The Peregrine Falcon is found in North America and Eurasia but it spends its winters in South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. It is a predatory bird that hunts other birds in the air. It can perform attack dives that reach one hundred miles per hour and it uses its speed to knock its victims from the air on the impact of one those dives. It can also kill on the ground by biting other birds in the back of the neck.
When it is attacking a prey in the air, it thrusts its talons in front of it so that the impact knocks the prey bird out of the air and the prey is usually killed on impact. Before the, now dead, prey bird can fall to the ground, the Peregrine Falcon will turn and snatch the falling bird from the air so that it never lands on the ground.
The Peregrine Falcon is one of the world’s fastest birds. At times, it might freefall for one thousand feet, with its wings tucked closely to its side. This speed is lost when it is flying level, however, as it can be surpassed by some species of ducks. It is adaptable to most terrains, but it prefers open fields that are surrounded by high cliffs. It makes its nests in those higher terrain features.
This falcon received the name Peregrine because of its ability to migrate great distances. Peregrine means ‘foreigner’ or ‘wander’ in Latin and one bird was recorded to have flown 960 miles in 48 hours. The Peregrine has excellent vision and it can spot prey on the ground from one thousand feet above it.
Peregrine populations were dangerously low in the 1950’s to the 1970’s when the pesticide DDT was finally banned. Today, it is believed that their numbers are on the rise again.