A Prairie Falcon is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Prairie Falcons. We have also put together a list of fun Prairie Falcon t-shirts, Prairie Falcon bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About the Prairie Falcon
These large falcons of the arid west are nearly identical to the peregrine but differ in hunting habits. They pursue small prey with rapid flight close to the ground. They can be seen gliding above shrubby areas and grasslands as they search for small birds and mammals. They are always on the move if not camouflaging with the steep cliffs where they nest. Some of their distinctive features include:
Description and Identification
These birds are 14.5 – 18.5 inches in length with pointed wings and long tails. Their
wingspan ranges anywhere between 35.5 – 44.5 inches. Their plumages are mainly grayish-
brown above while their breasts and bellies are pale with vertical brown markings. Under
their wings, there is a dark mark that resembles the shape of an armpit, a distinct detail that
differentiates them from other falcons. Their tails are paler and contrast with their back and
wings. Like other falcons, the females are bulkier than the males. Juveniles generally have
uniformly colored shoulder and back feathers, bearing horizontal stripes rather than the
vertical ones found in adults.
Prairie Falcon Color Pattern
Prairie Falcons have brown upperparts and pale-brown underparts. Dark under wings are visible during flight. The tail is paler which contrasts with the rest of the body. Their eyes are dark brown with unique eyering.
Prairie Falcon Size
They are larger than a crow but dwarfed by a goose. Ideally, they resemble a peregrine. Their wings are pointed and have fairly long tails. They have a short hooked bill.
The relative size of both sexes
- Length range: 14.6-18.5 in (37-47 cm)
- Weight: 14.8-38.8 oz (420-1100 g)
- Wingspan range: 35.4-44.5 in (90-113 cm)
Prairie Falcon Behavior
Prairie falcons have a wide array of hunting techniques; they often hunt from low altitudes surprising their prey. They can also dive quickly from the air and also chase after birds in flight. In flight, they fly swiftly in one direction with rapid wing beats.
What Prairie Falcon Eat
Prairie Falcons are carnivores and almost exclusively feed on small mammals. Their diet
mainly includes squirrels, but they also consume pikas, insects, and other birds. These birds
are known for their aggressive nature and have been observed to not only tackle birds of
their size but also larger birds on occasion. The birds they mainly feed on include Mourning
Doves, shorebirds, Horned Larks, and Western Meadowlarks. They have been known to
store excess food in clumps of vegetation and rocky areas for times with depleted prey.
They mostly feed on birds and small mammals and hunt for vulnerable prey at a time. In summer, they feed heavily on squirrels and in winter feed on flocking birds. These falcons also feed on lizards, insects and small rabbits.
Where Prairie Falcons Live
Prairie Falcons can be found in the open country throughout the arid west of the United
States along bluffs and cliffs. These habitats can also include alpine regions with an
elevation of more than 11,000 feet if there is a population of squirrels or pikas. Their
breeding habitats are generally centered around grasslands, shrub-steppe deserts, or areas
of mixed shrubs and grasslands. A popular wintering location is in the Great Plains and the
Great Basin, a habitat that supports their wintertime diet. These areas include sage scrub,
dry-farmed wheat fields, irrigated croplands, and cattle feedlots.
They thrive in deserts, plains, open hills and prairies. They are typically found in wide-open areas of the West. In winter, they frequent farmlands and areas around lakes and reservoirs. Prairie falcons avoid forests and nest on ledges on rocky cliffs.
Range and Migration
Prairie Falcons are medium to large-sized falcons found across the arid regions of western
The United States and parts of northern Mexico. These falcons are similar to Peregrine Falcons
but have adapted to the arid climates they are present in and can be linked back to them
genetically. Out of the larger falcons present in North America, it is the only species that is
native to the United States. These birds are endemic to the dry western region of the United
States, but they occasionally move southwards in search of food.
Prairie Falcon Lifecycle
The females lay 3-5 eggs and incubate them for 31 days. During incubation, the male feeds the female and may temporarily sit on the eggs as the female feeds. The young leave the nest 5-6 weeks after hatching. They have a lifespan of 3-5 years in the wild.
Prairie Falcon Nesting
The nesting sites are selected by both males and females on cliff bluffs or in natural crevices
and potholes in higher altitudes to ensure safety from mammalian predators. Prairie Falcons
living in urban areas usually nest on trees, powerline structures, stone quarries, and
buildings. The nests are usually built very simply by scratching small amounts of loose
debris together to create a depression for the eggs. Sometimes they make use of the nests
made by other birds of prey, like the golden eagle or the common raven. In the single brood,
they have every breeding season, an approximate clutch size of 2 – 6 eggs are found.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Prairie Falcons
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Prairie 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.
Prairie Falcon T-shirts
If you love the Prairie Falcon you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Prairie Falcon Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Prairie Falcon is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Prairie Falcon Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Prairie Falcon. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For Prairie Falcon
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Prairie Falcon
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.