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North Dakota's Endangered and Threatened Species

Peregrine Falcon
Falco peregrinus anatum

JPG -- Picture and Range Map of Species

Status: Endangered

Peregrine falcons are about the size of an American crow with dark blue to slate gray back, white throat, black facial markings, and a spotted or barred belly. Peregrine falcons can be distinguished from prairie falcons or merlins by their larger size and more distinct facial markings.

Historically, the peregrine was found on all continents except Antarctica. Populations have been reduced worldwide because pesticide use and loss of habitat. Breeding populations have been eliminated in large portions of the U.S. The last recorded pair nesting in North Dakota was found southwest of Medora in 1954.

Peregrine falcons will use almost any habitat type that provides a hunting opportunity for pigeons, ducks, upland game, and other birds. For nesting purposes, peregrines prefer habitat with cliffs. They have been known to nest in cities with tall buildings. In 1990, a pair inhabited the downtown Fargo area for over a month.

Sexual maturity is reached at an age of three years. Adults lay a clutch of three to four eggs in April and young hatch about 33 days later. Young can fly four to six weeks after hatching.

The peregrine falcon may be the fastest animal in the world, reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour in a dive. During a dive, a peregrine will strike its prey with its talons to knock it out of the air.

Because of recent population increases, the USFWS is considering the removal of this bird from the endangered and threatened list.

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