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Peregrine Falcon
Falco peregrinus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Arctic Peregrine Falcon (tundrius), Barbary Falcon, Black-cheeked Falcon (macropus), Black Shaheen (peregrinator), Cape Verde Peregrine (madens), Cassins' Peregrine Falcon (cassini), Duck Hawk (anatum), Peale's Falcon (pealei), Peregrine, Red-capped Falcon, Red-naped Shaheen (babylonicus), Shaheen (peregrinator), Siberian Peregrine Falcon (calidus).

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Falco peregrinus
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Distribution: Afrotropical/Australasian/ Indomalayan/Nearctic
. The most cosmopolitan bird species, breeding on every continent except Antarctica. more....

Subspecies: 19 races. F. p. anatum: Breeds in North America south of tundra in CANADA and UNITED STATES to northern MEXICO (Baja California, Sinaloa, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi); CUBA (1 record); winters from southern UNITED STATES to ARGENTINA?; F. p. babylonicus: Asia from eastern IRAN to MONGOLIA and PAKISTAN; F. p. brookei: Southern FRANCE, SPAIN and coastal North Africa through Mediterranean to Caucasus; F. p. calidus: Eurasian tundra from Lapland east to northeastern SIBERIA Yana River and Indigirka River); winters in northeastern and eastern CHINA, south to SOUTH AFRICA and BORNEO; F. p. cassini: Western South America from ECUADOR south through BOLIVIA (Cochabamba), PERU (Cuzco, Juní Lambayeque, Piura), and northern ARGENTINA to southern CHILE, TIERRA DEL FUEGO and FALKLAND ISLANDS; north in non-breeding season to COLOMBIA; F. p. ernesti: Malay Peninsula, INDONESIA and PHILIPPINES east to NEW GUINEA and BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO; F. p. furuitii: Formerly VOLCANO Islands (and possibly Bonin Islands), but may now be extinct; F.p. japonensis: Northeastern SIBERIA south to Kamchatka, JAPAN, and TAIWAN; F. p. macropus: AUSTRALIA (except for the Southwest) and TASMANIA; F. p. madens: CAPE VERDE IS.; F. p. minor: Africa south of Sahara and north into extreme S MOROCCO; F. p. nesiotes: VANUATU and NEW CALEDONIA east to FIJI; F. p. pealei: Coastal western North America from western ALASKA through Aleutian and Commander Islands (possibly also coastal Kamchatka and Kuril Islands), and coastal British Columbia to western Washington; F. p. pelegrinoides: CANARY ISLANDS east through inland North Africa to IRAQ and probably western IRAN; F. p. peregrinator: PAKISTAN, INDIA and SRI LANKA east to southeastern CHINA; F. p. peregrinus: Eurasia south of tundra and north of the Pyrenees, Balkans and Himalayas from BRITISH ISLES east to Amurland and Ussuriland in Russian Far East; F. p. radama: MADAGASCAR and COMORO ISLANDS; F. p. submelanogenys: Southwestern AUSTRALIA; F. p. tundrius: Arctic tundra of North America from ALASKA to GREENLAND; winters in South America as far south as CHILE and ARGENTINA. more....

Taxonomy: Formerly placed in the genus Rhynchodon. The "Barbary Falcon," including the races pelegrinoides and babylonicus, has often been treated as a separate species, but molecular analyses have shown little, if any, divergence between these populations and other peregrine subspecies (Seibold et al. 1993, Wink et al. 2000). According to cytochrome b analyses by Wink and Sauer-Gurth (2000), F. peregrinus does not show much haplotype variation, implying that it is either a young taxon, or that there is frequent gene flow between the subspecies. Analyses of nucleotide sequences in the cytochrome b gene also showed that the F. peregrinus-F. pelegrinoides complex forms a sister group to the "Hierofalco" group, which includes the Gyrfalcon, Lagger Falcon, Saker Falcon, and Lanner Falcon (Wink and Sauer-Gürth 2000, 2004, Wink et al. 2004). The South American "Falco kreyenborgii", formerly regarded as a separate species (Meyer de Schauensee 1970, Blake 1977, Stresemann and Amadon 1979), proved to be a color morph of F. peregrinus cassini (Ellis et al. 1981, Ellis and Grant 1983), as had been suggested earlier by Hellmayr and Conover (1949). Peters (1931) treated kreyenborgi as a race of F.p. cassini. more....

