How to identify falcons

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How to identify falcons

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The Peregrine falcon is a bird of prey that can be found all over Northern America. Nesting pairs have been found as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as the tropics. Despite the Peregrine’s large range there really aren’t that many birds. Falcon experts believe that there are approximately 1,650 nesting pairs in the United States and Canada.


Step One

Determine what you're seeing: If you suspect that you are looking at a peregrine falcon, the first thing you should consider is the size of the bird. Although large for a falcon, the Peregrine Falcon is the same size as a crow, putting it in the middle of the average size of birds of prey. When fully grown, the Peregrine’s wing span measures 3 ½ feet across. They weigh about two pounds and their bodies range from 15-20 inches long. Female Peregrine Falcons are usually a little larger then their male partners.


Step Two

Decide if it's a Peregrin falcon: If the bird you are looking at fits the size requirements of a peregrine falcon you need to look at the color of the bird’s back and the top of its wings. The feathers should be a dark blue gray color, not unlike the color of a storm cloud on the horizon.


Step Three

Check out the underside: The underside of the peregrine falcon can range from a buff color to a dirty cream. Most Peregrine falcon’s breasts are lightly speckled with random darker colors.


Step Four

Examine the talons: A Peregrine’s talons are extremely long and powerful looking. The legs will be a bright yellow and the talons are black. Peregrine has a beak that looks like it has been dipped in black ink and is dangerously curved.


Step Five

Analyze the face: The Peregrine falcon has a very distinctively marked head and face. The top of the head is covered with a cap of black feathers, while the bird’s face and throat are white. A black teardrop shape can be seen under each of the bird’s eyes.


Step Six

Watch it hunt: The Peregrine falcon’s most distinctive feature is the way it hunts. The falcon dines on song birds that it catches in flight. In order to capture the birds, the falcon flies high above and then dives downward. When it dives, the Peregrine falcon reaches speeds as great as 200 miles per hour.


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