engine cowl and so split and went around the engine. Puzzled, the researchers wondered how the falcons could still breathe at such incredible speeds. Looking at the falcon's nostrils, they found the answer. In the opening of the nostril is a small cone that protrudes a bit. Fashioning a similar cone in the opening of the jet engine, they discovered that the air could pass into the engine even at great speed. Once again a human invention is preceded by an animal adaptation." (Chaffee Zoo 2007)

"The air pressure from a 200 mph (320 km/h) dive could possibly damage a bird's lungs, but small bony tubercles in a falcon's nostrils guide the shock waves of the air entering the nostrils (compare intake ramps and inlet cones of jet engines), enabling the bird to breathe more easily while diving by reducing the change in air pressure." (Wikipedia 2008)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
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Physiology and Cell Biology

Cell Biology

Chromosomal Data

Information on Peregrine genome size (n50) can be obtained through the Animal Genome Size Database. This online database is a comprehensive collection of animal genome data. Similar databases exist for plants (Plant DNA C-values Database) and Fungi (Fungal Genome Size Database).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Falco peregrinus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 16
Specimens with Barcodes: 27
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Falco peregrinus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 10 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGATGACTATTTTCAACAAACCACAAAGACATCGGCACCCTATACCTACTCTTCGGAGCATGAGCAGGCATAGTCGGTACTGCCCTTAGCCTCCTTATTCGAACAGAACTTGGCCAACCAGGAACTCTCCTAGGAGAT---GACCAAATCTACAATGTCATCGTCACTGCCCATGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTTTTCATAGTTATACCCATTATGATCGGAGGATTTGGAAACTGACTAGTTCCCCTTATAATTGGAGCTCCAGACATAGCATTTCCCCGCATAAACAACATGAGTTTCTGACTACTCCCCCCATCCTTCCTACTGCTCCTAGCATCTTCCACAGTAGAAGCTGGAGTTGGAACAGGATGAACCGTATACCCCCCCTTAGCAGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCCGGTGCTTCAGTAGACCTGGCCATCTTCTCCCTACACCTTGCAGGTGTATCTTCCATCTTAGGGGCAATCAACTTTATCACAACAGCCATTAACATAAAACCACCCGCCCTATCACAGTACCAAACCCCACTATTCGTATGATCCGTACTTATTACCGCCGTACTCCTACTGCTCTCACTTCCAGTTCTGGCCGCTGGCATCACCATACTACTAACCGACCGAAACCTGAACACTACATTCTTCGACCCCGCCGGAGGGGGAGACCCTATTCTCTATCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTCGGCCACCCAGAAGTTTATATCCTAATCCTCCCAGGCTTTGGAATCATCTCACACGTAGTAACATATTACGCAGGTAAAAAAGAACCATTCGGCTATATAGGAATAGTCTGAGCTATACTATCAATTGGATTCCTAGGCTTTATCGTATGAGCCCATCACATATTTACCGTAGGAATAGATGTAGATACCCGAG
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetic researchers are able to use microsatellite markers to study nest fidelity of breeding Peregrines. With DNA from adults and chicks, scientists can determine the relatedness of siblings, potentially confirm extra-pair copulation, polygamous behavior, and egg-dumping.


Reference

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Conservation

The magnitude of loss for Peregrines worldwide reached its peak by the 1960's. Breeding populations in North America were 10% of historic levels and in the UK numbers were reduced by an estimated 80%. While various factors such as habitat destruction, egg collecting & illegal hunting of the species contributed to the decline, the predominant cause was the buildup of organo-chlorines—DDT and its byproducts—in the birds. These accumulated chemicals caused addling of eggs, abnormal reproductive behavior in adults, and thinning of shells, which led to egg breakage.

By the 1970's, governments banned the use of DDT and the Peregrine Falcon was given protective status. Aided by the reintroduction of Peregrines through a process called hacking, wild populations recovered.

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Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N3B,N3N : N3B: Vulnerable - Breeding, N3N: Vulnerable - Nonbreeding

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4B,N4N : N4B: Apparently Secure - Breeding, N4N: Apparently Secure - Nonbreeding

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Peregrine falcons have suffered due to their position atop the food chain. One reason is that pesticides accumulate and concentrate as they travel up the food chain. Small birds and mammals might eat small amounts of pesticides. It's not enough to kill them, but it builds up in their bodies. But when a falcon eats lots of these animals, the pesticides become concentrated in the falcons. This can kill them, or make it hard to reproduce. Some pesticides (like DDT and dieldrin) reduce the birds' ability to produce strong eggshells. This makes the egg shells thin and more likely to break, which means less baby birds hatch out.

Because of pesticides and other factors, peregrine falcon populations dropped quickly and dangerously in the middle of the 20th century. All breeding pairs vanished in the eastern United States. A successful captive breeding and reintroduction program, combined with restrictions in pesticide use, has been the basis of an amazing recovery by peregrine falcons. The use of many of the most harmful chemicals is restricted in the USA. However, it is not yet restricted in Central and South American where many peregrines spend the winter. Those peregrines may still be in danger.

After having been on the endangered species list since 1969, the incredible recovery of peregrine falcons has become an example of how effective conservation measures can be. In the 1990's they were taken off the US federal list of endangered species. However, they are still listed as endangered in the state of Michigan.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix i

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Although delisted from its federal status as an endangered species, legal protections provided under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and state laws still apply [121]. Information on state- and province-level protection status of animals in the United States and Canada is available at NatureServe, although recent changes in status may not be included.
  • 121. Mesta, Robert. 1999. 50 CFR Part 17: Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; final rule to remove the American peregrine falcon from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife, and to remove the similarity of appearance provision for free-flying peregrines in the conterminous United States; Final rule, [Online]. Federal Register. 64(164): 46542-46558. Wednesday, August 25, 199--Rules and regulations. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (Producer). Available: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/federal_register/fr3444.pdf [2010, April 29]. [68668]

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U.S. Federal Legal Status

Species-level status:
None [179]

Subspecies status:
American peregrine falcon: Recovery
arctic peregrine falcon: Recovery [179]

In 1999, the US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final ruling to remove the peregrine falcon from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, thereby removing all federal protections under the Endangered Species Act [121].

  • 121. Mesta, Robert. 1999. 50 CFR Part 17: Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; final rule to remove the American peregrine falcon from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife, and to remove the similarity of appearance provision for free-flying peregrines in the conterminous United States; Final rule, [Online]. Federal Register. 64(164): 46542-46558. Wednesday, August 25, 199--Rules and regulations. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (Producer). Available: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/federal_register/fr3444.pdf [2010, April 29]. [68668]
  • 179. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Endangered Species. 2013. Threatened and endangered animals and plants, [Online]. Available: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/wildlife.html. [62042]

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Peregrine falcons have suffered due to their dangerous position atop the food chain. Pesticides accumulate in small (not lethal) quantities in the tissues of small birds and mammals, but become concentrated enough in predatory birds, such as falcons, to kill them or render them incapable of producing offspring. Organochlorine pesticides (DDT and dieldrin) have been proven to reduce the birds' ability to produce eggshells with sufficient calcium content, making the egg shells thin and more likely to break. Peregrine falcon populations dropped precipitously in the middle of the 20th century. All breeding pairs vanished in the eastern United States. A successful captive breeding and reintroduction program, combined with restrictions in pesticide use, has been the basis of an amazing recovery by peregrine falcons. Now the use of many of the chemicals most harmful to these birds is restricted. However, it is not yet restricted in Central and South American where many subspecies spend the winter. After having been on the endangered species list since 1969, the incredible recovery of peregrine falcons has become a perfect example of how effective human conservation can be. In the 1990s they were taken off the federal list of endangered species in the United States. They are still listed as endangered in the state of Michigan.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix i

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Status in Egypt

Regular passage visitor and winter visitor.

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Widespread, with increasing populations in many areas. Since the early 1970s, captive breeding and reintroduction programs have had some success in North America, and reproductive failure due to pesticide contamination has been reduced so that it is no longer a serious threat in most areas. Populations in North America have recovered in some areas and are increasing in most other areas. Populations increasing in northern Eurasia.

Other Considerations: Large scale captive breeding programs have produced many birds for reintroduction.

