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Juvenile male peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) stretching whilst perched on scaffolding

Peregrine falcon

Falco peregrinus

Key Facts

  • Length: 40-54cm
  • Wingspan: 1.2m
  • Weight: 670g-1.1kg
  • Average lifespan: 6 years
  • Conservation status
  • Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
  • When to see: January to December

Like many of our birds of prey, the peregrine falcon was so persecuted, numbers fell dramatically. Thankfully, this super-speedy flyer is now making a comeback, particularly in our towns, where it nests on tall buildings.

About

Until recently, the peregrine falcon was only found in the north and west of the UK. Yet, over the last couple of decades, it has been spreading south. In recent years, it has found some unusual nest sites, including Derby Cathedral and the BT Tower in Birmingham! These tall, city structures replicate the precipitous cliff edges that it would naturally nest on.

How to identify

The peregrine is our biggest falcon; it is dark slate-grey above and white below, with black bars across its chest and belly. It has a white throat and cheeks, and a strong, black moustache and mask.

Distribution

Nests in North and South West England, Wales and Scotland on coastal cliffs, but is increasingly being seen throughout the country.

Habitats

Did you know?

Peregrines are among the fastest animals on the planet, reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour when ‘stooping’ – diving down on its prey from a great height. Prey is usually taken mid-air and consists mostly of birds like feral pigeons and collared doves.

How you can help peregrine falcons

We work with planners, developers and landowners to help make our towns and cities as good for wildlife as they are for people. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining us.

Watch

A brilliant online talk with urban peregrine expert, Ed Drewitt. Ed takes an in-depth look at the fascinating lives of urban peregrines and why they love cities, such as Sheffield, so much! Ed has been studying urban-dwelling peregrines for 23 years and is currently doing a part-time PhD at the University of Bristol looking at what they eat (and the Sheffield nest is one of Ed’s study sites). Throughout this talk he explores what makes an urban peregrine tick, why they are using our towns and cities and what we are finding out about them, including their unusual hunting behaviours. We are also joined by fantastic representatives from Sheffield Bird Study Group talking about the founding of Sheffield Peregrines and the results of the latest DNA analysis of our birds.

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