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Peregrine Falcon

Last updated date: 04th Mar 2024
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What is Peregrine Falcon?

A peregrine falcon is simply known as a peregrine. A peregrine has a scientific name of Falco peregrinus.

Historically, it is known as the duck falcon in North America. It is a widespread bird of prey (raptor) belonging to the family of Falconidae. A large, crow-sized peregrine bird, has a blue-grey back, barred white underparts, and a blackhead with thick sideburns. 

A peregrine bird is renowned for its speed, usually, a peregrine falcon speed is over 320 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop (peregrine falcon top speed dive), making it known as the fastest peregrine bird in the world, as well as the fastest member of the animal kingdom.

A peregrine falcon has its taxonomy and naming, classification, living behaviour, types, and various subspecies, which we will discuss on this page.

Along with the current status and the cultural significance of the peregrine bird, we will have a glimpse of interesting peregrine falcon facts.

Peregrine Falcon Classification

Peregrine Falcon

Scientific Classification

Binomial name

Falco peregrinus

Discovered by Tunstall in the year 1771


Falco atriceps

(Discovered by David Hume)

Falco kreyenborgi

(Discovered by Kleinschmidt, 1929)

Falco pelegrinoides maidens

(Discovered by - Ripley & Watson, 1963)

Rhynchodon peregrinus

(Discovered by - Tunstall, 1771)














F. peregrinus


Breeding summer visitor

Breeding resident

Winter visitor

Passage visitor

Conservation Status

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LC means least concerned as per the IUCN Data

Peregrine Taxonomy

Falco peregrinus was first depicted under its present binomial name by English ornithologist Marmaduke Tunstall in his 1771 work Ornithologia Britannica. The logical name Falco peregrinus is a Medieval Latin expression that was utilized by Albertus Magnus in 1225. The particular name is taken from the way that adolescent birds were taken while venturing to their reproducing area as opposed to from the home, as falcon homes were hard to get at.

The Latin expression for a falcon, Falco, is identified with falx, signifying "sickle", regarding the silhouette of the falcon's long and pointed wings in flight.

Peregrine Falcon Description

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The peregrine falcon has a body length stretching from 34 to 58 cm, i.e., 13 to 23 inches long.

Also, the peregrine falcon size of the wingspan stretches from 74 to 120 cm (29-47 in). 

The peregrine bird (both male and female) has similar markings and plumage, however, in many birds of prey, the peregrine falcon displays remarkable sexual dimorphism in size, with the female measuring up to 30% larger than the male.

Males falcon birds weigh around 330 to 1,000 g (0.73-2.20 lb) and the noticeably larger female falcons weigh 700 to 1,500 g (1.5-3.3 lb). 

For the most part, the subspecies of falcon males weigh less than 700 g (1.5 lb) and females weigh more than 800 g (1.8 lb), which shows that females show about 50% more than their male breeding mates.

The standard linear measurements of peregrine falcon size are the wing chord that measures 26.5 to 39 cm (10.4-15.4 in), while its tail measures 13 to 19 cm (5.1-7.5 in), and the tarsus measures between 4.5 to 5.6 cm (1.8–2.2 in).

The back and the long pointed wings of the adult have an appearance of bluish-black to slate grey with indistinct darker barring; the wingtips are black.

The white to rusty (corresponding to iron red colour) underparts are fastened with thin clean bands of dark brown or black.

The tail appears like the back but with thin clean bars, and is long, narrow, and rounded at the end with a black tip with a white band at the tip. 

Besides this, the top of the head and a "mustache" along the cheeks are dark in shading, standing out pointedly from the pale sides of the neck and white throat. The cere is yellow, similar to the feet, and the nose and claws are dark.

The upper beak is indented close to the tip, a transformation that empowers hawks to chase prey by cutting off the spinal segment at the neck. The youthful bird is a lot browner with streaked, instead of barred, underparts, and has a pale blue cere and orbital ring.

Peregrine Systematics

The peregrine falcon has a place with a class whose lineage incorporates the hiero falcons (note and the grassland bird of prey (F. mexicanus). This genealogy likely veered from different birds of prey towards the finish of the Late Miocene or in the Early Pliocene, around 5-8 million years prior (mya). 

As the peregrine-hierofalcon group incorporates both Old World and North American species, almost certainly, the heredity began in western Eurasia or Africa. Its relationship to different birds of prey isn't clear, as the issue is convoluted by far-reaching hybridization bewildering mtDNA grouping examinations. For instance, a hereditary genealogy of the saker falcon (F. cherrug) is known, which began from a male saker producing fertile young with a female peregrine predecessor, and the relatives further breeding with sakers. 

