Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon, Slechtvalk, Wanderfalke-peregrinus, Falcão-peregrino, Halcón Peregrino

Spotted in the Alentejo region of Portugal.                                               Peregrine Falcon sound  

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-grey back, barred white underparts, and a black head and “moustache”. As is typical of bird-eating raptors, Peregrine Falcons are sexually dimorphic, females being considerably larger than males. The Peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching over 322 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop (high speed dive), making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom. According to a National Geographic TV programme, the highest measured speed of a Peregrine Falcon is 389 km/h (242 mph).

Peregrine Falcon Birding Portugal
Peregrine Falcon

More photos at the bottom of this page.

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 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. 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.

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). 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. Males weigh 424 to 750 grams (0.935–1.65 lb) and the noticeably larger females weigh 910 to 1,500 grams (2.01–3.3 lb). The standard linear measurements of Peregrines are: the wing chord measures 26.5–39 cm (10.4–15 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).

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. The white to rusty underparts are barred with thin clean bands of dark brown or black. 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. The cere is yellow, as are the feet, and the beak and claws are black. The upper beak is notched near the tip, an adaptation which enables falcons to kill prey by severing the spinal column at the neck. The immature bird is much browner with streaked, rather than barred, underparts, and has a pale bluish cere and orbital ring.

Peregrine Falcon Birding Portugal
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon Birding Portugal
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon Birding Portugal
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon Birding Portugal
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon Birding Portugal
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon Birding Portugal
Peregrine Falcon

Other synonyms:

Afrikaans: Swerfvalk, Valk
Asturian: Ferre Palomberu
Breton: Ar falc’hun kantreat, Falc’hun glas, falc’hun kantreat
Catalan: Falcó, Falcó pelegrí
Catalan (Balears): Falcó
Czech: Sokol stehovavý
Welsh: Cudyll glas, Gwalch glas, Hebog, Hebog dramor, hebog tramor
Danish: Vandrefalk
German: Wanderfalke, Wanderfalke , Wanderfalke-peregrinus
English: North European Peregrine Falcon, Peregrine, Peregrine Falcon
Esperanto: Migra falko
Spanish: Falcón de Patos, Falcón Peregrino, Halcón Común, Halcón de Patos, Halcon Peregrino, Halcón Peregrino, Halcón Peregrino del Norte, Halcón Peregrino del Sur
Spanish (Argentine): Halcón peregrino
Spanish (Bolivia): Halcón peregrino
Spanish (Chile): Halcón peregrino
Spanish (Colombia): Halcón Peregrino
Spanish (Costa Rica): Halcón Peregrino
Spanish (Cuba): Halcón de Patos
Spanish (Dominican Rep.): Halcón de Patos, Halcón Peregrino
Spanish (Honduras): Halcón peregrino
Spanish (Mexico): Halcón peregrino
Spanish (Nicaragua): Halcón Peregrino
Spanish (Paraguay): Halcón peregrino
Spanish (Uruguay): Halcón peregrino, Halcón Peregrino del Norte, Halcón Peregrino del Sur
Estonian: rabapistrik
Basque: Belatz handi, Falcó pelegrí
Finnish: Muuttohaukka
Faroese: Ferðafalkur, Ferðfalkur
French: Faucon gerfaut, Faucon pelerin, Faucon pèlerin
Frisian: noardske falk
Irish: fabhcún gorm, falcón peregrino, Seabhac gorm, Seabhac seilge
Guadeloupean Creole French: Malfini
Gaelic: Seabhag
Galician: Falcó pelegrí, Falcón peregrino
Guarani: Taguato ro’y
Manx: Shirragh y Ree
Haitian Creole French: Grigri pelren
Croatian: Sivi Sokol
Hungarian: Vándorsólyom
Indonesian: Alapalap Kawah, Alap-alap kawau , Alap-alap sawah
Icelandic: Förufálki
Italian: falco pellegrino, Falco pellegrino comune, Pellegrino
Inuktitut: Kigaviarsuk, Kikkeveokjuk
Japanese: Haya busa, hayabusa
Cornish: Falghun pryeryn
Kwangali: Kakodi
Latin: Falco peregrinus, Falco peregrinus peregrinus
Lithuanian: Sakalas keleivis
Malagasy: Voromahery
Macedonian: siv sokol
Malay: Falko Beialang, Falko Belalang, Helang Peregrine
Maltese: Bies
Dutch: Slechtvalk
Norwegian: Pilegrimsfalk, vandrefalk
Occitan: moisset pelegrin
Portuguese: falcao peregrino, falcão peregrino, Falcao-peregrino, Falcão-peregrino
Portuguese (Brazil): Falcão Peregrino, falcão-peregrino
Romansh: falcun pelegrin
Romanian: câlâtor
Sardinian: Astori perdighinu, Tilibriu
Scots: Seabhag
Northern Sami: bárbmofálli
Slovenian: sokol selec
Shona: Rukodzi
Albanian: Petriti, Sokol i kuqërremtë
Serbian: sivi soko
Sotho, Southern: Leubane
Swedish: Pilgrimsfalk
Swahili: Kozi Tembere
Tswana: Phakwê
Tsonga: Rigamani
Xhosa: Ukhetshe

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