Peregrine Falcon/Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcon/Falco peregrinus - Photographer: Борис Белчев
Peregrine Falcon/Falco peregrinus - Photographer: Иван Иванов
Peregrine Falcon/Falco peregrinus - Photographer: Иво Дамянов
Peregrine Falcon/Falco peregrinus - Photographer: Чавдар Гечев

L male 38-45 cm, female 46-51 cm, WS male 89-100 cm, female 104-113cm. Circumpolar. Drastic decline owing to biocides and persecution in 1950s and 1960s, since when some recovery. Breeds on steep coastal cliffs or in mountains, also on cliffs in lowlands and on ground on open bogs in taiga. Migrant in north and east. Food small or medium-sized birds, caught in the air after quick horizontal pursuit or spectacular stoop from height with closed wings. Nests on cliff-ledge, rarely in old nest in tree or (esp. in northeastern taiga) on ground.
IDENTIFICATION: Medium-sized to large; pronounced sexual size difference, female larger. Strongest of falcons in relation to size, bulky body, ‘chest-heavy’. Wings pointed, ‘arm’ rather broad, tail medium-length. In flight, wings are usually slightly flexed, carpal bends showing well. Active flight with fairly quick, rather shallow wingbeats, speed moderate. When prey spotted, wing action more determined, and speed suddenly increases. - Adult: Slate-grey above, lower back/rump/ uppertail-coverts paler blue-grey. Underparts white, lower breast/belly finely barred, leaving cheeks/throat/upper breast plain white (most extensive white on male) and contrasting strongly with black hood and broad, distinct moustachial stripe. - Variation: Mediterranean ssp. brookei is slightly smaller, darker above, tinged rufous below, and has some rufous on nape (cf. Barbary Falcon). - Juvenile: Best recognized by prominently streaked (not cross-barred) breast and belly; further, upperparts are brownish, with thin pale fringes along tips of primary and greater coverts; cere and feet dull yellowish-green or bluish-green. Confusion is possible with dark juvenile Gyr Falcon (p.100), but, apart from silhouette and, for males, size, the moustachial stripe is more distinctly broad and black, and does not merge with streaked cheek; underwing uniformly greyish (Gyr has contrastingly dark coverts); undertail-coverts barred or marked with wedge-shaped blotches (not streaked as on Gyr); colour of cere and feet differ on average, Gyr Falcon often having purer blue in 1st winter.
VOICE: Mostly silent away from breeding site. Main call harsh cackling at medium pace, scolding and persistent, sometimes repeated at length, ‘rehk rehk rehk rehk …’, used as alarm and contact-call. Both sexes have a disyllabic, sharp ‘ee-chip’ during display, often in air. Begging-call a vibrant ‘kyi-i-i-ih’.

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