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Population

Population
The global population is estimated to number c.1,200,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2004), while population estimates include: c.100-100,000 breeding pairs and c.50-10,000 wintering individuals in China; < c.100 breeding pairs, c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs in Korea; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Population Trend
Stable
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Global Short Term Trend: Increase of 10 to >25%

Comments: Populations in the Northern Hemisphere declined drastically from the 1940s to the 1970s due to DDT and its breakdown products, notably DDE, in the environment. During the 1930s and 1940s there were at least 200 breeding pairs in the eastern United States. By the mid-1960s these were all inactive (U.S. Fish and Wildlife 1993). Populations were reduced by an estimated 80-90% in the western U.S. by the mid-1970s; the decline in Alaska probably was no more than 50% (The Peregrine Fund 1992). Populations have been recovering, aided by reintroductions in some areas. In the early 1980s, continent-wide population was stable, but local increases and declines were continuing (see White et al. [1990] for 1980 status in specific areas). See also Cade et al. (1988) and Palmer (1988). Eastern U.S. population was about 210 active nests and 350 pairs in the 1930s and 1940s; population dropped to zero breeders by the mid-1960s, largely the result of eggshell thinning caused by pesticide and PCB poisoning. Populations increased after U.S. DDT ban and initiation of reintroduction efforts. Populations in Alaska, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories evidently have recovered. In interior Alaska, numbers increased about 3-fold from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s; pesticide levels have been decreasing and in the early 1990s were well below levels at which reproduction is impaired. Populations increased from 1985 to 1990 in the Yukon Territory, but full occupancy of the historic range had not yet occurred. Populations in the Mackenzie River valley increased from 1985 to 1990, but little is known of population trends in the boreal forest east of the Mackenzie valley (USFWS 1991). Subspecies TUNDRIUS: In the Northwest Territories, populations are stable or increasing in all surveyed areas (e.g., see Shank et al. 1993); some organochlorine contamination remains, but falcons are reproducing well. In Quebec, breeding performance and habitat occupancy have increased greatly since the 1970s. Overall, in Canada, populations are stable or increasing (Holroyd and Banasch 1995), and there is a continuing danger of organochlorine contamination (Bromley, 1992 COSEWIC report). In Greenland, habitat occupancy had increased to about 90% in 1990 (USFWS 1991). See USFWS (1993) for additional documentation of the recovery of this subspecies. In Alaska, the number of pairs of subspecies ANATUM and TUNDRIUS both have more than doubled in some areas, without the aid of releases (The Peregrine Fund 1992). Censuses indicate that subspecies TUNDRIUS throughout its range (USFWS 1994) and subspecies ANATUM in Alaska and the Yukon and Northwest Territories have recovered. A significant increase was recorded in migration counts in northeastern North America, 1972-1987 (Titus and Fuller 1990). With the exception of the central and western prairie provinces, reported to have recovered throughout much of Canada (The Peregrine Fund 1992). Stable or increasing in northern and western Canada; numbers remain low in southern Canada (Murphy 1990); subspecies PEALEI (breeds along British Columbia and Alaska coasts) and subspecies TUNDRIUS (breeds in arctic, winters in Latin America) seem secure (Peakall 1990). The Peregrine Fund (1992) recommended that the peregrine, including both subspecies in Alaska be delisted in all western states except Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming (where a change to Threatened status was recommended). Subspecies CALIDUS: Declined in northern Eurasia during period of intensive organochlorine pesticide use, but now increasing (Quinn and Kokorev 2000).

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Threats

Degree of Threat: B : Moderately threatened throughout its range, communities provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure of the community over the long-term, but are apparently recoverable

Comments: Threats include loss of wetland habitat of primary prey, poachers robbing nests, shooting by hunters, and food chain contamination from use of persistent pesticides. Pesticide-caused reproductive failure now apparently is rare or absent in northern populations, though organochlorine levels in the environment are still high in some areas (e.g., New Mexico, Hubbard and Schmitt 1988; see also Peakall 1990; see Banasch et al. 1992 for information on contaminants in prey in Panama, Venezuela, and Mexico). Court (1993) studied the eggs of F. p. anatum in Alberta, Canada between 1983 and 1992, and found that high DDE levels still occurred in some eggs, and that 28 percent of the eggs were still thinner than critical thicknesses considered essential for successful reproduction.

Also, eggshell thickness in New Jersey declined in the 1980s, suggesting that falcons continue to be exposed to environmental contaminants (Steidl et al. 1991). Reintroduced populations in some areas of the eastern U.S. (e.g., barrier islands of the mid-Atlantic states) may be threatened by increasing human disturbance and use of nesting habitat (Byrd and Johnston 1991).

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
The tree-nesting population in central and eastern Europe declined from c. 4,000 pairs to extirpation, before restoration efforts in Germany and Poland returned it to c. 20 pairs. Significant further efforts are needed to fully restore it across its former range, which included Germany, Poland, Russia, Belarus and the Baltic States (European Peregrine Falcon Working Group in litt. 2007).

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Management Considerations

From the 1950s to the mid-1970s, global peregrine falcon population declines resulted from eggshell thinning and embryo mortality due to use of organochlorine pesticides, particularly DDT and DDE, in agriculture and forestry [101,134,137,190]. No known breeding pairs were present in the eastern United States by the mid-1960s [9]. Adult mortality during the same time period was linked to the insecticides aldrin and dieldrin [134]. Risebrough and Peakall [148] concluded that dieldrin played a more substantial role in peregrine falcon decline in Britain than it did in North America. In the 1970s, peregrine falcons were placed on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (review by [190]).

Recovery of peregrine falcon populations began after DDT and similar pesticides were banned in 1972 [137]. Intensive reintroduction efforts began throughout the United States and elsewhere to promote population recoveries [9,32,55]. Populations in North America were increasing at a rate of 2.9% to 25% per year between 1974 and 2000, partially due to reintroduction efforts [30,46,64,151]. Nesting sites in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland were increasingly occupied between 1980 and 1985 compared to previous decades, with some nesting territories consistently used from year to year [4,17,21,22,67,116,125]. Nesting success was higher in western Mexico from 1976 to 1985 compared to 1968 to 1974 [139]. These findings demonstrate the recovery of peregrine falcons in those areas. By 1999, populations within the United States had recovered sufficiently to prompt the US Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the peregrine falcon [121]. Despite recovery efforts in the United States, peregrine falcons migrating to Central and South America or areas where DDT or similar pesticides are still used may continue to accumulate pesticide residues [85].

Disturbances that may have contributed to the peregrine falcon decline include destruction of wetlands, construction of roads and other structures, poaching, removal of eggs and nestlings from nests, disturbance from recreational activities, and climate change [101]. Because peregrine falcons use a wide range of habitats and landscapes, the effects of habitat degradation are difficult to assess. The greatest effects are likely due to losses of nesting sites, which may be limited. Migrating and wintering peregrine falcons are often attracted to wetlands where shorebirds and waterfowl are abundant. Loss of wetlands would be detrimental for peregrine falcons that winter in these areas. Peregrine falcon response to agricultural development is variable. Because agricultural practices attract potential prey, peregrine falcons may benefit from agriculture (review by [190]). In contradiction, Young [198] asserted that peregrine falcons may decline as a result of agricultural development because peregrine falcons frequently utilize undisturbed riparian areas, forests, or other undisturbed habitats. Peregrine falcon response to agricultural activities likely depends on the level of human disturbance and prey availability [198].

Human disturbance may disrupt the reproductive behavior of peregrine falcons [57,86]. Rock climbing and other recreational activities pose a threat to peregrine falcons [144]. The Peregrine Falcon Recovery Plan, produced by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, discourages any land use practices that may disturb the habitat or prey base of peregrine falcons within a 10-mile (16 km) radius of an active nest [117]. Sonic booms may distress peregrine falcons. At an eyrie on the Los Padres National Forest, California, 2 adult peregrine falcons responded to a sonic boom by flying around and "screaming" for a short period [79]. However, effects of jet overflights on nesting behavior were minimal in Alaska [136]. Ellis [57] recommended that recreational activities and human development be minimized whenever peregrine falcons occupy an area. Stephenson and Calcarone [165] concluded that protecting nesting sites from human disturbance is critical for peregrine falcon conservation.

Timing of disturbance of nest sites seems critical [144]. Nesting peregrine falcons are intolerant of excessive human disturbance; they may abandon a nesting site during courtship and move to another ledge or cliff if possible. Breeding pairs may attempt to continue nesting if eggs or nestlings are being brooded [144,173], but often, the nest is deserted [144]. Desertion of an eyrie with eggs usually only occurs after frequent or prolonged disturbance that keeps the adults from incubating eggs for long periods of time [144,187,192]. Peregrine falcon young can perish in harsh environments if the parents, panicked by human disturbance, are away from the nest for long periods [187]. Peregrine falcons nest successfully in cities and other areas with high human activity if humans do not interfere with or harass the peregrine falcons [144].

