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Peregrine Falcon - Watchable Wildlife

Banding a juvenile peregrine falcon
Juvenile Peregrine Falcon by Barbara Saunders

Quick Facts

  • Peregrines can attain speeds of 200 mph as they plunge from tremendous heights in pursuit of prey, which is 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.
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What to Watch for


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


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

Peregrine falcon newly hatched chicks
Photo by Barbara Saunders

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-tundra, savannah, sea coasts, and 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.

More Information about Peregrine Falcons

Watch a clip about Peregrine Falcons and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.

Photo by Barbara Loucks

The Best Places to See Peregrine Falcons

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