The peregrine falcon is the largest British falcon and perhaps the most impressive hunter of them all.


Food and Hunting

Birds are the peregrine's favourite prey, ranging from small meadow pipits to larger birds such as red grouse and pigeons, although birds as big as a Brent goose may be tackled. In winter, estuary birds are often preyed on, such as ducks, gulls and waders. The falcon may also hunt rabbits and bats. Most victims are caught in the air; the peregrine circles high in the air, keeping a sharp eye out for prey. It can spot prey on the ground from a height of 300 metres. When a victim is spotted, the hunter suddenly snaps back its wings and plunges down in a dramatic 'stoop'. It can reach speeds of up to 180mph (290 km/h). If the attack is successful, a blow from the peregrine's sharp talons breaks the neck or back of the flying prey.

Birds on the ground and in hedges may be flushed out as the falcon flies over vegetation, and then they are pounced on. The catch is immediately taken to a plucking post such as a tree branch or rocky crag, and the feathers are pulled out. The whole carcass is eaten and any indigestible material is regurgitated in the form of pellets, usually near the peregrine's nest. A peregrine eats about 100g of food per day. 

Read More: Peregrine Falcons and Humans

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