Today, peregrines are routinely paired in imprisonment with different species, for example, the lanner bird of prey (F. biarmicus) to produce the "perilanner", a to some degree famous bird in falconry as it joins the peregrine's hunting expertise with the lanner's toughness, or the gyrfalcon to create enormous, strikingly hued birds for the utilization of falconers. 

As can be seen, the peregrine is still hereditarily near the hiero falcons, however, their lineages got separated in the Late Pliocene (possibly some 2.5-2 mya in the Gelasian).

Peregrine Habitat

The peregrine's reproducing range incorporates land areas from the Arctic tundra to the tropics.

It tends to be discovered almost wherever on Earth, with the exception of outrageous polar regions, extremely high mountains, and most tropical rainforests; the lone significant without ice landmass from which it is completely missing in New Zealand. This makes it the world's most broad raptor, and perhaps the most generally discovered bird species. 

As a matter of fact, the solitary land-based bird species found over a bigger geographic region isn't in every case normally happening, yet one generally presented by humans, the rock pigeon, which thus now supports numerous peregrine populations as a prey animal type. 

The peregrine is an exceptionally fruitful illustration of metropolitan natural life in a lot of its reach, exploiting tall buildings as nest sites and a plenitude of prey like pigeons and ducks. Both the English and logical names of this species signify "wandering falcon," alluding to the transient migratory habits for some northern populations. 

Specialists perceive 17 to 19 subspecies, which vary in appearance and range; conflict exists about whether the unmistakable Barbary falcon of prey is addressed by two subspecies of Falco peregrinus, or is a different animal group, F. pelegrinoides. 

The two species' dissimilarity is moderately later, during the hour of the last ice age, accordingly the genetic differential between them (and furthermore the distinction in their appearance) is generally tiny. They are just about 0.6-0.8% genetically separated.

Peregrine Diet

The peregrine diet comprises almost all medium-sized birds, also, they hunt small mammals, small reptiles, or even insects. 

After any year, when it reaches sexual maturity, it mates for its entire life and nests in a scrape, usually on cliff edges. In urban life, they prefer to build nests on tall human-made structures.

 In recent times, the peregrine falcon has become an endangered species in many areas because of the widespread use of certain pesticides, like DDT. Even after the ban on DDT in the early 1970s, populations have recovered, upheld by large-scale protection of nesting places and releases to the wild.

Because of its strong hunting ability, high trainability, versatility, and availability via captive breeding. The peregrine falcon is a well-respected falconry bird. Also, it is effective on most game bird species, from tiny to large.

Peregrine Falcon Subspecies

Several subspecies of Falco peregrinus are there, among these 19 were accepted by the 1994 Handbook of the Birds of the World, which also considers the Barbary falcon of the Canary Islands and coastal North Africa to be two subspecies viz: pelegrinoides and babylonicus) of Falco peregrinus, rather than considering them distinct species, F. pelegrinoides. 

The below map shows the general ranges of these 19 subspecies:

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A peregrine subspecies are enlisted below:

  • Falco peregrinus anatum

  • Falco peregrinus babylonicus

  • Falco peregrinus brookei

  • Falco peregrinus calidus

  • Falco peregrinus cassini

  • Falco peregrinus ernesti

  • Falco peregrinus furuitii

  • Falco peregrinus japonensis

  • Falco peregrinus macropus

  • Falco peregrinus maidens

  • Falco peregrinus minor

  • Falco peregrinus nesiotes

  • Falco peregrinus pealei

  • Falco peregrinus pelegrinoides

  • Falco peregrinus peregrinator

  • Falco peregrinus peregrinus

  • Falco peregrinus radama

  • Falco peregrinus sub melanogenys

  • Falco peregrinus tundrius

Now, let’s understand some of the peregrine subspecies one by one:

Falco Peregrinus Anatum

It was described by Bonaparte in 1838, also known as the American peregrine falcon or "duck hawk"; its scientific name is"duck peregrine falcon". 

Currently, it is mainly found in the Rocky Mountains. However, it was formerly common throughout North America between the tundra and northern Mexico, where current re-establishing efforts are seeking to restore the population

Most mature anatum, (other than those mostly breed in northern areas) winter in their breeding range. 

Most vagrants that migrate to western Europe belong to the more northern and strongly migratory tundrius, only considered distinct since 1968. It is alike the nominate subspecies, but slightly smaller; however, adults are somewhat paler and less patterned below. 

Besides these subspecies, juveniles are darker and more patterned below. 

Out of these, males weigh around 500 to 700 g (1.1-1.5 lb), whereas females weigh 800 to 1,100 g (1.8-2.4 lb). 