Additional details on the reintroduction, recovery, and management of peregrine falcons in North America can be found in chapters 51 to 57 of Cade and others [31].
  • 4. Ambrose, Robert E.; Ritchie, Robert J.; White, Clayton M.; Schempf, Philip F.; Swem, Ted; Dittrick, Robert. 1988. Changes in the status of peregrine falcon populations in Alaska. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 73-82. [69553]
  • 9. Barclay, John H.; Cade, Tom J. 1983. Restoration of the peregrine falcon in the eastern United States. Bird Conservation. 1: 3–37. [70746]
  • 17. Bird, David M.; Weaver, James D. 1988. Peregrine falcon populations in Ungava Bay, Quebec, 1980-1985. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 45-49. [69544]
  • 21. Bromley, Robert G. 1988. Status of peregrine falcons in the Kitikmeot, Baffin, and Keewatin regions, Northwest Territories, 1982-1985. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 51-57. [69545]
  • 22. Bromley, Robert G.; Matthews, Steven B. 1988. Status of the peregrine falcon in the Mackenzie River Valley, Northwest Territories, 1969-1985. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 59-63. [69546]
  • 30. Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Kiff, Lloyd F.; White, Clayton M. 1997. Are there enough good data to justify de-listing the American peregrine falcon? Wildlife Society Bulletin. 25(3): 730-738. [77470]
  • 31. Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. 1988. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc. 949 p. [68895]
  • 32. Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M. 1988. Commentary: The role of organochlorine pesticides in peregrine population changes. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 463-468. [69585]
  • 46. Craig, Gerald R.; White, Gary C.; Enderson, James H. 2004. Survival, recruitment, and rate of population change of the peregrine falcon population in Colorado. Journal of Wildlife Management. 68(4): 1032-1038. [71029]
  • 55. Dzialak, Matthew Richard. 2003. Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus, reintroduction in cliff habitat in Kentucky. Kexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 219 p. Dissertation. [71016]
  • 57. Ellis, David H. 1982. The peregrine falcon in Arizona: habitat utilization and management recommendations. Institute for Raptor Studies: Research Reports. No. 1. 24 p. [70782]
  • 64. Enderson, James H.; Heinrich, William; Kiff, Lloyd; White, Clayton M. 1995. Population changes in North American peregrines. Transactions, 60th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. 60: 142-161. [70788]
  • 67. Falk, Knud; Moller, Soren. 1988. Status of the peregrine falcon in South Greenland: population density and reproduction. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 37-43. [69543]
  • 79. Greiman, Harley L. 1975. Nesting observations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus annatum), Los Padres National Forest, California. Goleta, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District. 41 p. [19360]
  • 85. Henny, Charles J.; Seegar, William S.; Maechtle, Thomas L. 1996. DDE decrease in plasma of spring migrant peregrine falcons, 1978-94. Journal of Wildland Management. 60(2): 342-349. [70797]
  • 86. Herbert, Richard A.; Herbert, Kathleen Green Skelton. 1969. The extirpation of the Hudson River peregrine falcon population. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 133-154. [75790]
  • 101. Kiff, Lloyd F. 1988. Changes in the status of the peregrine in North America: an overview. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 123-139. [68664]
  • 116. Mattox, William G.; Seegar, William S. 1988. The Greenland peregrine falcon survey, 1972-1985, with emphasis on recent population status. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 27-36. [69542]
  • 125. Munro, William T.; van Drimmelen, Benjamin. 1988. Status of peregrines in the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 69-72. [69552]
  • 134. Nisbet, Ian C. T. 1988. The relative importance of DDE and dieldrin in the decline of peregrine falcon populations. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 351-375. [69563]
  • 136. Palmer, Angela G.; Nordmeyer, Dana L.; Roby, Daniel D. 2003. Effects of jet aircraft overflights on parental care of peregrine falcons. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 31(2): 499-509. [71035]
  • 137. Peakall, David B.; Kiff, Lloyd F. 1988. DDE contamination in peregrines and American kestrels and its effect on reproduction. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 337-350. [69562]
  • 139. Porter, Richard D.; Jenkins, M. Alan; Kirven, Monte N.; Anderson, Daniel W.; Keith, James O. 1988. Status and reproductive performance of marine peregrines in Baja California and the Gulf of California, Mexico. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 105-114. [69557]
  • 144. Ratcliffe, Derek. 1993. The peregrine falcon. 2nd ed. London: T. and A. D. Poyser. 454 p. [70844]
  • 148. Risebrough, Robert W.; Peakall, David B. 1988. The relative importance of the several organochlorines in the decline of peregrine falcon populations. In: Cade, Tom J.; Enderson, James H.; Thelander, Carl G.; White, Clayton M., eds. Peregrine falcon populations: Their management and recovery. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc: 449-462. [69584]
  • 151. Rowell, Petra; Holroyd, Geofrey L.; Banasch, Ursula. 2003. The 2000 Canadian peregrine falcon survey. Journal of Raptor Research. 37(2): 98-116. [71033]
  • 165. Stephenson, John R.; Calcarone, Gena M. 1999. Potentially vulnerable species: animals. In: Stephenson, John R.; Calcarone, Gena M. Southern California mountains and foothills assessment: Habitat and species conservation issues. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-172. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 111-222. [35522]
  • 173. Torres, John; Bissell, Steve; Craig, Gerald; Graul, Walter; Langlois David. 1978. Essential habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife in Colorado. Denver, CO: Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management Section. 84 p. [66642]
  • 187. White, Clayton M. 1969. Breeding Alaskan and arctic migrant populations of the peregrine. In: Hickey, Joseph J., ed. Peregrine falcon populations: Their biology and decline. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 45-51. [75785]
  • 198. Young, Leonard S. 1989. Effects of agriculture on raptors in the western United States: an overview. In: Pendleton, B. G., ed. Proceedings of the western raptor management symposium and workshop; 1987 October 26-28; Boise, ID. Scientific and Technical Series No. 12. Washington, DC: National Wildlife Federation: 209-218. [22649]
  • 117. McAllister, C.; Beckert, H.; Abrams, C.; Bilyard, G.; Cadwell, K.; Friant, S.; Glantz, C.; Mazaika, R.; Miller, K. 1996. Survey of ecological resources at selected U.S. Department of Energy sites, [Online]. Oak Ridge, TN: U.S. Department of Energy (Producer). Available: http://homer.ornl.gov/oepa/guidance/risk/ecores.pdf [2004, January 21]. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [46457]
  • 121. Mesta, Robert. 1999. 50 CFR Part 17: Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; final rule to remove the American peregrine falcon from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife, and to remove the similarity of appearance provision for free-flying peregrines in the conterminous United States; Final rule, [Online]. Federal Register. 64(164): 46542-46558. Wednesday, August 25, 199--Rules and regulations. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (Producer). Available: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/federal_register/fr3444.pdf [2010, April 29]. [68668]
  • 190. White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Gainger. 2002. Peregrine falcon--Falco peregrinus, [Online]. In: Poole, A., ed. The birds of North America online. No. 660. Ithica, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Producer). Available: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 [2008, August 7]. DOI:10.2173/bna.660. [70507]
  • 192. Whitlock, Clair M.; Kastelic, Joseph P.; Johnson, Theodore Alan; Haertel, Paul; Roberts, Alvin Y.; Settles, Raymond L.; Filkins, Elgin E.; Norum, Rodney A.; Kelleyhouse, David G.; Williams, Thomas D. 1979. The Fortymile Interim Fire Management Plan. Fairbanks, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Fairbanks District Office. 97 p. [Prepared by the Fire Subcommittee of the Alaska Land Managers Cooperative Task Force]. [21231]

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Management Requirements: Potholes dug into cliffs are readily accepted as nest sites in some areas.

Reintroduction using captive-raised birds (thousands have been released) has been partially successful, more so in the U.S. than in Canada (Peakall 1990). See Holroyd and Banasch (1990) for summary of results of reintroductions in southern Canada and recommendations to improve future release efforts. See Sherrod et al. (1982) for information on reintroduction methods. See The Peregrine Fund (1992) for a recent summary of release data. See also Cade et al. (1988).

See Skaggs et al. (1988) and Lefranc and Glinski (1988) for management recommendations for the southwestern U.S.

See Johnson (1988) for responses to various human stimuli at different distances from nesting areas.

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Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Protected in the United States and Canada under the Migratory Bird Treaty and endangered species legislation. Hundreds of EOs are in wildlife refuges, national, state, and provincial parks, and remote wilderness areas. The arctic peregrine is currently listed under Appendix 1 of The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international agreement that restricts trade in rare and endangered species. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, has the largest nesting population on a single land management unit in the contiguous U.S. (Brown et al. 1992).

Needs: Continue efforts to protect birds from environmental contaminants.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Birds of prey are sometimes accused of killing farm animals, such as chickens. The numbers of farm animals killed by birds of prey is of minor economic consequence when compared to their contributions to pest control.

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Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Peregrine falcons (and predatory birds in general) are a great asset to many farmers, killing millions of crop-destroying animals and insects.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Birds of prey are sometimes accused of killing farm animals, such as chickens. The numbers of farm animals killed by birds of prey is of minor economic consequence when compared to their contributions to pest control.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Peregrine falcons (and predatory birds in general) are a great asset to many farmers, killing millions of crop-destroying animals and insects.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Economic Uses

Comments: Has been widely used for falconry.

