Wildlife In Focus | Peregrine Falcon

David Coultham

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Species Guide : Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

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Video | Peregrine Falcon – All You Need To Know


The Peregrine Falcon is a muscular bird physically and certainly looks the part with a rather stocky build. They have a bluish-grey back, a black head, with a distinctive moustache and barred white chest and tummy.

Did You Know? The name Peregrine Falcon and its scientific name Falco peregrinus translates to the term “wandering falcon” and refers to the birds migratory nature.


The Peregrine Falcon predominantly hunts birds, such as pigeons, ducks. They will also opportunistically hunt small mammals.


They can be found over much of the U.K. with the exception of higher ground. They have also adapted very well to urban environments, taking advantage of tall buildings to nest from, and as a vantage point to hunt from.

Sadly, it is in urban environments that you are most likely to see these animals, as despite their protected status; they continue to be persecuted by mankind. This is particularly the case in upland areas where they hunt game birds and pigeon, and are therefore illegally targeted by landowners.

Did You Know? The Peregrine Falcon can be found around the globe on all major landmasses with the exception of the arctic regions, rainforests, the highest mountains, and oddly New Zealand. This makes it the most wide-spread of all the raptor species.

Note that this map is for a rough illustration of animal distribution across the UK1, whereby light green indicates occurrence in accordance with EBBA data.


The Peregrine Falcon reaches sexual maturity from 1 year of age, with pairs mating for life and returning to the same nesting spots each year. Courting pairs can sometimes be seen performing aerial acrobatics with the male passing food to the female, and the female even flying upside down to retrieve it.

They typically nest on the edges of cliffs, but will also take to manmade structures such as cathedrals and pylons. They don’t collect nest materials, preferring to find areas where they can form a small hollow. They have one brood each year consisting of up to 4 eggs, which are incubated for up to 32 days and are fully fledged after a further 40 days, but remain partially dependent upon their parents for up to two months.

Did you know? The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on the planet, reaching speeds of over 200mph during a high-speed dive. The fastest recorded speed4 of the Peregrine Falcon is cited as being 242 mph!

Peregrine Falcon Call:

Xavier Riera, xeno-canto.org


Wingspan295-115 cm
Body Weight3600-1300 grams
Longevity57 Years


They have no natural predators, but their nests are often predated upon by ravens, gulls, and some mammals.

Conservation Status

The species was significantly impacted up to the 1960’s due to the use of pesticides in their food chain, as well as persecution. They now benefit from legal protection, and numbers have since increased; with the exception of upland areas where numbers have declined due to illegal persecution.

Conservation Status

Conservation Status


  1. Population data based on European Breeding Bird Atlas (EBBA)
  2. Featherbase
  3. RSPB
  4. Tom Harpole “Falling with the Falcon”. Smithsonian Air & Space magazine. 1 March 2005. 
  5. BTO
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