Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus

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The Peregrine Falcon is one of the smaller raptor species on the Oregon Coast. This striking bird is approximately the same size as an American Crow with a dark gray back, a tawny colored belly separated by white lines, and a yellow beak and talons. Falcons reach sexual maturity at approximately one year old. Like other raptors that prey on birds, the Peregrine is sexually dimorphic. This means that females are considerably larger than males – probably an adaptation that aids in hunting and rearing of young. The bird’s keen eyesight allows it to spot potential prey from a great height. The falcon will often drift on the ocean breezes far above populations of sea and shore birds. When it spots a meal, the falcon will launch into a steep dive (known as a “stoop”) and snatch the other bird out of the air. The falcon’s speed during these dives has been clocked in excess of 200 mph (322 kph), making it the fastest animal species on earth.

Range and Habitat

The Peregrine is one of the most widespread bird species on the planet. It can be found on every major landform with the exception of New Zealand and Antarctica, surviving just as handily in a tropical forest as it does in arctic tundra. Along the Oregon coastline, falcons can be commonly seen over the headlands and mud-flats frequented by other bird species.

Conservation Status

Common. During the middle part of the twentieth century, many American populations of Peregrine Falcons were list as endangered due to problems with contamination by the pesticide DDT. After DDT was banned in the 1970s, however, these populations steadily recovered and today maintain healthy numbers.