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Peregrine Falcon


The peregrine is a large and powerful falcon, about the same size as a crow. It has long, broad, pointed wings and a relatively short tail. It is blue-grey above, with a blackish top of the head and an obvious black 'moustache' that contrasts with its white face. Its breast is finely spotted.

Peregrines have, for a long time, suffered illegal killing from gamekeepers and landowners, been a target for egg collectors, and indirectly poisoned through agrochemicals in their food chain. Recently, better legal protection and control of pesticides have helped the population to recover considerably.

The best place to find Peregrines is along rocky sea cliffs and the hills of the UK in the breeding season. East coast marshes where there are large gatherings of birds can be a good place in the winter.

The Peregrine Falcon is often stated to be the fastest animal on the planet in its hunting dive, called the stoop, which involves soaring to a great height and then diving steeply at speeds over 200 mph, then hitting one wing of its prey so as not to harm itself on impact. An official speed test showed a reading of a stoop with a top speed of 242 mph (389 km/h).

The Peregrine feeds almost entirely on medium sized birds such as doves, and pigeons. It rarely hunts small mammals, but will on occasion take rats, voles, hares, mice and squirrels; The Peregrine Falcon nests in a scrape, normally on cliff edges or, today, regularly, on tall buildings. The Peregrine Falcon has been used in falconry for more than 3,000 years, due to its ability to dive at high speeds, it was highly sought-after. Peregrine Falcons are also occasionally used at airports to scare away other birds from the aeroplane engines.

Quick Facts

Number in Britain

Conservation Status

Status in UK
Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor

42 cm

102 cm

M 700g - F 1.1Kg

Egg Size
52x41 mm

Egg Weight
48.0 g

Clutch Size
3 - 4 eggs

31-33 days

39-40 days

Number of Broods

Tundra, moor, seacoast, cities

First Clutches Laid
Early April

Age at First Breeding
2 years

Typical Lifespan
5 years

Maximum Recorded Age
7 years. 2 months

First Record
8th Century