- Photo: Daniel Manrique
Peregrine Falcon are one of the fastest and strongest birds in the world, achieving speeds of over 200 mph in a stoop (dive).
Sixteen inches long with a wingspan of 41 inches the Peregrine falcon has pointed wings, stiff flight feathers and special muscular adaptations combined to make the Peregrine Falcon one of the fastest and strongest birds in the world, achieving speeds of over 200 mph in a stoop (dive).
It was used for hunting by aristocratic falconers for almost a thousand years. The dark “mustache” and “helmet” are unmistakable field marks. It nests on cliffs and sometimes on tall buildings. It hunts medium-size birds like doves and ducks from high in the sky over open country, striking its prey a powerful blow with its talons. The bird in the photograph is mantling (covering recently killed prey with its wings to hide it from potential robbers).
Since it is at the top of the food chain, its numbers (along with those of other birds) were greatly reduced with the widespread use of DDT after World War II. A metabolic derivative (DDE) causes the eggshells to become very weak and break before incubation completion. After DDT was banned, the Peregrine made a comeback and is now off the endangered species list. Ironically, though use of DDT is banned in this country, its manufacture is not, and even today DDT is exported from the U.S. and used by countries to which many birds migrate to and from the U.S.
Although the Peregrine Falcon occurs in the Santa Catalina Mountains, this photograph was taken in Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains.