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Falco peregrinus, Wanderfalke, Peregrine Falcon The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), occasionally known in North America as the Duck Hawk, is a medium-sized falcon about the size of a large crow: 380–530 millimetres (15–21 in) long. The English and scientific species names mean "wandering falcon", and refer to the fact that some populations are migratory. It has a wingspan of about 1 m (40 in). Males weigh 570–710 grams; the noticeably larger females weigh 910–1190 grams.
The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on the planet in its hunting dive, the stoop, in which it soars to a great height, then dives steeply at speeds of over 200 mph (322 km/h) into either wing of its prey, so as not to harm itself on impact. The fledglings practice the roll and the pumping of the wings before they master the actual stoop. It should be noted, however, that in level flight the fastest-flying bird is the White-throated Needletail and either animal is often quoted as being the fastest on earth.Peregrine falcons live mostly along mountain ranges, river valleys, coastlines, and increasingly in cities. They are widespread throughout the world and are found in every continent except for Antarctica....Peregrines in mild-winter regions are usually permanent residents, and some birds, especially adult males, will remain on the breeding territory. However, the Arctic subspecies migrate; tundrius birds from Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland migrate to Central and South America, and all calidus birds from northern Eurasia move further south or to coasts in winter.Peregrine Falcons feed almost exclusively on birds, such as doves, waterfowl and songbirds, but occasionally they hunt small mammals, including bats, rats, voles and rabbits. Insects and reptiles make up a relatively small proportion of their diet. Peregrine Falcons also eat their own chicks when starving.
Peregrine Falcons breed at approximately two or three years of age. They mate for life and return to the same nesting spot annually. Their courtship flight includes a mix of aerial acrobatics, precise spirals, and steep dives. The male passes prey it has caught to the female in mid-air. To make this possible, the female actually flies upside-down to receive the food from the male's talons.
Females lay an average clutch of three or four eggs in a scrape, normally on cliff edges or, increasingly, on tall buildings or bridges. They occasionally nest in tree hollows or in the disused nest of other large birds.
The man-made structures used for breeding typically closely resemble the natural cliff ledges that the Peregrine prefers for its nesting locations. The falcons have also been observed swooping down to catch common city birds such as pigeons and Common Starlings. In many cities, the Peregrines have been credited with controlling the numbers of such birds, which have often become pests, without resort to more controversial methods such as poisoning or hunting.
The laying date varies according to locality, but is generally:
• from February to March (in the Northern Hemisphere)
• from July to August (in the Southern Hemisphere)
The females incubate the eggs for twenty-nine to thirty-two days at which point the eggs hatch. While the males also sometimes help with the incubation of the eggs, they only do so occasionally and for short periods.
Thirty-five to forty-two days after hatching, the chicks will fledge, but they tend to remain dependent on their parents for a further two months. The tiercel, or male, provides most of the food for himself, the female, and the chicks; the falcon, or female, stays and watches the young.
The average life span of a Peregrine Falcon is up to seventeen years in the wild, although some have been recorded to live until slightly more than twenty years of age.The Peregrine Falcon became an endangered species because of the overuse of pesticides, during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Pesticide build-up interfered with reproduction, thinning eggshells and severely restricting the ability of birds to reproduce. The DDT build-up in the falcon's fat tissues would result in less calcium in the eggshells, leading to flimsier, more fragile eggs. In several parts of the world, this species was wiped out by pesticides.
Peregrine eggs and chicks are often targeted by thieves and collectors, so it is normal practice not to publicise unprotected nest locations.Source:Wikipedia
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