N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission > Learning > Species > Birds > Peregrine Falcon
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Peregrine Falcon

Scientific Name: Falco peregrinus
Classification: Nongame Species
Abundance: Found statewide

Photo: Jennifer Rowe

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Additional Peregrine Falcon Information

A distinctive black cap with helmet-like markings on either side of its head and long pointed wings distinguish the peregrine falcon. It usually has a light-colored underside with a dark-bluish-gray back and wings. Though relatively easy to recognize, the peregrine is a rare bird to see in the wild. Because populations of this species are low in North Carolina, the peregrine falcon is currently a state-listed endangered species. For a medium sized bird, the peregrine falcon is a very fast and agile flyer. It has been known to reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour in a dive! With very acute eyesight and amazing flying abilities, the peregrine falcon is adapted to feed on other birds such as blue jays, pigeons and waterfowl. It typically catches its prey in flight. During mating season, the young male falcons attempt to attract a mate by displaying a series of acrobatics and somersaults in the air. Once the female has chosen her mate, they will remain a pair for life. Peregrine falcons prefer to nest on cliff ledges or rocky outcrops and will usually return to the same cliff or area every year. They will produce an average of three or four eggs every year.

The peregrine falcon is a nongame species with no open season. In North Carolina, it is listed as "threatened." A North Carolina threatened species is defined as any native or once-native species of wild animal that is likely to become an endangered species within the forseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range or one that is designated as a threatened species pursuant to the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Listed species cannot be collected or taken except under a special permit issued by the Wildlife Commission’s Executive Director.

There are no reported problems with this species.