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Watchable Wildlife: Peregrine falcon

Did You Know?

A female peregrine falcon in an urban area
Peregrine falcon - Falco peregrinus
Photo: Barbara Loucks, DEC
  • Peregrines can attain speeds of 200 mph as they plunge from tremendous heights in pursuit of prey, primarily birds.
  • Many New York State cities boast peregrine falcon nests on bridges and tall buildings.
  • Peregrine falcons may live as long as 20 years.

Watchable wildlife binoculars iconWhat to watch for:

Size:

Peregrine falcons are about the size of a crow. Females are bigger than males.

Coloration:

Adult peregrines are slate-grey above and pale below, marked with horizontal barring on their underparts.

Immature peregrines are brown with vertical streaks on the underparts. All have a wide dark cheek patch or "moustache " mark below the eye.

Where to watch:

Peregrine falcons are found in open country from tundra, savannah and sea coasts, to high mountains, as well as in urban areas.

Nests are built on high ledges, generally 50 to 200 feet off the ground.

What to listen for:

Wailing call - a long drawn out scream
Cacking call - cack-cack-cack

When to watch:

Year round, but especially during the nesting season from March through July

The best places to see peregrine falcons:

Peregrines nesting boxes exist on most Hudson River bridges from Albany to New York City. They also nest on Adirondack cliffs.

Between March and July, check out the live falcon web cams at selected locations across the state

Click on the links below to get more information about each site:

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

More information about peregrine falcons:

DEC TV icon


Watch a clip about nesting Peregrine falcons in Buffalo, NY on DEC TV

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon fact sheet

Why band young peregrine falcons

Growth and development of peregrine falcon chicks

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