Thursday, 6 March 2014

176. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Peregrine Falcons are very widespread indeed, hence their name which I believe means wanderer. They are found on all continents except Antarctica, and are resident in some areas and migratory in others. In the UK, where they are resident, although historically they suffered greatly from persecution and pesticide bioaccumulation, they are now on the increase again and are even colonising urban areas - to them, high-rise concrete and stone buildings look a lot like their more 'natural' habitat of steep rocky cliffs and mountains, and there are plenty of Feral Pigeons to eat too. Here in Birmingham I see them pretty regularly as a pair live on 'Old Joe', the very tall red brick clock tower at the centre of the University of Birmingham campus where I work. They can also be seen in Birmingham city centre where they reside on the BT tower; some reckon though that their breeding success has been negatively affected by the radiation emitted by the tower.

Peregrine Falcons are quite chunky, they need those muscles to enable them to fly at awesome speeds to catch their prey in mid-air. In flight they can appear 'anchor-shaped', with pointed wings and quite a short, straight tail. Although plumage is similar in both sexes, females are noticeably bigger than males; there is usually no overlap in their sizes. Juveniles look like a browner version of the adults, having buff underparts which are streaked rather than barred.

Peregrine Falcon, ©Ltshears, via Wikimedia Commons.
Peregrine Falcon painting.
My Peregrine looks a bit gaunt! Quite please with the blue-grey shades though.

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