Movements: Higher latitude populations are generally complete, long-distance migrants, and those in lower latitudes are sedentary, although they may be somewhat nomadic during the non-breeding season. The migratory populations utilize each of the five great migratory flyways described by Bildstein (2006). In the Americas, the annual round trip from the northern Arctic to regions near Antarctica can involved at least 22,000 km (Sick 1993). Juveniles tend to disperse very widely in their first year, but birds from more southerly and insular populations are largely sedentary thereafter. Birds breeding on Tierra del Fuego migrate north to the South American mainland in the austral winter (Humphrey et al. 2004), and individuals of austral South American cassini may move as far north as Colombia during the non-breeding season. In Australia, adults may disperse irregularly during climatic extremes, e.g., prolonged droughts, or exhibit minor movements at extremes of their ranges (Blakers et al. 1984). more....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in a tremendous variety of habitats throughout its enormous range, but the availability of cliffs or buildings for nesting and roosting is a common denominator of most peregrine home ranges. In Scotland and many other parts of the world, especially North America, pairs are increasingly moving into man-made sites, including lowland quarries (both active and disused), building ledges, bridges, and storage towers (Etheridge et al. 2006). In the Cayman Islands and other Neotropical localities, migrants and wintering birds occur along shores and bluffs, mangrove and Conocarpus sp. forest and shrubland, lagoons and ponds, secondary and freshwater wetlands, and over dry forest and scrubland (Bradley 2000). Usually occurs singly or in pairs, although migrating or wintering birds may congregate on beaches, marshlands, and even over agricultural fields behind farm equipment (Pyle and Howell 1993). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on birds, including poultry in many areas. Also takes bats (Ash and Miskell 1998). Most prey is taken on the wing, following an incredibly rapid stoop or by swift aerial pursuit, but it also still-hunts from an exposed perch. At sea, ships provide high perches from which peregrines launch attacks on storm-petrels and other seabirds (Woods and Woods 2006). Prey is often dismembered and eaten in flight. Pairs sometimes hunt in tandem. more....

Breeding: Nests mainly in scrapes on cliff ledges, but there are local tree-nesting populations which use the old nests of other species, and city buildings, bridges, and other man-made structures are now favored nest sites in many parts of the world. On rare occasions they are even know to nest on the ground, usually on islands were there is an absence of nest predators and in proximity to prey (Boettcher & Mojica 2016). Clutch size is 3-4 eggs in most regions, but ranges from 2-6. The eggs are creamy white, heavily suffused with markings of reddish-brown. Both parents participate in incubation, which typically lasts for 32-35 days (White et al. 2002), but most is done by the female. Both parents feed the young, but typically the male captures prey and delivers it to the female. The nestling period is 35-42 days (Sherrod et al. 1981), with some variation between subspecies. The young remain dependent on the parents for up to five weeks after fledging. At temperate and tropical latitudes, replacement clutches are often laid if the first is lost. Most pairs have alternative nest sites, which are used in some years. more....

Conservation: The Peregrine Falcon was the first species for which the eggshell thinning effects of DDE, a breakdown metabolite of the pesticide DDT, were documented (Ratcliffe 1967, Hickey and Anderson 1968, Cade et al. 1971). Its rapid decline and subsequent recovery during the last half of the 20th century is one of the best documented conservation case histories on record. Following near universal bans on the use of DDT in the 1970s and 1980s, the species recovered throughout its vast range, and some populations are larger now than before the introduction of synthetic pesticides. Peregrines and other large falcons still face the usual problems of persecution and habitat loss in many areas, and the sport of rock-climbing has made some former nest sites unusable. However, losses from these sources have been somewhat offset by the increasing number of peregrines nesting in cities on large buildings and bridges, a trend that has increased both the nesting distribution and density of the species on almost every continent. As elsewhere, the European population increased markedly between 1970-1990, and almost all populations, except for those in Turkey, continued to inrease from 1990-2000. The peregrine was evaluated as "Secure" in Europe by BirdLife International (2004), and it is now categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: The European population was estimated at 7,600 to 11,000 breeding pairs (BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council 2000), but this was soon revised upward to the broad range of 12,000 to 25,000 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). A nationwide survey of peregrines in the United States and Alaska in 2003 yielded an estimate of 3,005 nesting pairs (Green et al. 2006). The most recent (2005) nationwide survey in Canada indicated that there were at least 969 mature anatum and 199 tundrius Peregrine Falcons, but these numbers were thought to be lower than the actual population, especially for tundrius (COSEWIC 2009). These totals contrast wildly with the 2004 estimate by Partners in Flight of a global popualtion of 1,200,000 individuals, with 23% (= 276,000) birds in Canada and the United States. more....

