Falco Peregrinus – Peregrine Falcon

Falco Peregrinus - Peregrine Falcon in the US

Known as the peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus, commonly known as the duck hawk in North America, is a raptor in the family Falconidae. The peregrine falcon is the world’s fastest bird, reaching over 320 km/h (200 mph) during its signature hunting stoop (high-speed dive). Peregrine falcons are sexually dimorphic, with females being much bigger than males.

Quick Overview: Falco Peregrinus – Peregrine Falcon
Body size: Around 16-20 in (41-51 cm) and a weight of 1499 g (52.91 oz)
Main colors: Blue-Gray, Brown, White, Yellow
Range: Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Peregrine falcon Description

Their size and color vary. These birds have long, tapering wings and a tail that is narrow. Like most raptors, female peregrine falcons are larger. Females are generally 15-20% bigger and 40-50% heavier than men. Peregrine falcons have dark blue-gray or brown backs and light white underbellies. They have white skin, black cheekbones, and dark eyes white rounded yellow. Newborns have darker underparts with streaks rather than bars.

Falco Peregrinus - Peregrine Falcon in the US
Falco Peregrinus – Peregrine Falcon. Photo by: Judy Gallagher


These birds have a length of 16-20 in (41-51 cm) and a weight of 1499 g (52.91 oz). Their wings could range from 43-46 in (109-117 cm).


Peregrine falcons eat mostly birds, up to 99 percent of their food. Columbidae is the most biomass-rich prey group. Aside from mourning doves and pigeons, songbirds and shorebirds are also consumed. They consume reptiles and small animals. Arvicoline rodents (Arvicolinae), squirrels (Sciuridae), and rats (Tadarida) are the most common mammalian prey (Rattus).


Grasslands, tundra, and meadows are preferred habitats for the peregrine. They prefer tundra and coastal environments and are scarce in sub- and tropical regions. A cliff or fissure is their home. They have lately begun to invade cities due to the abundance of pigeons as prey. Breeding has been seen in the Rocky Mountains of North America at 3600 meters.


The peregrine falcon is a day bird. They are solitary when not reproducing and create and defend territory. Territory size varies with food resource density. The distance between nests varied between 3.3 and 5.6 kilometers in northern populations with the greatest densities.

Falco peregrinus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Falconiformes
  • Family: Falconidae
  • Genus: Falco
  • Species: Falco peregrinus

Other common names

Also known as the Duck hawk.

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Peregrine falcon in the USA

Except in rainforests and the Arctic, peregrine falcons are distributed everywhere including throughout the United States. They are a globally distributed terrestrial vertebrate species. Most southern Palearctic and island peregrine falcon populations are resident.

The Peregrine falcon can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Falco Peregrinus – Peregrine Falcon

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