Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) is a circumglobal bird of prey in the family Falconidae. Another name for the Peregrine is the “Duck Hawk.” It can reach speeds over 200 miles an hour in a dive.

Peregrine Behavior

The peregrine falcon is a diurnal bird. In non-breeding periods, the peregrine falcon is a solitary bird, establishing and defending home territories. The territory size can vary depending on the availability of food. The largest population densities occur in northern populations where nests average about 3.3 to 5.6 km apart. (reference: White et al. 2002)
Peregrine Falcon home ranges are estimated to be from 177 to 1508 square kilometers. Both males and females will regularly hunt up to 5 km from a nesting site.

What do Peregrine Falcons eat?

Peregrine Falcons are bird predators. While they may eat some other prey, such as small mammals, more than 75 percent of its diet are birds. In particular, peregines enjoy pigeons and doves.

Video: Skydiving to record Peregrine Falcon Speeds

I’m not really sure why it is that both National Geographic and the BBC have decided to do features on peregrines while skydiving, but I could take a guess. Watch the clip below as they take a peregrine falcon high into the air in a hot air balloon, release it, and sky dive with it to the drop zone.

Peregrine Researcher Questionnaire

Byron Crow

Byron is the Director/Research biologist of Field Worx Consulting. He spends all his time studying Peregrine Falcons. The following is a series of questions asked by Untamed Science about what he does.

Untamed Science (US): What do you study now?
Byron Crow (BC): Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) behavior ecology, Predator / Prey interactions

US: What’s the best thing about your job?

BC: Being involved in the environment. Being right there to witness what the outdoors has to offer and sharing these experiences with others. Seeing the expression on people’s faces when “it” hits them that there is a great big, exciting world out there that is actively LIVING.

US: What is the worst thing about your job?

BC: Frustration. There is so much taking place in the environment I always miss something cool happening that others witness. Seeing activities take place without regard to long-term impact. Close-minded people.

US: What inspired you to first study science?

BC: A great biologist who took me to the 50 Mountain region of Glacier National Park to survey for raptors, and said, “I want you to see something”. I have never stopped looking.

US: What do you do in a typical field day?

BC: Is this the part where I say something cool? Well truth be known, I hike through miles of Horse-fly infested Alder, carrying enough equipment to open my own photography studio, so I can sit for hours, baking in the hot sun, under some forsaken cliff, feeding mosquitoes and ticks, looking for the proverbial needle-in-the-haystack.

Scared? It’s not that bad. I drive, hike, and river raft, all over Montana (The Last Great Place) surveying cliffs for Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons, Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, or other raptors that may have established a nest on the cliff. I then observe their activities, production, and note nesting sites.

In 2007, I began a research project that has never been done before, I placed micro-cams in a natural eyrie (in the wilderness, not on a man-made structure) and observed activity that had never been witnessed before. As a friend said, “my “Chuck Yeager” moment”.

US: What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a biologist?

BC: We are educators to ourselves as well as others. Never be afraid to discover, experience, learn, share, and above all, prove yourself wrong. Stay focused, and keep the faith. Remember what your goal is. We are all explorers who want to discover the “new world”, but it is a great big place with a lot of obstacles, so do not be afraid (or too egotistical) to ask for help, and always be ready to lend a hand.

Remember: Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, “WOW, what a ride!” ~ Unknown

Check out this article written about Byron and his work peering into the lives of Peregrin Falcons.


The mission of Field Worx Consulting is to engage in scientific research, conservation, and education activities involving cliff nesting raptors. The scope of research ranges from fundamental to problem solving. FWC research serves to increase an understanding of biological and ecological mechanisms that provide conservationists and wildlife managers with information essential to successful natural resource conservation in today’s dynamic, ever-changing world. The Institutes conservation biology goal is to encourage and develop strategies that employ the results of research to help address ecological issues. The institute also serves to educate the public about the needs of raptor species and their natural resources. The goal of the education venue is to promote the idea that the natural world and all its living organisms possess intrinsic worth. Inherent to this idea is the understanding that humans are not disjunctive from the natural world, but are a part of it, integral members that possess the responsibility of ethically sound stewardship.

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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