Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) is a predatory bird that is 15 inches in length and has a wingspan of 40 inches. It is one of the larger falcons and has the typical short and hooked beak, as seen on many birds of prey. This falcon has pale coloring over its throat and breast, with a black colored cap and a black ‘mustache’. These markings are in direct contrast to its white face. Its upper body parts are gray, black and white barred plumage under the wings and barred belly. White and gray bands are noticeable on the thin tail. Both sexes are similar in appearance, with the female being larger.

The Peregrine Falcon is one the most commonly found birds of prey, located across most of the continents, with the exception of oceanic islands and the continent of Antarctica. This predatory bird is an extremely powerful and agile falcon. It preys on small birds, ducks, bats and smaller mammals. The Peregrine Falcon has a record-setting flight ability and is able to swoop down on prey at 320 kilometers an hour, in a drop. It can chase its prey at speeds of 112 kilometers an hour. Although the falcon is capable of these spectacular speeds, it usually averages 40 to 55 kilometers an hour during flight. Its strong flying ability is also demonstrated by its migration, when some birds have been recorded to have traveled over 25 000 kilometers.

During the breeding season, the Peregrine Falcon will construct its nest on sea cliffs, rock faces or quarries. If the falcon is located in cities or towns, it will choose a high building for nesting. Falcons mate for life and will more than often return to the same breeding site each year. Their acrobatic maneuvers, deep dives and breathtaking spirals that are done in mid air as part of their courtship, is an amazing sight. The female will lay two to five eggs that are reddish brown in color and have dark spots. Both the male and female will take part in the 29 to 32 day incubation period. After the chicks have hatched, the female will remain in the nest to protect her chicks, while the male hunts. It generally takes 35 to 42 days for the chicks to fledge the nest, after which they will remain close by, until they have perfected their flying and hunting techniques.

The Peregrine Falcon bordered on the fringes of extinction due to pesticides, egg collectors, and the persecution of landowners. Fortunately, the crisis has been averted by the protection and control of pesticide usage, and breeding programs that have been able to release the falcons back into the wild thus increasing the population.

Spectacular Birding on the Isle of Mull

August 1, 2008 by  
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The beautiful Isle of Mull is Scotland’s fourth largest island and a popular tourist destination for a number of reasons, one of them being that it offers superb bird watching opportunities in a wide variety of habitats. The island’s mountains, moorlands, sea lochs, hill lochans, damp boggy marshes and wide sandy beaches are home to many local species of birds, as well as a host of migrants at different times of the year.

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The National Birds of Prey Center in Gloucestershire

June 25, 2008 by  
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The National Birds of Prey Center, located near Newent in Gloucestershire, is one of Britain’s premiere attractions and one of the top birds of prey centers in the United Kingdom. It is home to roughly 170 different birds of prey, including 22 species of eagles, falcons and hawks – a real treat for any bird lover or falconer.

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Falconry Part 1: Origins and Applications

October 19, 2007 by  
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Falconry is a sport that involves the training of birds of prey to hunt game for their trainers. Although not all birds of prey are falcons, the previous use of the term “hawker” when hawks were used for hunting has come to commonly be used as a term describing traveling traders. For this reason the term “hawker” has fallen into disuse, with “falconer” and “falconry” applying to the sport irrespective of the species of bird used.

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