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Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons of North Dakota

JPG -- Picture of Species

Peregrine Falcon
Falco peregrinus

The peregrine falcon is the most widely distributed falcon in the world, but it is by far the most uncommon falcon found in North Dakota. The peregrine falcon was listed as an endangered species in 1970. A rapid decline occurred in the 1950's and 60's due primarily to eggshell thinning caused by the pesticide DDT. Presently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is considering removing the peregrine falcon from the endangered list because population numbers have increased.

The peregrine falcon is about the size of a crow and is identified by its dark blue to slate gray back, white throat, and black teardrop-shaped marking beneath each eye. Peregrine falcons prey primarily on birds such as pigeons, sandpipers, blackbirds, and waterfowl. Prey is taken by swooping down at incredible speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour and striking a severe blow with its talons. The diving speed of the peregrine falcon potentially makes it the fastest animal on the planet.

Peregrine falcons may be found in a wide variety of habitats that provide hunting opportunities, including tall buildings in large cities. This has inspired wildlife officials to place nesting structures on skyscrapers to encourage nesting. This is a bonus for both the falcons and the city because peregrines prey on pigeons which city officials consider a nuisance.

Peregrine falcons have not been reported as nesting in North Dakota since a pair nested southwest of Medora in 1954, but peregrine falcons may be seen in April and September during migration to and from their northern breeding grounds.

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