Peregrine Falcon

(Falco peregrinus)


Peregrine Falcon IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The Peregrine Falcon is a large, stocky falcon, with a relatively short tail. It has a prominent moustache usually evident in all ages. Plumage colour is rather variable, with upperparts in various tones of blue, grey or black; underparts are white to rufous, crossed with variable bars. Legs and feet are bright yellow. The bill is slate-blue and black tipped. There's a noticeable size dimorphism, with females being 15-20 % larger than males. Juveniles have upperparts with tones of black to pale brown; underparts are streaked.

Did you know?
that, in the 1940s, peregrine falcons started suffering significant declines due to indiscriminate use of the pesticide DDT. After several years scientists found unusually high concentrations of the pesticide DDT and its breakdown product DDE in peregrine falcons and other birds of prey. The peregrines accumulated DDT in their tissues by feeding on birds that had eaten DDT-contaminated insects or seeds. The toxic chemical interfered with eggshell formation by interrupting the calcium metabolism. As a result, falcons laid eggs with shells so thin they often broke during incubation or otherwise failed to hatch. Because too few young were raised to replace adults that died, peregrine populations declined precipitously.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Falco peregrinus
Name (English) Peregrine Falcon
Name (French) Faucon pêlerin
Name (German) Wanderfalke
Name (Spanish) Halcón Peregrino
Local names Afrikaans: Slegvalk
Italian: Pellegrino
Romansh: Falcun pelegrin
Swedish: Pilgrimsfalk
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Appendix II (as Falconidae spp.)



Photo Copyright by
Valerie Abbott



Range Almost cosmopolitan. With the exception of Antarctica, New Zealand, and Iceland, the peregrine is found around the globe.
Habitat Extremely variable: it breeds from hot tropics to cold, wet marine habitat; arid hot or cold deserts; from sea-level to c. 4000 m. Found almost anywhere during migration, even landing on ships in the Central Pacific Ocean. There are unexpected gaps in the breeding distribution, e.g. Iceland, Newfoundland, tropical Central and South America, and New Zealand.
Wild population Not globally threatened. Serious population declines occurred from mid-1960's to the mid-1970's, as a result of eggshell breakage, mortality of embryos and some mortality of adults from chlorinated hydrocarbon (DDT) contaminations. These chemicals were banned in most countries, and numbers currently returning, or have already returned, to pre-chemical levels.
Zoo population 113 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Peregrine Falcon


How this animal should be transported

Untrained birds travel better in completely dark boxes, with a carpeted floor and roof, with an upwards sliding door at one end and no perch. As a general rule, trained birds are easier to manage in boxes with a carpeted perch at the right height to give plenty of head and tail room, and with a hinged side opening door.

For air transport, Container Note 20 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Valerie Abbott

Why do zoos keep this animal

In a few cases, pergerines are kept with a view of providing offspring to reintroduction projects. Most peregrines are, however, kept for educational reasons. This makes sense in particular if the birds are displayed in commented free flight demonstrations.

It may also be that zoos accept to care for injured birds, which cannot be returned to the wild.