These subspecies have become extinct in Eastern North America and the populations that we find there are hybrids as a result of reintroductions of birds from elsewhere.

Falco Peregrinus Babylonicus

Falco peregrinus babylonicus was described by P.L. Sclater in 1861. This subspecies is found in eastern Iran along the Hindu Kush and the Tian Shan to the Mongolian Altai ranges. 

A male falco p. babylonicus (Red_naped Shaheen) was first described by Saeed Gallehdari in Kerman, Iran. Males weigh around 330-400 grams (12 to 14 oz), while females between 513 to 765 grams (18.1 to 27.0 oz).

A few birds winter in northern and northwestern India, chiefly habitats in dry semi-desert. It is paler than pelegrinoides, and somewhat resembles a tiny, pale lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus).

Falco Peregrinus Brookei

Falco peregrinus brookei was first described by Sharpe in 1873. It is also known as the Mediterranean peregrine falcon or the Maltese falcon.

Besides this, it includes caucasicus and most specimens of the proposed race punicus, however, others may be pelegrinoides (Barbary falcons), or perhaps the rarely known hybrids between these two that may be found across Algeria. Also, they appear from the Iberian Peninsula around the Mediterranean, except in arid regions, to the Caucasus. 

These subspecies are non-migratory and are smaller than the nominate subspecies; the underside usually has a rusty hue (colour).

Male subspecies of this type weigh around 445 g (0.981 lb), while females weigh around 920 g (2.03 lb).

Falco Peregrinus Calidus

Falco peregrinus calidus was first described by John Latham in 1790. Formerly, it was called leucogenys involving caeruleiceps. 

Its breeding regions are in the Arctic tundra of Eurasia from Murmansk Oblast to roughly Yana and Indigirka Rivers, Siberia. 

It is entirely migratory and travels across the south in winter as far as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Often, it can be seen around wetland habitats.

It is paler than the nominate subspecies, specifically on the crown. The male community of these subspecies weighs between 588 to 740 g (1.296–1.631 lb), whereas females weigh 925 to 1,333 g (2.039-2.939 pounds).

Falcon Peregrinus Cassini

Described by Sharpe in 1972, falco peregrinus cassini is also known as the austral peregrine falcon. 

These subspecies include kreyenborgi, the pallid falcon, having a leucistic colour morph occurring in southernmost South America, which was long believed to be a distinct species.

Its habitat covers America from Ecuador through Bolivia, northern Argentina, and Chile to Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands.

Also, it is a non-migratory bird. Its appearance resembles the nominate subspecies; however, it is slightly smaller with a black ear region. 

The pallid falcon morph kreyenborg has a medium grey appearance in the above region, has little bearing below, also, has a head pattern like the saker falcon (Falco cherrug), but the ear region is whitish.

Falco Peregrinus Ernesti

Described by Sharpe in 1894, it is found from the Sunda Islands to the Philippines and south to eastern New Guinea and the nearby Bismarck Archipelago. 

It is non-migratory and differs from the nominate subspecies in terms of very dark appearance, dense barring on its underside and has black coloured ear coverts.

Falco Peregrinus Furutii

Falco peregrinus furuitii, as portrayed by Momiyama in 1927, is found on the Izu and Ogasawara Islands south of Honshū, Japan. It is non-transient. It is particularly exceptional and may simply remain on a lone island. It's anything but a faint construction, taking after pealei in concealing, yet hazier, especially on the tail.

Falco Peregrinus Japonensis 

Falco peregrinus japonensis, portrayed by Gmelin in 1788, incorporates kleinschmidt, pleskei, and harterti, and appears to allude to intergrades with calidus. It is found from upper east Siberia to Kamchatka (however it is perhaps supplanted by pealei on the coast there) and Japan. Northern populaces are transient, while those of Japan are inhabited. It is like the designated subspecies, yet the youthful are significantly hazier than those of anatum. 

Falco Peregrinus Macropus 

Falco peregrinus macropus, portrayed by Swainson in 1837, is the Australian peregrine hawk. It is found in Australia in all locales aside from the southwest. It is non-transient. It is like brookei by all accounts, however, is somewhat more modest and the ear district is completely dark. The feet are relatively large.

It is found in the Cape Verde Islands and is non-migratory; it is additionally jeopardized, with simply six to eight sets surviving. Males have a rufous wash on the crown, scruff, ears, and back; the underside is obviously washed pinkish-earth colored. Females are touched rich earthy-coloured generally speaking, particularly on the crown and nape.