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Relation to Humans

Peregrines have been used an an environmentally friendly alternative (rather than poison) means of scaring away nonwanted bird species. For instance, airports have enlisted the aid of falconers and their birds in attempting to scare off gulls and other birds that can be hazardous to airplanes taking off and landing. Also, the University of Alberta has researched using a fake Peregrine and radar activated cannon in keeping other birds from oil sands mining areas.

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Wikipedia

Peregrine Falcon

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as the Peregrine,[2] and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America,[3] 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". As is typical of bird-eating raptors, Peregrine Falcons are sexually dimorphic, females being considerably larger than males.[4][5] The Peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching over 322 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop (high speed dive),[6] making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom.[7][8] According to a National Geographic TV programme, the highest measured speed of a Peregrine Falcon is 389 km/h (242 mph).[9][10]

The Peregrine's breeding range includes land regions from the Arctic tundra to the tropics. It can be found nearly everywhere on Earth, except extreme polar regions, very high mountains, and most tropical rainforests; the only major ice-free landmass from which it is entirely absent is New Zealand. This makes it the world's most widespread raptor[11] and one of the most widely found bird species. In fact, the only land-based bird species found over a larger geographic area is not always naturally occurring but one widely introduced by humans, the Rock Pigeon, which in turn now supports many Peregrine populations as a prey species. Both the English and scientific names of this species mean "wandering falcon", referring to the migratory habits of many northern populations. Experts recognize 17 to 19 subspecies which vary in appearance and range; there is disagreement over whether the distinctive Barbary Falcon is represented by two subspecies of Falco peregrinus, or is a separate species, F. pelegrinoides.

While its diet consists almost exclusively of medium-sized birds, the Peregrine will occasionally hunt small mammals, small reptiles, or even insects. Reaching sexual maturity at one year, it mates for life and nests in a scrape, normally on cliff edges or, in recent times, on tall human-made structures.[12] The Peregrine Falcon became an endangered species in many areas because of the widespread use of certain pesticides, especially DDT. Since the ban on DDT from the early 1970s, populations have recovered, supported by large-scale protection of nesting places and releases to the wild.[13]

Description[edit]

The Peregrine Falcon has a body length of 34 to 58 centimetres (13–23 in) and a wingspan from 74 to 120 centimetres (29–47 in).[4][14] The male and female have similar markings and plumage, but as in many birds of prey the Peregrine Falcon displays marked reverse sexual dimorphism in size, with the female measuring up to 30% larger than the male.[15] Males weigh 330 to 1,000 grams (0.73–2.20 lb) and the noticeably larger females weigh 513 to 1,500 grams (1.131–3.307 lb). In most races, males weigh less than 700 grams (1.5 lb) and females weigh more than 800 grams (1.8 lb), with cases of females weighing about 50% more than their male breeding mates not uncommon.[16][5][17] The standard linear measurements of Peregrines are: the wing chord measures 26.5–39 cm (10.4–15.4 in), the tail measures 13–19 cm (5.1–7.5 in) and the tarsus measures 4.5 to 5.6 cm (1.8 to 2.2 in).[18]

The back and the long pointed wings of the adult are usually bluish black to slate grey with indistinct darker barring (see "Subspecies" below); the wingtips are black.[14] The white to rusty underparts are barred with thin clean bands of dark brown or black.[19] The tail, coloured like the back but with thin clean bars, is long, narrow, and rounded at the end with a black tip and a white band at the very end. The top of the head and a "moustache" along the cheeks are black, contrasting sharply with the pale sides of the neck and white throat.[20] The cere is yellow, as are the feet, and the beak and claws are black.[21] The upper beak is notched near the tip, an adaptation which enables falcons to kill prey by severing the spinal column at the neck.[4][5][6] The immature bird is much browner with streaked, rather than barred, underparts, and has a pale bluish cere and orbital ring.[4]

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

Illustration by John James Audubon

Falco peregrinus was first described under its current binomial name by English ornithologist Marmaduke Tunstall in his 1771 work Ornithologia Britannica.[22] The scientific name Falco peregrinus is a Medieval Latin phrase that was used by Albertus Magnus in 1225. The specific name taken from the fact that juvenile birds were taken while journeying to their breeding location rather than from the nest, as falcon nests were difficult to get at.[23] The Latin term for falcon, falco, is related to falx, the Latin word meaning sickle, in reference to the silhouette of the falcon's long, pointed wings in flight.[6]

The Peregrine Falcon belongs to a genus whose lineage includes the hierofalcons[24] and the Prairie Falcon (F. mexicanus). This lineage probably diverged from other falcons towards the end of the Late Miocene or in the Early Pliocene, about 5–8 million years ago (mya). As the Peregrine-hierofalcon group includes both Old World and North American species, it is likely that the lineage originated in western Eurasia or Africa. Its relationship to other falcons is not clear; the issue is complicated by widespread hybridization confounding mtDNA sequence analyses; for example a genetic lineage of the Saker Falcon (F. cherrug) is known[25] which originated from a male Saker producing fertile young with a female Peregrine ancestor, and the descendants further breeding with Sakers.[26]

Today, Peregrines are regularly paired in captivity with other species such as the Lanner Falcon (F. biarmicus) to produce the "perilanner", a somewhat popular bird in falconry as it combines the Peregrine's hunting skill with the Lanner's hardiness, or the Gyrfalcon to produce large, strikingly coloured birds for the use of falconers. As can be seen, the Peregrine is still genetically close to the hierofalcons, though their lineages diverged in the Late Pliocene (maybe some 2.5–2 mya in the Gelasian).[27]

Subspecies[edit]

Numerous subspecies of Falco peregrinus have been described, with 19 accepted by the 1994 Handbook of the Birds of the World,[4][5][28] which considers the Barbary Falcon of the Canary Islands and coastal north Africa to be two subspecies (pelegrinoides and babylonicus) of Falco peregrinus, rather than a distinct species, F. pelegrinoides. The following map shows the general ranges of these 19 subspecies:

