Peregrine Falcons are immensely strong and quick. These birds live from the tundra to the tropics, from riparian habitats to deserts. Their diet is extensive, including over 300 species of birds. This bird has been admired greatly by humans for their magnificent aerodynamics and inherent beauty. Here are some facts and attributes associated with these magnificent creatures.
10 Facts About Peregrine Falcons
1. They can literally snap apart your spinal cord!
The flight of Peregrine Falcons is so extraordinary that they can theoretically snap the spinal cord of a human on collision. Fortunately, this hasn’t ever happened, so it isn’t something to worry about if these birds are commonly found where you live.
2. They are the fastest birds in the world!
When an ideal speed limit for Peregrine Falcons was discussed while evaluating the flight physics for an “ideal Peregrine Falcon,” they found it to be 388 miles per hour in high altitude flight, and 250 miles per hour in low altitude flight. However, the actual recorded top speed of this species is much lower than that. It was just over 240 miles per hour. There’s no evidence to prove that these birds can fly any faster than that, but that number itself is extremely impressive. At such speeds, these birds could possibly kill humans on collision.
3. These birds migrate almost 16,000 miles annually!
Not all Peregrine Falcons migrate, some are sedentary. Migratory populations can travel as far as 16,000 miles annually. It’s not very easy to define the resident status of these birds, as some find the need to migrate so far away during the winter, whereas some are able to thrive in snow-covered landscapes.
4. Their appearance varies throughout their range.
There are apparent differences between the subspecies of Peregrine Falcons, but these birds are still easy to identify across the board. Differences in color patterns and size are evident throughout their range.
5. Peregrine Falcons are accurate visual hunters.
Peregrine Falcons are excellent hunters, benefitting from their ability to fly at such frighteningly fast paces. While hunting, they scan for prey before flying to a great height and swooping down at their maximum pace to stun their prey. To avoid unfortunate injuries, Peregrine Falcons only dive into one wing of their prey. They also have nictating membranes above their eyes, which lubricate their eyes with tears and maintain their vision by clearing dirt and debris.
6. They were particularly popular during the 1970s.
Through the years, these birds have become part of the most widely studied bird species in the world. They have over 2,000 primary scientific titles, and in the 1970s they were an important symbol for the environmental awakening. This popularity has reduced during the years, as Peregrine Falcons were no longer breeding in the majority of eastern North America and Europe. Breeding numbers had also gone down in parts of North America and northern Asia. This sudden drop in their numbers was mostly due to pesticides.
7.Pesticides like DDT almost led to their extinction.
The 1970s were a scary time for many bird species. DDT has been one of the major culprits in affecting the reproductive processes of many species. This agricultural chemical would not cause immediate death, but it would affect the calcium metabolism of many birds, in turn affecting their nesting habits. Brittle and thin eggs were having an effect on egg hatching, and ornithologists had reason to worry. If this wasn’t caught in time, then it would have become very difficult to find this majestic bird nowadays.
8.They aggressively defend their nests.
Peregrine Falcons are susceptible to many ground predators and some bird species, so they use their speed, agility, and vocalizations to protect their nests. Herons, gulls, foxes, felids, bears, lions, and wolves are the most common predators of these birds. In Europe and North America, large owls such Eurasian Eagle-Owls and Great Horned Owls contribute the most to the predation of Peregrine Falcons.
9.Peregrine Falcons are important in many cultures.
Not only are Peregrine Falcons culturally relevant due to their excellence at falconry, but they have also been associated with martial expertise and strength. A common depiction of the Egyptian deity Ra includes her having the head of a Peregrine Falcon. Native Americans have also often used this species of bird to symbolize celestial power. Western European families also considered this to be a royal bird, so it was commonly used by princes. Its importance for these families was just below the importance of Gyrfalcons. In addition to all these facts, this bird is also the “official city bird of Chicago.”
10. No other raptor possesses such a high prey spectrum as these birds.
Over 300 bird species have been predated by Peregrine Falcons and a high number of these deaths in waders. Sharp-shinned Hawks, Kestrels, and Merlins are consistently predated on by these birds. Their range has extended towards urban areas in recent years, so their diet there is entirely different, 80% of this diet includes feral and Rock Pigeons. Other common city birds that are preyed on by Peregrine Falcons are Common Starlings, Common Blackbirds, Corvids, Mourning Doves, Northern Flickers, and Common Swifts. Mammals are not common in their diet, but they are
sometimes known to predate on mice, squirrels, voles, hares, shrews, and especially bats at night.
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Peregrine Falcons
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Peregrine Falcons are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.