This weeks post in our UK Birds of Prey series takes a look at the peregrine, one of the traditional species within falconry.
Peregrines can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour when diving, or ‘stopping’, from height to capture its prey mid air, placing it among the fastest animals on the planet. Peregrines hunt smaller birds, such as pigeons and doves, and bats.
Length: 39 – 50cm
Wingspan: 95 – 115cm
Weight: 600 – 1300g
Average lifespan: 6 years.
Number of eggs: 2 – 4
Incubation: 29 – 32 days.
Fledgling time: 35 – 42 days.
The peregrine is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, however throughout much of the 20th century they were at risk of becoming locally extinct within the US and Canada. The decrease in numbers was caused by DDT being used on farmlands and consequently being introduced into the food chain and poisoning the peregrines. DDT was banned in the 1970’s and since then the numbers have increased.
In addition to this, peregrine numbers have seen a decline in Northern Scotland recently which the RSPB theorise may be caused by a reduction in prey or marine pollutants.
Where and When to Find Peregrines
Peregrines can be seen all year round. During breeding season, peregrines can be found above rocky sea cliffs and other upland areas across the UK.
Peregrine nests can be found in North and South West England, Wales and Scotland coastal cliffs, however there has been an increase in sightings throughout the country.
Outside of breeding season, it is not uncommon to find peregrines around urban settings!
Other than the UK, peregrines can be seen around the world, everywhere but Antarctica.