A map of the world, green shows on several continents, but there are also several big bare spots marked with E for extinct.
Breeding ranges of the subspecies
F. p. anatum in flight, Morro Bay, California
  • Falco peregrinus anatum, described by Bonaparte in 1838,[29] is known as the American Peregrine Falcon, or "Duck Hawk"; its scientific name means "Duck Peregrine Falcon". At one time, it was partly included in leucogenys. It is mainly found in the Rocky Mountains today. It was formerly common throughout North America between the tundra and northern Mexico, where current reintroduction efforts seek to restore the population.[29] Most mature anatum, except those that breed in more northern areas, winter in their breeding range. Most vagrants that reach western Europe seem to belong to the more northern and strongly migratory tundrius, only considered distinct since 1968. It is similar to peregrinus but is slightly smaller; adults are somewhat paler and less patterned below, but juveniles are darker and more patterned below. Males weigh 500 to 700 grams (1.1–1.5 lb), while females weigh 800 to 1,100 grams (1.8–2.4 lb).[17] It has become extinct in eastern North America, and populations there are hybrids as a result of reintroductions of birds from elsewhere.[30]
Painting of F. p. babylonicus by John Gould
Juvenille of subspecies ernesti in Mount Mahawu, North Sulawesi Indonesia
Adult of subspecies pealei or tundrius by its nest in Alaska
  • Falco peregrinus babylonicus, described by P.L. Sclater in 1861, is found in eastern Iran along the Hindu Kush and Tian Shan to Mongolian Altai ranges. A few birds winter in northern and northwestern India, mainly in dry semi-desert habitats.[31] It is paler than pelegrinoides, and somewhat similar to a small, pale Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus). Males weigh 330 to 400 grams (12 to 14 oz), while females weigh 513 to 765 grams (18.1 to 27.0 oz).[5]
  • Falco peregrinus brookei, described by Sharpe in 1873, is also known as the Mediterranean Peregrine Falcon or the Maltese Falcon.[32] It includes caucasicus and most specimens of the proposed race punicus, though others may be pelegrinoides, Barbary Falcons (see also below), or perhaps the rare hybrids between these two which might occur around Algeria. They occur from the Iberian Peninsula around the Mediterranean, except in arid regions, to the Caucasus. They are non-migratory. It is smaller than the nominate subspecies, and the underside usually has rusty hue.[19] Males weigh around 445 grams (0.981 lb), while females weigh up to 920 grams (2.03 lb).[5]
  • Falco peregrinus calidus, described by John Latham in 1790, was formerly called leucogenys and includes caeruleiceps. It breeds in the Arctic tundra of Eurasia, from Murmansk Oblast to roughly Yana and Indigirka Rivers, Siberia. It is completely migratory, and travels south in winter as far as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It is often seen around wetland habitats.[33] It is paler than peregrinus, especially on the crown. Males weigh 588 to 740 grams (1.296–1.631 lb), while females weigh 925 to 1,333 grams (2.039–2.939 lb).[5]
  • Falco peregrinus cassini, described by Sharpe in 1873, is also known as the Austral Peregrine Falcon. It includes kreyenborgi, the Pallid Falcon[34] a leucistic morph occurring in southernmost South America, which was long believed to be a distinct species.[35] Its range includes South America from Ecuador through Bolivia, northern Argentina, and Chile to Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands.[19] It is non-migratory. It is similar to nominate, but slightly smaller with a black ear region. The variation kreyenborgi is medium grey above, has little barring below, and has a head pattern like the Saker Falcon, but the ear region is white.[35]
  • Falco peregrinus ernesti, described by Sharpe in 1894, is found from Indonesia to Philippines and south to Papua New Guinea and the nearby Bismarck Archipelago. Its geographical separation from nesiotes requires confirmation. It is non-migratory. It differs from the nominate subspecies in the very dark, dense barring on its underside and its black ear coverts.
  • Falco peregrinus furuitii, described by Momiyama in 1927, is found on the Izu and Ogasawara Islands south of Honshū, Japan. It is non-migratory. It is very rare, and may only remain on a single island.[4] It is a dark form, resembling pealei in colour, but darker, especially on tail.[19]
  • Falco peregrinus japonensis, described by Gmelin in 1788, includes kleinschmidti, pleskei, and harterti, and seems to refer to intergrades with calidus. It is found from northeast Siberia to Kamchatka (though it is possibly replaced by pealei on the coast there) and Japan. Northern populations are migratory, while those of Japan are resident. It is similar to peregrinus, but the young are even darker than those of anatum.
F. p. macropus, Australia
  • Falco peregrinus macropus, described by Swainson in 1837, is the Australian Peregrine Falcon. It is found in Australia in all regions except the southwest. It is non-migratory. It is similar to brookei in appearance, but is slightly smaller and the ear region is entirely black. The feet are proportionally large.[19]
  • Falco peregrinus madens, described by Ripley and Watson in 1963, is unusual in having some sexual dichromatism. If the Barbary Falcon (see below) is considered a distinct species, it is sometimes placed therein. It is found in the Cape Verde Islands, and is non-migratory;[19] it is endangered with only six to eight pairs surviving.[4] Males have a rufous wash on crown, nape, ears, and back; underside conspicuously washed pinkish-brown. Females are tinged rich brown overall, especially on the crown and nape.[19]
F. p. minor, illustration by Keulemans, 1874
  • Falco peregrinus minor, first described by Bonaparte in 1850. It was formerly often perconfusus.[36] It is sparsely and patchily distributed throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and widespread in Southern Africa. It apparently reaches north along the Atlantic coast as far as Morocco. It is non-migratory, crow-sized, and dark coloured.
Captive Falco peregrinus pealei
  • Falco peregrinus pelegrinoides, first described by Temminck in 1829, is found in the Canary Islands through north Africa and the Near East to Mesopotamia. It is most similar to brookei, but is markedly paler above, with a rusty neck, and is a light buff with reduced barring below. It is smaller than the nominate subspecies; females weigh around 610 grams (1.34 lb).[5]
  • Falco peregrinus peregrinator, described by Sundevall in 1837, is known as the Indian Peregrine Falcon, Black Shaheen, Indian Shaheen [41] or Shaheen Falcon.[42] It was formerly sometimes known as Falco atriceps or Falco shaheen. Its range includes South Asia from Pakistan across India and Bangladesh to Sri Lanka and Southeastern China. In India, the Shaheen is reported from all states except Uttar Pradesh, mainly from rocky and hilly regions. The Shaheen is also reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.[31] It has a clutch size of 3 to 4 eggs, with the chicks fledging time of 48 days with an average nesting success of 1.32 chicks per nest. In India, apart from nesting on cliffs, it has also been recorded as nesting on man-made structures such as buildings and cellphone transmission towers.[31] A population estimate of 40 breeding pairs in Sri Lanka was made in 1996.[43] It is non-migratory, and is small and dark, with rufous underparts. In Sri Lanka this species is found to favour the higher hills while the migrant calidus is more often seen along the coast.[44]
  • Falco peregrinus peregrinus, the nominate (first-named) subspecies, described by Tunstall in 1771, breeds over much of temperate Eurasia between the tundra in the north and the Pyrenees, Mediterranean region and Alpide belt in the south.[29] It is mainly non-migratory in Europe, but migratory in Scandinavia and Asia. Males weigh 580 to 750 grams (1.28–1.65 lb), while females weigh 925 to 1,300 grams (2.039–2.866 lb).[5] It includes brevirostris, germanicus, rhenanus, and riphaeus.
  • Falco peregrinus submelanogenys, described by Mathews in 1912, is the Southwest Australian Peregrine Falcon. It is found in southwest Australia and is non-migratory.
  • Falco peregrinus tundrius, described by C.M. White in 1968, was at one time included in leucogenys It is found in the Arctic tundra of North America to Greenland, and migrates to wintering grounds in Central and South America.[40] Most vagrants that reach western Europe belong to this subspecies, which was previously united with anatum. It is the New World equivalent to calidus. It is smaller than anatum. It is also paler than anatum; most have a conspicuous white forehead and white in ear region, but the crown and "moustache" are very dark, unlike in calidus.[40] Juveniles are browner, and less grey, than in calidus, and paler, sometimes almost sandy, than in anatum. Males weigh 500 to 700 grams (1.1–1.5 lb), while females weigh 800 to 1,100 grams (1.8–2.4 lb).[17]

Barbary Falcon[edit]

Two of the subspecies listed above (Falco peregrinus pelegrinoides and F. p. babylonicus) are often instead treated together as a distinct species, Falco pelegrinoides (Barbary Falcon),[5] although they were included within F. peregrinus in the 1994 Handbook of the Birds of the World.[4] These birds inhabit arid regions from the Canary Islands along the rim of the Sahara through the Middle East to Central Asia and Mongolia.

Barbary Falcons have a red neck patch but otherwise differ in appearance from the Peregrine proper merely according to Gloger's Rule, relating pigmentation to environmental humidity.[45] The Barbary Falcon has a peculiar way of flying, beating only the outer part of its wings like fulmars sometimes do; this also occurs in the Peregrine, but less often and far less pronounced.[5] The Barbary Falcon's shoulder and pelvis bones are stout by comparison with the Peregrine, and its feet are smaller.[46] Barbary Falcons breed at different times of year than neighboring Peregrine Falcon subspecies,[5][28][47][48][49][50][51] but there are no postzygotic reproduction barriers in place.[52] There is a 0.6–0.7% genetic distance in the Peregine-Barbary Falcon ("peregrinoid") complex.[47]

Another subspecies of Falco peregrinus, madens, has also sometimes been treated instead within a separately recognized F. pelegrinoides.[19]

Ecology and behaviour[edit]

Closeup of head showing nostril tubercle
Flying in California, USA
Silhouette in normal flight (left) and at the start of a stoop (right)

The Peregrine Falcon lives mostly along mountain ranges, river valleys, coastlines, and increasingly in cities.[19] In mild-winter regions, it is usually a permanent resident, and some individuals, especially adult males, will remain on the breeding territory. Only populations that breed in Arctic climates typically migrate great distances during the northern winter.[53]

The Peregrine Falcon reaches faster speeds than any other animal on the planet when performing the stoop,[7] which involves soaring to a great height and then diving steeply at speeds of over 320 km/h (200 mph), hitting one wing of its prey so as not to harm itself on impact.[6] The air pressure from a 200 mph (320 km/h) dive could possibly damage a bird's lungs, but small bony tubercles on a falcon's nostrils guide the powerful airflow away from the nostrils, enabling the bird to breathe more easily while diving by reducing the change in air pressure.[54] To protect their eyes, the falcons use their nictitating membranes (third eyelids) to spread tears and clear debris from their eyes while maintaining vision. A study testing the flight physics of an "ideal falcon" found a theoretical speed limit at 400 km/h (250 mph) for low altitude flight and 625 km/h (390 mph) for high altitude flight.[55] In 2005, Ken Franklin recorded a falcon stooping at a top speed of 389 km/h (242 mph).[9]

The life span of Peregrine Falcons in the wild is up to 15.5 years.[5] Mortality in the first year is 59–70%, declining to 25–32% annually in adults.[5] Apart from such anthropogenic threats as collision with human-made objects, the Peregrine may be killed by eagles or large owls.[56]

The Peregrine Falcon is host to a range of parasites and pathogens. It is a vector for Avipoxvirus, Newcastle disease virus, Falconid herpesvirus 1 (and possibly other Herpesviridae), and some mycoses and bacterial infections. Endoparasites include Plasmodium relictum (usually not causing malaria in the Peregrine Falcon), Strigeidae trematodes, Serratospiculum amaculata (nematode), and tapeworms. Known Peregrine Falcon ectoparasites are chewing lice,[57] Ceratophyllus garei (a flea), and Hippoboscidae flies (Icosta nigra, Ornithoctona erythrocephala).[58]

