Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus

Order: Falconiformes


Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

Diet Requirements

Veterinary Concerns

Notes on Enrichment & Training


Colony or Breeding Management

Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.

Individual Identification

Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies, like giant millipedes).

Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines



Tips on Presentation

  • As with most program raptors, peregrines are usually jessed and presented on the glove.

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling

  • Transport box suggestions AZAs Ambassador Animals dialog, Raptor Rig and Varikennel.
  • A couple things to keep in mind, if using the handle on the top of the transport box do not rest the bottom on your hip. It will cause the box to bounce; this might lead to an uncomfortable ride and decrease the likelihood that the bird will go in the box on future occasions. If the perch is to low for the bird, their tail feathers may get painted with fecal matter which does not look good on presentation. Varikennel you are able to adjust the height of the perch.

Potential Messaging

Acquisition Information

Non-releaseable birds are occasionally available through wildlife rehabilitation networks. Peregrine falcons are also bred in captivity for falconry purposes.

Comments from the Rating System

  • Henry Vilas Zoo: Quite smart — picks up training quickly, but we have had several set-backs in training/handling
  • Maryland Zoo in Baltimore: Excellent educational content, but requires highly skilled staff, and stresses easily.

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

Worldwide, except Antarctica. Most commonly found in forests, grasslands,deserts, tundra, and urban areas

Physical Description

Peregrine falcons are crow-sized birds of prey with a dark blue-gray back. Their legs and undersides of their wings cream colored with grey barring. All peregrines have a dark-colored “hood” and “mustache” marking on their heads along with a notched, hooked beak. Their wings are long and tapered, and they have long narrow tails. Their feet are bright yellow, with long, powerful toes and sharp talons. Their eyes are set forward to allow them to zero in on prey. Females are noticeably larger than males.

Life Cycle

Peregrine falcons mate for life, returning to the same nest site every year, after an intense and dramatic courtship. They frequently nest on ledges of rocky cliffs or buildings, but will sometimes use abandoned stick nests of other birds. They do not build nests; instead, they scrape a small depression out of the soil, sand, gravel, or dead vegetation. Peregrines typically lay 3-4 eggs, which incubate for approximately one month. The young falcons fledge about 6 weeks after hatching but will remain dependent on their parents for up to two months.


The peregrine falcon is a superb hunter. They hunt mostly during dawn and dusk, when their prey is most active. They use their excellent eyesight to spot prey from a high perch or up in the air. Once the prey is spotted, the peregrine falcon will go into a steep, rapid dive, reaching speeds of up to 200 mph – the fastest speed recorded by any animal! The peregrine will strike the animal with their feet, knocking the prey off course or may even kill it instantly. Their notched beaks are designed to snap the neck of its prey before tearing the meat into bite-sized pieces. For the most part, peregrine falcons have few natural predators, but they are occasionally preyed upon by larger eagles and owls.

Threats and Conservation Status

In 1973, the peregrine falcon was declared an endangered species under the Federal Endangered Species Act. DDT, a pesticide used in the mid-1900s, is believed to be the main contributor to their status. DDT is bioaccumulative, so it has the worst affect on top predators. The accumulated DDT caused female peregrine falcons to lay thin-shelled eggs that were easily broken. DDT was banned in the United States in 1972 and efforts were made to reestablish the wild populations, including captive breeding and release programs. Fortunately, these efforts were successful and the peregrine was taken off the Federal endangered species list in 1999. Individual subspecies and populations around the wild still depend on human action for their long-term survival.

Prejudices against birds of prey still persist among many who wrongly believe that they harm wildlife or present major threats to domestic animals. Biological studies have documented their ecological importance as major controls on rodent populations. Some birds of prey feed on snakes, insects or other potential pests. No species of raptor poses a significant threat to domestic animals.

Instruct guests to never litter, especially when they are in a car. Throwing trash out along the roads not only makes the roads less attractive, but can also attract animals to the sides of the road. Some of these animals might look appetizing to an owl, hawk, or other predator which are then more likely to be hit by passing vehicles.

Did you know…



Contributors and Citations

  • Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, San Jose

photo  credit:

By Buteo_jamaicensis_1.jpg: Alan Vernon derivative work: Berichard (Buteo_jamaicensis_1.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 ( or CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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