Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Mike Baird/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon
Falco peregrinus
Hawk-like Birds | Family: Falcons, Falconidae

An estimated 14% of the species' North American breeding range lies within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

Following an alarming decline during the 1950s and 1960s, this spectacular falcon, also called the "Duck Hawk," is on the increase again, now that pesticides that caused thinning of eggshells have been banned. After an intensive program of rearing birds in captivity and releasing them in the wild (a process called "hacking"), this large falcon is reclaiming nesting grounds from which it disappeared a few decades ago. A favorite nesting site nowadays is a tall building or bridge in a city; these urban Peregrines subsist mainly on pigeons.

Description

15-21" (38-53 cm). W. 3' 4" (1 m). A large robust falcon with a black hood and wide black "mustaches." Adults slate-gray above and pale below, with fine black bars and spots. Young birds brown or brownish slate above, heavily streaked below.

Voice

Rasping kack-kack-kack-kack, usually heard at nest; otherwise generally silent.

Nesting

2-4 cream or buff eggs, spotted with reddish brown, placed in a scrape with little lining on a cliff or building ledge or in an abandoned bird's nest.

Habitat

Open country, especially along rivers; also near lakes, along coasts, and in cities. Migrates chiefly along coasts.

Range/Migration

Breeds from Alaska and Canadian Arctic south locally through mountainous West, and sparingly in East. Winters coastally, north to British Columbia and Massachusetts. Also in southern South America and Old World.