Feeding[edit]

An immature Peregrine eating its prey on the deck of a ship

The Peregrine Falcon feeds almost exclusively on medium-sized birds such as pigeons and doves, waterfowl, songbirds, and waders.[21] Worldwide, it is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 bird species (up to roughly a fifth of the world's bird species) are predated somewhere by these falcons. In North America, prey has varied in size from 3-g hummingbirds (Selasphorus and Archilochus ssp.) to a 3.1-kg Sandhill Crane (killed in Alaska by a peregrine in a swoop), although most prey taken by Peregrines weigh from 20 grams (0.71 oz) (i.e. small passerines) to 1,100 grams (2.4 lb) (i.e. ducks and gulls).[59][60] The Peregrine Falcon takes the most diverse range of bird species of any raptor in North America, with more than 300 species having fallen victim to the falcon, including nearly 100 shorebirds.[61] Smaller raptors are regularly predated, mainly smaller falcons such as the American Kestrel, Merlin and Sharp-shinned Hawks.[62][63] In urban areas, the main component of the Peregrine's diet is the Rock or Feral Pigeon, which comprise 80% or more of the dietary intake for peregrines in some cities. Other common city birds are also taken regularly, including Mourning Doves, Common Wood Pigeons, Common Swifts, Northern Flickers, Common Starlings, American Robins, Common Blackbirds, and corvids (such as magpies or Carrion, House, and American Crows).[64] Other than bats taken at night,[64] the Peregrine rarely hunts mammals, but will on occasion take small species such as rats, voles, hares, shrews, mice and squirrels. Coastal populations of the large subspecies pealei feed almost exclusively on seabirds.[20] In the Brazilian mangrove swamp of Cubatão, a wintering falcon of the subspecies tundrius was observed while successfully hunting a juvenile Scarlet Ibis.[65] Insects and reptiles make up a small proportion of the diet, which varies greatly depending on what prey is available.[21]

The Peregrine Falcon hunts most often at dawn and dusk, when prey are most active, but also nocturnally in cities, particularly during migration periods when hunting at night may become prevalent. Nocturnal migrants taken by Peregrines include species as diverse as Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Black-necked Grebe, Virginia Rail, and Common Quail.[64] The Peregrine requires open space in order to hunt, and therefore often hunts over open water, marshes, valleys, fields, and tundra, searching for prey either from a high perch or from the air.[66] Large congregations of migrants, especially species that gather in the open like shorebirds, can be quite attractive to hunting Peregrines. Once prey is spotted, it begins its stoop, folding back the tail and wings, with feet tucked.[20] Prey is typically struck and captured in mid-air; the Peregrine Falcon strikes its prey with a clenched foot, stunning or killing it with the impact, then turns to catch it in mid-air.[66] If its prey is too heavy to carry, a Peregrine will drop it to the ground and eat it there. If they miss the initial strike, Peregrines will chase their prey in a twisting flight.[67] Although previously thought rare, several cases of Peregrines contour-hunting, i.e. using natural contours to surprise and ambush prey on the ground, have been reported and even rare cases of prey being pursued on foot. Prey is plucked before consumption.[54]

Reproduction[edit]

At nest, France

The Peregrine Falcon is sexually mature at one to three years of age, but in healthy populations they breed after two to three years of age. A pair mates for life and returns to the same nesting spot annually. The courtship flight includes a mix of aerial acrobatics, precise spirals, and steep dives.[14] The male passes prey it has caught to the female in mid-air. To make this possible, the female actually flies upside-down to receive the food from the male's talons.

During the breeding season, the Peregrine Falcon is territorial; nesting pairs are usually more than 1 km (0.62 mi) apart, and often much farther, even in areas with large numbers of pairs.[68] The distance between nests ensures sufficient food supply for pairs and their chicks. Within a breeding territory, a pair may have several nesting ledges; the number used by a pair can vary from one or two to seven in a 16 year period.

The Peregrine Falcon nests in a scrape, normally on cliff edges. The female chooses a nest site, where she scrapes a shallow hollow in the loose soil, sand, gravel, or dead vegetation in which to lay eggs. No nest materials are added.[14] Cliff nests are generally located under an overhang, on ledges with vegetation. South-facing sites are favoured.[20] In some regions, as in parts of Australia and on the west coast of Northern North America, large tree hollows are used for nesting. Before the demise of most European peregrines, a large population of peregrines in central and western Europe used the disused nests of other large birds.[21] In remote, undisturbed areas such as the Arctic, steep slopes and even low rocks and mounds may be used as nest sites. In many parts of its range, Peregrines now also nest regularly on tall buildings or bridges; these human-made structures used for breeding closely resemble the natural cliff ledges that the Peregrine prefers for its nesting locations.[4][68]

The pair defends the chosen nest site against other Peregrines, and often against ravens, herons, and gulls, and if ground-nesting, also such mammals as foxes, wolverines, felids, bears and wolves.[68] Both nests and (less frequently) adults are predated by larger-bodied raptorial birds like eagles, large owls, or Gyrfalcons. Peregrines defending their nests have managed to kill raptors as large as Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles (both of which they normally avoid as potential predators) that have come too close to the nest.[69]

The date of egg-laying varies according to locality, but is generally from February to March in the Northern Hemisphere, and from July to August in the Southern Hemisphere, although the Australian subspecies macropus may breed as late as November, and equatorial populations may nest anytime between June and December. If the eggs are lost early in the nesting season, the female usually lays another clutch, although this is extremely rare in the Arctic due to the short summer season. Generally three to four eggs, but sometimes as few as one or as many as five, are laid in the scrape.[70] The eggs are white to buff with red or brown markings.[70] They are incubated for 29 to 33 days, mainly by the female,[20] with the male also helping with the incubation of the eggs during the day, but only the female incubating them at night. The average number of young found in nests is 2.5, and the average number that fledge is about 1.5, due to the occasional production of infertile eggs and various natural losses of nestlings.[4][54][56]

After hatching, the chicks (called "eyases"[71]) are covered with creamy-white down and have disproportionately large feet.[68] The male (called the "tiercel") and the female (simply called the "falcon") both leave the nest to gather prey to feed the young.[54] The hunting territory of the parents can extend a radius of 19 to 24 km (12–15 miles) from the nest site.[72] Chicks fledge 42 to 46 days after hatching, and remain dependent on their parents for up to two months.[73]

Relationship with humans[edit]

Falconry[edit]

Tame peregrine striking a red grouse, by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1920)

The Peregrine Falcon has been used in falconry for more than 3,000 years, beginning with nomads in central Asia.[68] Due to its ability to dive at high speeds, it is highly sought-after and generally used by experienced falconers.[15] Peregrine Falcons are also occasionally used to scare away birds at airports to reduce the risk of bird-plane strikes, improving air-traffic safety,[74] and were used to intercept homing pigeons during World War II.[75]

Peregrine Falcons have been successfully bred in captivity, both for falconry and for release back into the wild.[76] Until 2004 nearly all Peregrines used for falconry in the US were captive-bred from the progeny of falcons taken before the US Endangered Species Act was enacted and from those few infusions of wild genes available from Canada and special circumstances. Peregrine Falcons were removed from the United States' endangered species list in 1999. The successful recovery program was aided by the effort and knowledge of falconers – in collaboration with The Peregrine Fund and state and federal agencies – through a technique called hacking. Finally, after years of close work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a limited take of wild Peregrines was allowed in 2004, the first wild Peregrines taken specifically for falconry in over 30 years. Since Peregrine eggs and chicks are still often targeted by illegal collectors,[77] it is common practice not to publicize unprotected nest locations.[78]

Decline due to pesticides[edit]

The Peregrine Falcon became an endangered species because of the use of organochlorine pesticides, especially DDT, during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.[79] Pesticide biomagnification caused organochlorine to build up in the falcons' fat tissues, reducing the amount of calcium in their eggshells. With thinner shells, fewer falcon eggs survived to hatching.[66][80] In several parts of the world, such as the eastern United States and Belgium, this species became extirpated (locally extinct) as a result.[73] An alternate point of view is that populations in the eastern North America had vanished due to hunting and egg collection.[30]

Recovery efforts[edit]

In the United States, Canada, Germany and Poland, wildlife services in Peregrine Falcon recovery teams breed the species in captivity.[81] The chicks are usually fed through a chute or with a hand puppet mimicking a Peregrine's head, so they cannot see to imprint on the human trainers.[53] Then, when they are old enough, the rearing box is opened, allowing the bird to train its wings. As the fledgling gets stronger, feeding is reduced forcing the bird to learn to hunt. This procedure is called hacking back to the wild.[82] To release a captive-bred falcon, the bird is placed in a special cage at the top of a tower or cliff ledge for some days or so, allowing it to acclimate itself to its future environment.[82]