Important References: 
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
Cade, T.J., J.H. Enderson, C.G. Thelander, and C.M. White (eds.). 1988.
  Peregrine Falcon populations: their management and recovery. The Peregrine
  Fund, Inc., Boise, ID. 949 pp.
Farmer, C.J., L.J. Goodrich, E. Ruelas Inzunzas, and J.P. Smith. 2007.
  Conservation status of North American raptors. Conservation status report:
  Peregrine Falcon. http://hawkmountain.org/media/peregrineCSR_June07.pdf.
Fischer, W. 1977. [The Peregrine Falcon]. Neue Brehm-Bücherei no. 380. A.
  Ziemsen Verlag, Wittenberg Lutherstadt, Germany. (In German)
Hickey, J.J. (ed.). 1968. Peregrine Falcon populations: their biology and
  decline. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 596 pp.
Hickey, J.J., and D.W. Anderson. 1968. Chlorinated hydrocarbons and
  eggshell changes in raptorial and fish-eating birds. Science 162:271-273.
Monneret, R.-J. 2000. Le faucon pèlerin. 2nd ed. Delachaux and Niestle,
  Lausanne, Switzerland.
Peakall, D.B. 1974. DDE: its presence in peregrine eggs in 1948. Science
Ratcliffe, D.A. 1967. Decrease in eggshell weight in certain birds of
  prey. Nature 215:208-210.
Ratcliffe, D.A. 1983. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. T & AD Poyser, London.
Sherrod, S.K. 1983. Behavior of fledgling peregrines. The Peregrine Fund,
  Inc., Ithaca, NY.
Weaver, J.D., and T.J. Cade. 1991. Falcon propagation: a manual on captive
  breeding. 3rd ed. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, ID.
White, C.M. 1994. Peregrine Falcon. Pp. 274-275 in del Hoyo, J., A.
  Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New
  World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
White, C.M., N.J. Clum, T.J. Cade, and W.G. Hunt. 2002. Peregrine Falcon
  (Falco peregrinus). In A. Poole and F. Gill (eds.), The Birds of North
  America no. 660. Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and American
  Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Current Research: Sightings of color-ringed peregrines in southern Africa should be reported to Andrew Jenkins at andrewjenkins@uct.ac.za or 082-959-9238.

Sites of Interest:
The Peregrine Fund
Captive breeding and reintroduction of United States populations; field studies in Greenland.
Midwest Peregrine Falcon Restoration
Maintains a long-term program to re-establish peregrine populations in the Upper Midwestern United States
Arbeitskreis Wanderfalkenschutz
A working group for the protection of the peregrine in the Pfalz region of Germany.
Montana Peregrine Institute
Dedicated to the study of the Peregrine Falcon and other cliff-nesting raptors in Montana and surrounding states.
The Raptor Resource Project
Devoted to the restoration of peregrine populations in upper midwestern U.S.A.
The Center for Conservation Biology
Focused on the restoration and management of peregrines in Virginia.
Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology
Conducts an investigation of peregrine biology, specifically demographics related to long term breeding success on the Cape Peninsula.
Victorian Peregrine Project
A long term population study involving banding Peregrine Falcons across Victoria, Australia
Dutch Peregrine Workgroup
Monitors breeding peregrines in the Netherlands.
Morro Rock Peregrines
Details on one of the most famous peregrine nest sites in California.
AG Wanderfalkenschutz Heidelberg
An elaborate site devoted to the peregrine in Heidelberg, Germany
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Wanderfalkenschutz -- AGW-SH
Devoted to the peregrine in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Polish Peregrine Nest-cam
Monitors the activity at a peregrine nest in Poland.
British Trust for Ornithology Peregrine Survey
Results from the 2002 peregrine survey in the United Kingdom.
Falcon Research Group
The "Southern Cross Peregrine Project" involves the real-time tracking of seven peregrines recently tagged in Chile as they migrate to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.
Peregrine Falcon photos.
Cleveland FalconCam
Urban nest site in Cleveland, Ohio now occupied for 8 years.
Middle East Falcon Research Group
Promotes many aspects of falcons and falconry
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations,
Boise Peregrine Falcon Webcam
Live cam at a peregrine nest on a downtown Boise building.
A site maintained by Knud Falk and Søren Møller, presenting the results of their peregrine studies in South Greenland since 1981.
Aves de Rapina do Brasil
Species account with emphasis on Brazil.

