Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), iconic bird of prey
This widely distributed bird is found across much of the planet and is known as the "wanderer" or the "Duck Hawk". A bird-eating raptor that is swift in flight, it catches its prey on the wing, reaching speeds greater than 120mph when stooping (diving) for a kill. The lifespan of the Peregrine Falcon in the wild is up to 17 years. For more see here.
What do Peregrines look like?
The Peregrine is a powerful, compact and crow-sized falcon with long broad pointed wings and a relatively short tail. It has a blue-grey back, barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache".
Juveniles are browner, identifiable by the cream band on the end of the tail.
Adults are also identifiable by the yellow cere (a waxy structure which covers the base of the bill) above the beak and a yellow eyering. Juveniles have a bluish/ grey cere and eyering.
The female is approximately one third bigger than the male, but it is often difficult to tell them apart from a distance.
Where do they nest?
Peregrines are territorial with territories well-spaced and their size determined by the abundance of food. Their nest site, known as an eyrie, is usually on a grassy or cliff-ledge, quarry and more recently town/city buildings. The female chooses a nest site, where both birds scrape a shallow hollow in the loose soil, sand, gravel, or dead vegetation using their chests and legs. No nest materials are added.
What are their breeding habits?
Sexually mature at the end of the first year of age, but in healthy populations, they breed after two or three years of age. Peregrines usually pair for life and return to the same nesting spot annually. The courtship flight (usually between late February and late April) includes a mix of aerial acrobatics, precise spirals and steep dives. The male passes the prey he has caught to the female in mid-air where she has to fly upside-down to receive the food from the male's talons. See here for more information on these grand birds.
Egg laying, clutch size and hatching
Egg laying usually occurs from early March to late April at 2-3 day intervals. Clutch size is normally 3-4 eggs with both birds sharing the incubation starting with the last egg.
Incubation takes 31 to 33 days, and the chicks can hatch between late April and early June.
The young fledge (fly) at 35-42 days, and are independent two or more months later.