Worldwide recovery efforts have been remarkably successful.[81] The widespread restriction of DDT use eventually allowed released birds to breed successfully.[53] The Peregrine Falcon was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species list on August 25, 1999.[53][83]

Some controversy has existed over the origins of captive breeding stock used by The Peregrine Fund in the recovery of peregrine falcons throughout the contiguous United States. Several peregrine subspecies were included in the breeding stock, including birds of Eurasian origin. Due to the extirpation of the Eastern anatum (Falco peregrinus anatum), the near extirpation of the anatum in the Midwest, and the limited gene pool within North American breeding stock, the inclusion of non-native subspecies was justified to optimize the genetic diversity found within the species as a whole.[84]

The Peregrine by J A Baker[edit]

This book by John Alec Baker[85][86] was first published in 1967 and recounts in diary form his observations of peregrines (and their interaction with other birds) near his home in Chelmsford, Essex, England, over a single winter from October to April (probably the very cold winter of 1962/3). It is widely regarded as masterpiece of nature writing. Mark Cocker, for example, regards the book as "one of the most outstanding books on nature in the twentieth century".[87] Cocker continues, "There is an occasional metaphysical density to the language, but more often he [Baker] described the falcon's actions in passages of radiant lyricism that both express his own burning obession and restate all the qualities that make the bird such a totem species".[87]

Current status[edit]

Populations of the Peregrine Falcon have bounced back in most parts of the world. In Britain, there has been a recovery of populations since the crash of the 1960s. This has been greatly assisted by conservation and protection work led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The RSPB has estimated that there are 1,402 breeding pairs in the UK.[88][89] Peregrines now breed in many mountainous and coastal areas, especially in the west and north, and nest in some urban areas, capitalising on the urban Feral Pigeon populations for food.[90] In Southampton a nest prevented restoration of mobile telephony services for several months, after Vodaphone engineers despatched to repair a faulty transmitter mast discovered a nest in the mast, and were prevented by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, on pain of a possible prison sentence, from proceeding with repairs until the chicks fledged.[91] In many parts of the world Peregrine Falcons have adapted to urban habitats, nesting on cathedrals, skyscraper window ledges, tower blocks,[92] and the towers of suspension bridges. Many of these nesting birds are encouraged, sometimes gathering media attention and often monitored by cameras.[93][94]

Cultural significance[edit]

Due to its striking hunting technique, the Peregrine has often been associated with aggression and martial prowess. Native Americans of the Mississippian culture (c. 800–1500) used the Peregrine, along with several other birds of prey, in imagery as a symbol of "aerial (celestial) power" and buried men of high status in costumes associating to the ferocity of "raptorial" birds.[95] In the late Middle Ages, the Western European nobility that used Peregrines for hunting, considered the bird associated with princes in formal hierarchies of birds of prey, just below the Gyrfalcon associated with kings. It was considered "a royal bird, more armed by its courage than its claws". Terminology used by Peregrine breeders also used the Old French term gentil, "of noble birth; aristocratic", particularly with the Peregrine.[96]