Falco Peregrinus Japonensis 

Falco peregrinus japonensis, portrayed by Gmelin in 1788, incorporates kleinschmidt, pleskei, and harterti, and appears to allude to intergrades with calidus. It is found from upper east Siberia to Kamchatka (however it is perhaps supplanted by pealei on the coast there) and Japan. Northern populaces are transient, while those of Japan are inhabited. It is like the select subspecies, however the youthful are significantly hazier than those of anatum. 

Falco Peregrinus Macropus 

Falco peregrinus Macropus, portrayed by Swainson in 1837, is the Australian peregrine bird of prey. It is found in Australia in all locales with the exception of the southwest. It is non-transient. It is like brookei by all accounts yet is marginally more modest and the ear district is completely dark. The feet are relatively huge. 

Falco Peregrinus Minor 

Falco peregrinus minor, first depicted by Bonaparte in 1850. It was once in the past normal known as perconfusus. It is scantily and patchily appropriated all through a lot of sub-Saharan Africa and boundless in Southern Africa. It clearly arrives north along the Atlantic coast similar to Morocco. It is non-transitory and dim shaded. This is the littlest subspecies with more modest males weighing as little as around 300 g (11 oz).

After describing the specialties of peregrine falcon along with the peregrine speed and the peregrine top speed, now, let’s have a look at the interesting peregrine falcon facts:

Peregrine Falcon Facts

  • As indicated by a National Geographic TV program, the most elevated estimated speed of a peregrine hawk is 389 km/h (242 mph). Also, peregrine hawks are physically dimorphic, with females being extensively bigger than males. 

  • Peregrine hawks generally feed on birds they have caught in flight including species like wild pigeons, woodpigeons, blackbirds, starlings, and dark-headed gulls. They will sometimes likewise get mammals like rabbits and, in the midst of outrageous climate conditions, flesh. 

  • Nostrils of peregrine birds of prey guide stun influxes of air to prevent the high pressing factor from harming their lungs while they jump. A characteristic plan so entrancing, it inspired the design of the first jet engines.

  • Peregrine females structure a scrape with her chest and legs for laying her eggs, where she lays 3-4 eggs in March or April and incubates them for 30 days, while the male provides her with food.

FAQs on Peregrine Falcon

Q1: Describe the Subspecies Falco Peregrinus Peregrinator in Brief.

Ans: Falco peregrinus peregrinator, portrayed by Sundevall in 1837, is known as the Indian peregrine hawk, dark shaheen, Indian shaheen, or shaheen falcon.

It was previously once in a while known as Falco atriceps or Falco shaheen. Its reach incorporates South Asia from across the Indian subcontinent to Sri Lanka and southeastern China. 

In India, the shaheen bird of prey is accounted for from all states with the exception of Uttar Pradesh, for the most part from rough and sloping areas. The shaheen bird of prey is additionally revealed from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.

It has a clutch size of 3 to 4 eggs, with the chick's fledging season of 48 days with an average nesting success of 1.32 chicks per home. In India, aside from settling on bluffs, it has likewise been recorded as settling on man-made designs, for example, structures and cell phone transmission towers.

A population of 40 reproducing sets in Sri Lanka was made in 1996. It is non-migratory and is little and dim, with rufous underparts. In Sri Lanka, this species is found to support the higher slopes, while the transient calidus is all the more normally seen along the coast.

Q2: How Do Falcon Peregrinus Pealei Survive?

Ans: Falco peregrinus pealei, portrayed by Ridgway in 1873, is Peale's bird of prey and incorporates rudolfi. It is found in the Pacific Northwest of North America, northwards from Puget Sound along the British Columbia coast (counting the Haida Gwaii), along the Gulf of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands to the far eastern Bering Seabank of Russia, and may likewise happen on the Kuril Islands and the shorelines of Kamchatka. 

It is non-transient. It is the biggest subspecies and it's anything but a larger than usual and more obscure tundrius or like a firmly banished and huge anatum. The bill is very large.

Juveniles sometimes have pale crowns. males gauge 700 to 1,000 g (1.5–2.2 lb), while females gauge 1,000 to 1,500 g (2.2–3.3 lb).

Q3: What Does the Falcon Peregrinus Peregrinus Look Like?

Ans: Falco peregrinus, the name (first-named) subspecies, depicted by Tunstall in 1771, breeds over a lot of mild Eurasia between the tundra in the north and the Pyrenees, Mediterranean area, and Alpide belt in the south It is mostly non-transitory in Europe, yet transient in Scandinavia and Asia. Males gauge 580 to 750 g (1.28-1.65 lb), while females gauge 925 to 1, 300 g (2.039–2.866 lb). It incorporates brevirostris, germanicus, rhenanus, and riphaeus.