Peregrine Falcon

Hey guys, welcome back! Today, the fastest animal on the planet; the peregrine falcon! So, yes, let’s get this out of the way right at the top. The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on earth. In a dive, they can reach speeds approaching 200 miles per hour! They are built for speed, and thus are very aerodynamic. But, some of you may be thinking that reaching those speeds in a dive is cheating a bit. And yeah, this isn’t untrue. I was recently asked by a visitor to the Nature Center I work what the fastest bird in a sustained flight was. After a bit of research, it appears the consensus is the common swift of Eurasia which can fly about 70mph. (however the fastest flying animal isn’t a bird at all!)

Peregrine falcon atop a utility pole, Fairport Nursery Road, Fairport, OH

The peregrine falcon is a dark slate gray above, with a light, streaked breast and belly. They sport the falcon trademark “moustache” their face. They have yellow skin visible around their eyes as well. In terms of size, although they are one of the largest falcons in the world, they are still smaller than large hawks such as the Red-tailed hawk. They are one of the most widespread birds on the planet as well. In all there are generally 19 subspecies recognized, and combined they are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica! This includes several island nations in the Pacific Ocean. Pretty impressive.

Peregrine falcons are becoming more common in urban areas, often nesting atop skyscrapers in big cities. Here in Cleveland there’s been a pair on the Terminal Tower for nearly 20 years (numerous pairs have fought for the spot over the years with new females winning the right to nest there.) and in New York City when I lived there (and presumably still to this day) there was a pair atop the Riverside Church on 120th and Riverside Dr, across from Grant’s Tomb. Despite having seen both these pairs, and a few others, I have few good shots of them. The featured pic in today’s post is of Cairo, the education Peregrine at Penitentiary Glen Reservation where I’m currently working. The name is a reference to ancient Egypt where Peregrines were used in falconry. The other picture I snapped just earlier this week while searching in vain for short-eared owls! Well, tomorrow is the first day of March- wait! It’s a leap year, isn’t it? Well, enjoy the extra day of February. I’ll see you back here in March when we’ll head back to the world of warblers! See you then!

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