The Peregrine Falcon is the national animal of the United Arab Emirates. Since 1927, the Peregrine Falcon has been the official mascot of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.[97] In 1971, Peregrine Falcon has become the official mascot of Adamson University in the Philippines. The 2007 U.S. Idaho state quarter features a Peregrine Falcon.[98] The Peregrine Falcon has been designated the official city bird of Chicago.[99]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Falco peregrinus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Heinzel, H.; Fitter, R.S.R.; Parslow, J. (1995). Birds of Britain and Europe with North Africa and the Middle East (5 ed.). London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-219894-0. 
  3. ^ Friedmann, H. (1950). "The birds of North and Middle America". U.S. National Museum Bulletin 50 (11). pp. 1–793. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j White, C.M. (1994). "Family Falconidae". In del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Sargatal, J. Handbook of Birds of the World: New World Vultures to Guinea fowl 2. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 216–275, plates 24–28. ISBN 84-87334-15-6. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Snow, D.W. (1998). The Complete Birds of the Western Palaearctic on CD-ROM. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-268579-1. 
  6. ^ a b c d U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1999). "All about the Peregrine falcon". Archived from the original on 16 April 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  7. ^ a b "Wildlife Finder – Peregrine Falcon". BBC. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  8. ^ "The world's fastest animal takes New York". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  9. ^ a b Harpole, Tom (1 March 2005). "Falling with the Falcon". Smithsonian Air & Space magazine. Retrieved 4 September 2008. 
  10. ^ Terminal Velocity. Skydivers chase the peregrine falcon's speed. Video by Public Television's Wild Chronicles, from National geographic Mission Programs.
  11. ^ Ferguson-Lees, J.; Christie, D.A. (2001). Raptors of the World. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-8026-1. 
  12. ^ Cade, T.J. (1996). "Peregrine Falcons in Urban North America". In Bird, D.M., D.E. Varland & J.J. Negro. Raptors in Human Landscapes. London: Academic Press. pp. 3–13. ISBN 0-12-100130-X. 
  13. ^ Cade, T.J. (1988). Peregrine Falcon Populations – Their management and recovery. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho. ISBN 0-9619839-0-6. 
  14. ^ a b c d Dewey, T.; Potter, M. (2002). "Animal Diversity Web: Falco peregrinus". University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
  15. ^ a b Scholz, F. (1993). Birds of Prey. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0242-1. 
  16. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  17. ^ a b c d White, Clayton M.; Clum, Nancy J.; Cade, Tom J.; Hunt, W. Grainger (2002). "Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)". The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  18. ^ Raptors of the World by Ferguson-Lees, Christie, Franklin, Mead & Burton. Houghton Mifflin (2001), ISBN 0-618-12762-3
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D. (2001). Raptors of the World. Houghton Mifflin Field Guides. ISBN 0-618-12762-3. 
  20. ^ a b c d e Terres, J.K. (1991). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Wings Books, New York. ISBN 0-517-03288-0. 
  21. ^ a b c d Beckstead, D. (2001)
  22. ^ (Latin) Tunstall, Marmaduke (1771). Ornithologia Britannica: seu Avium omnium Britannicarum tam terrestrium, quam aquaticarum catalogus, sermone Latino, Anglico et Gallico redditus: cui subjuctur appendix avec alennigenas, in Angliam raro advenientes, complectens. London, J. Dixwell. 
  23. ^ Merriam-Webster, Inc (1991). The Merriam-Webster new book of word histories. Merriam-Webster. p. 365. ISBN 0-87779-603-3. 
  24. ^ Contra Helbig et al. (1994), Wink et al. (1998). The supposed basal position of the hierofalcons was due to them having a cytochrome b numt: see Wink & Sauer-Gürth (2000)
  25. ^ Helbig et al. (1994), Wink et al. (1998)
  26. ^ Seibold, I.; Helbig, A. J.; Wink, M., I.; Helbig, A. J.; Wink, M. (1993). "Molecular systematics of falcons (family Falconidae)". Naturwissenschaften 80 (2): 87–90. doi:10.1007/BF01140425. 
  27. ^ Helbig et al. (1994), Wink et al. (1998), Griffiths (1999), Wink & Sauer-Gürth (2000), Groombridge et al. (2002), Griffiths et al. (2004), Nittinger et al. (2005)
  28. ^ a b Vaurie (1961)
  29. ^ a b c American Ornithologists' Union (1910): p. 164
  30. ^ a b Lehr, Jay H. and Janet K. (2000). "6.1.11". Standard handbook of environmental science, health, and technology. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0-07-038309-X. 
  31. ^ a b c Pande, Satish; Yosef, Reuven; Mahabal, Anil (2009). "Distribution of the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus babylonicus, F. p. calidus and F. p. peregrinator) in India with some notes on the nesting habits of the Shaheen Falcon". In Sielicki, Janusz. Peregrine Falcon populations – Status and Perspectives in the 21st Century. Mizera, Tadeusz. European Peregrine Falcon Working Group and Society for the Protection of Wild animals "Falcon", Poland and Turl Publishing & Poznan University of Life Sciences Press, Warsaw-Poznan. pp. 493–520. ISBN 978-83-920969-6-2. 
  32. ^ Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor levied a rent of these birds on the Knights Hospitaller when he donated the Island of Malta to them. Source of the name for Dashiell Hammett's novel.
  33. ^ Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Anderton, J.C. (2005). Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions. p. 116. 
  34. ^ Also called "Kleinschmidt's Falcon", but this might equally refer to F. p. kleinschmidti which is a junior synonym of japonensis,
  35. ^ a b Ellis, David H.; Garat, Cesar P. (1983). "The Pallid Falcon Falco kreyenborgi is a colour phase of the Austral Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus cassini)". Auk 100 (2): 269–71. Retrieved 24 May 2008. 
  36. ^ Vaurie, 1961
  37. ^ Mayr (1941)
  38. ^ Peters, J. L.; Mayr, E. & Cottrell, W. (1979): p. 423
  39. ^ a b American Ornithologists' Union (1910): p. 165
  40. ^ a b c Proctor, N. & Lynch, P. (1993): p. 13
  41. ^ The shaheen (شاهین) of Arabic and Persian writers are usually Barbary Falcons; those in Indian (शाहीन) and Pakistani (شاہین) sources normally refer to peregrinator.
  42. ^ Gehan de Silva Wijeratne; Deepal Warakagoda & T.S.U. de Zylva (2007). "Species description". A Photographic Guide to Birds of Sri Lanka. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd. p. 37 and/or 144. ISBN 978-1-85974-511-3. 
  43. ^ Döttlinger,Hermann; Hoffmann,Thilo W (1999). "Status of the Black Shaheen or Indian Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus peregrinator in Sri Lanka". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 96 (2): 239–43. 
  44. ^ Döttlinger & Nicholls (2005)
  45. ^ Döttlinger, 2002
  46. ^ Vaurie, (1961)
  47. ^ a b Wink et al. (2000)
  48. ^ Helbig et al. (1994)
  49. ^ Wink et al. (1998)
  50. ^ Wink & Sauer-Gürth (2000)
  51. ^ Wink et al. (2004)
  52. ^ Blondel (1999)
  53. ^ a b c d U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1995). "Peregrine Falcon". Retrieved 22 May 2008. 
  54. ^ a b c d Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  55. ^ Tucker (1998)
  56. ^ a b Michigan Department of Natural Resources (2007)
  57. ^ Colpocephalum falconii which was described from specimens found on the Peregrine Falcon, Colpocephalum subzerafae, Colpocephalum zerafae and Nosopon lucidum (all Menoponidae), Degeeriella rufa (Philopteridae), Laemobothrion tinnunculi (Laemobothriidae). All are known from other Falco species too.(Dewey & Potter 2002, Dagleish 2003)
  58. ^ Raidal et al. (1999), Raidal & Jaensch (2000), Dewey & Potter (2002), Dalgleish (2003)
  59. ^ "Birds of North America Online". Bna.birds.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2011-08-30. 
  60. ^ Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of the World by Leslie Brown & Dean Amadon. The Wellfleet Press (1986), ISBN 978-1555214722.
  61. ^ Sherrod, S. K. 1978. Diets of North American Falconiformes. Raptor Res. 12:49-121.
  62. ^ C.Michael Hogan, ed. 2010. American Kestrel. Encyclopedia of Earth, U.S. National Council for Science and the Environment, Ed-in-chief C.Cleveland
  63. ^ Klem, D. 1985. Raptors killing raptors. Wilson Bull 97:230-231.
  64. ^ a b c Drewitt, E.J.A.; Dixon, N. (February 2008). "Diet and prey selection of urban-dwelling Peregrine Falcons in southwest England". British Birds 101: 58–67. 
  65. ^ Olmos, F.; Silva e Silva, R. (2003). Guará: Ambiente , Fauna e Flora dos Manguezais de Santos-Cubatão, Brasil. São Paulo: Empresa das Artes. p. 111. ISBN 85-89138-06-2. 
  66. ^ a b c Ehrlich, P.; Dobkin, D.; Wheye, D. (1992). Birds in Jeopardy: The Imperiled and Extinct Birds of the United States. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1981-0. 
  67. ^ Treleaven, R. B. 1980. High and low intensity hunting in raptors. Z. Tierpsychol. 54:339-345.
  68. ^ a b c d e Blood, D. and Banasch, U. (2001). "Hinterland Who's Who Bird Fact Sheets: Peregrine Falcon". Archived from the original on 2008-05-08. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  69. ^ "— Birds of North America Online". Bna.birds.cornell.edu. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  70. ^ a b Peterson, R. T (1976): p. 171.
  71. ^ "Falcon Facts". Raptorresource.org. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  72. ^ Towry (1987)
  73. ^ a b Snow (1994)
  74. ^ Kuzir, S. and Muzini, J. (1999). "Birds and air traffic safety on Zagreb airport (Croatia)". The Environmentalist 18 (4): 231–237. doi:10.1023/A:1006541304592. 
  75. ^ Enderson, James; Katona, Robert (illustrator) (2005). Peregrine Falcon: Stories of the Blue Meanie. University of Texas Press. p. 175. ISBN 0-292-70624-3. 
  76. ^ Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (2011). "SCPBRG: Captive Breeding Program". University of California, Santa Cruz. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  77. ^ "Falco peregrinus". Scientific-web.com. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  78. ^ American Birding Association (2005). "Code of Birding Ethics". American Birding Association. Retrieved 26 May 2008. 
  79. ^ T. J. Cade, J. H. Enderson, C. G. Thelander & C. M. White (Eds): Peregrine Falcon Populations – Their management and recovery. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho, 1988. ISBN 0-9619839-0-6.
  80. ^ Brown (1976)
  81. ^ a b Cassidy, J. and Reader's Digest Editors (2005). "Book of North American Birds". Reader's Digest (via Google Books). p. 34. ISBN 0-89577-351-1. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  82. ^ a b Aitken, G. (2004). A New Approach to Conservation. Ashgate Publishing. p. 126. ISBN 0-7546-3283-0. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  83. ^ Henny, Charles; Nelson, Morlan W. (1981). "Decline and Present Status of Breeding Peregrine Falcons in Oregon". The Murrelet (Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology) 62 (2): 43–53. doi:10.2307/3534174. JSTOR 3534174. "The records of Richard M. Bond and William E. Griffee, and the recollections of Larry L. Schramm and Merlin A. McColm were critical in putting the Peregrine back off the endangered list" 
  84. ^ Cade, T.J., Burnham W. (2003) Return of the Peregrine:a North American sage of tenacity and teamwork. The Peregrine Fund ISBN 0961983930
  85. ^ The Peregrine by J.A. Baker, Introduction by Robert Macfarlane, New York Review Books 2005 ISBN 978-1-59017-133-2
  86. ^ The Peregrine, The Hill of Summer & Diaries; The Complete Works of J.A. Baker, Introduction by Mark Cocker & Edited by John Fanshawe, Collins 2011 ISBN 978-0-00-739590-3
  87. ^ a b Birds Britannica, Mark Cocker & Richard Mabey, pub Chatto & Windus, London, 2005 ISBN 0 701 16907 9, page 150
  88. ^ "Rare peregrine falcons raise four chicks in Nottingham". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2011-08-30. 
  89. ^ "Peregrine". The Rspb. 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2011-08-30. 
  90. ^ The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2003). "Peregrine Falcon: Threats". Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  91. ^ "Nesting falcon hits Vodafone customers in Southampton". BBC News. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  92. ^ "London | Falcon eggs hatch on tower block". BBC News. 2005-06-03. Retrieved 2011-08-30. 
  93. ^ Navarro, Mireya (2009-02-12). "Record Number of Peregrine Falcons in New York State". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  94. ^ See, for example, (1) "Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Group WebCam". Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-11.  and (2) "W.E.B. Du Bois FalconCam". University of Massachusetts Amherst Library. 2013-05-10. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  95. ^ Krech (2009), pp. 92–95
  96. ^ Evans (1990), pp. 79–86
  97. ^ "Office Of The Dean Of Students :: Bowling Green State University History and Traditions". Bowling Green State University. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  98. ^ Shalaway, Scott (2007-09-02). "Quarters Reflect High Interest in Nature". The Charleston Gazette. 
  99. ^ "Uptown Chicago Comission". 

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: F. peregrinoides, a North African and Asiatic desert-adapted taxon, is considered a race of the cosmopolitan peregrine by some taxonomists. South American F. kreyenborgi is a color morph of F. peregrinus (AOU 1983, McNutt 1984). See Olsen et al. (1989) for a study of relationships within the genus Falco based on electrophoretic patterns of feather proteins.

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The scientific name of peregrine falcon is Falco peregrinus Tunstall [6,7,54] (Falconidae) [54]. Subspecies in North America include [6,54]:

Falco peregrinus anatum Bonaparte,  American peregrine falcon

Falco peregrinus pealei Ridgway,  Peale's peregrine falcon

Falco peregrinus tundrius C.M. White,  arctic peregrine falcon
  • 6. American Ornithologists' Union. 1957. Checklist of North American birds. 5th ed. Baltimore, MD: The Lord Baltimore Press, Inc. 691 p. [21235]
  • 54. Dunn, Jon L.; Alderfer, Jonathan, eds. 2006. Field guide to the birds of North America. 5th ed. Washington, DC: The National Geographic Society. 503 p. [68123]
  • 7. American Ornithologists' Union. 2010. The A.O.U. check-list of North American birds, 7th ed., [Online]. American Ornithologists' Union (Producer). Available: http://www.aou.org/checklist/north/index.php. [50863]

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Common Names

peregrine falcon

duck hawk

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