Afan, Donald
Aldana, Fernando
Allen, Deborah
Andersen, David
Anderson, Clifford "Bud"
Andreasen, Niels Peter
Balakrishnan, Peroth
Balza, Ulises
Barbar, Facundo
Beers, Roy
Beingolea, Oscar
Berry, Robert
Bird, David M.
Burnham, Kurt K.
Cade, Tom J.
Caldarella, Matteo
Catanach, Therese
Davis, Kate
De Lucca, Eduardo Raul
de Marcken de Merken, Juan
Delos Santos, Johannes
Deshmukh, Dr. Vaibhav
Dibos, Jose Luis
Dobrev, Dobromir
Ellis, David H.
Enderson, James
Escobar Gimpel, Víctor Mauricio
Eulaers, Igor
Franke, Alastair
Franklin, Jon
Fuller, Mark
Galmes, Maximiliano Adrián
Galushin, Vladimir
Germi, Francesco
Gómez, César
Goodrich, Laurie
Gregory, Tim
Gurung, Surya
Hall, Wendy
Hardey, Jon
Heinrich, William R.
Henny, Charles ("Chuck")
Hetzler, Brent
Hunt, Grainger
Jenkins, Andrew
Juergens, Paul W.
Kang, Seunggu
Karyakin, Igor
Kim Chye, Lim
Koskimies, Pertti
Kothe, Sudhanshu
Le Manh, Hung
Lim, Aun -Tiah
Lima, Fernando
Lincer, Jeff
Linthicum, Janet
Lisboa, Jorge
Ma, Ming
Martinez-Fernandez, Alberto
Matz, Angela
McGrady, Mike
McIntyre, Carol
Middleton, Angus
Millsap, Brian
Mojica, Libby
Moore, Stan
Naoroji, Rishad K.
Newton, Ian
Nikolenko, Elvira
Oestlyngen, Arve
Olsen, Jerry
Olsen, Penny
Ospina, Alex
Pagel, Joel (Jeep)
Panke, Pritish
Paulini, Hugo
Pereyra Lobos, Roberto
Pickford, Terry
Pokrovsky, Ivan
Potapov, Eugene
Prommer, Mátyás
Prostor, Mark
Ragyov, Dimitar
Redig, Patrick T.
Restani, Marco
Risebrough, Robert W.
Ritchie, Robert J.
Rodriguez, Ramiro Ezequiel
Rodríguez, Airam
Rodríguez Santana, Freddy
Saharudin, Muhd Hakim
Sandfort, Cal
Sandor, Attila
Santos, Kassius Klay
Sarasola, José Hernán
Schmitt, N. John
Schröpfer, Libor
Severinghaus, Lucia Liu
Sherrod, Steve K.
Sielicki, Janusz
Silva-Quintas, Carlos
Smith, George
Smith, Brian
Smith, Jeff
Sokolov, Alexander
Stephenson, Alan
Suparman, Usep
Sutton, Luke
Szabo, John
Taranto, Paolo
Thelander, Carl
Torrento Marselles, Josep R.
Varland, Dan
Verma, Saurabh
Villamil Tamayo, Marcel
Watts, Bryan
White, Clayton M.
Widmer, Eric
Wijaya, Sasmita
Yotsova, Tsvetomira
Zuberogoitia, Iñigo

Last modified: 9/13/2016

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 23 Jan. 2022

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