Peregrine Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where are Peregrine Falcons found?
Peregrines live on all continents except Antarctica. Three subspecies of Peregrines are native to the United States, and the American Peregrine Falcon is the one you’re most likely to see here in the Midwest. We have 20+ pairs of Peregrines right here in the Chicagoland area.
2. How fast do Peregrines fly?
In level flying, a Peregrine’s typical speed is 40-55 mph. And while cheetahs are the fastest mammals on Earth, reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour, Peregrines can attain speeds of over 200 mph when diving (called “stooping”) on their prey.
3. What do Peregrines eat?
Peregrines are aerial hunters that capture their prey while in flight—which means their diet is predominantly birds (although they’ll feed on bats, too).
4. Are Peregrines effective in reducing the Pigeon population?
Peregrines cannot be relied upon to patrol a particular building for Pigeons. Peregrines are wild birds that travel anywhere within their large territory.
A breeding pair of Peregrines typically hunts within a territory measuring two to five square miles. The population of Pigeons in this territory will always far outnumber Peregrines, because pigeons breed incredibly rapidly and Peregrines don’t eat only Pigeons.
5. Do Peregrines have natural predators?
Although Peregrines rarely suffer from predation, Great-horned Owls and Golden Eagles will occasionally kill a Peregrine. (Most likely these predators will be able to take down only an immature or sick bird.)
6. How endangered was the Peregrine Falcon?
By the time biologists realized the magnitude of our Peregrine decline, approximately 90% of the historic North American population was lost. To help repair the damage in the Midwest, environmental groups released a total of 1,772 Peregrines over time, from 1981-1997.
Peregrines have since made a marked recovery, resulting in the bird’s removal from the Federal Endangered Species List. Although Peregrines still remain endangered in some states, in Illinois, the population has rebounded. In fact, our Peregrine status has been upgraded from “Endangered” to “Threatened.”
7. How big are Peregrines?
Peregrine’s weigh about 1.25-2.75 pounds and have an average body length of 15-20 inches. Female Peregrines are larger than males.
8. Do Peregrines ever attack the scientists who check on their nests?
Like most animals, Peregrines will often defend their nests. However, they don’t use their talons to tear at an infringing scientist. They merely bump the interloper with the back of their knuckles in an attempt to knock him or her away from the nest.
To protect themselves from parents who might become aggressive, scientists always wear helmets and thick jackets while examining the nest.
9. What is falconry?
Falconry is the art of hunting using trained birds of prey. In the Middle Ages, falconry was called the “sport of kings.” The species a person flew was dictated by their social rank.
Emperor: Golden Eagle, Vulture, & Merlin
King: Gyrfalcon (male & female)
Prince: Female Peregrine
Duke: Rock Falcon (subspecies of the Peregrine)
Baron: Male Peregrine
Squire: Lanner Falcon
Lady: Female Merlin
Yeoman: Goshawk or Hobby
Priest: Female Sparrowhawk
Holywater clerk: Male Sparrowhawk
Knaves, Servants, Children: Old World Kestrel