Peregrine

Irish Name: Fabhcún gorm
Scientific name: Falco peregrinus
Bird Family: Raptors
green
Conservation status

Status

Widespread resident in Ireland.

Identification

A bird of prey (raptor) with a short hooked bill. A species of falcon with a heavy powerfully built body, medium length tail and wings which are broad close to the body and pointed at the tip. Sexual size difference, the female is larger than the male. Male and female plumages are the same, unlike Merlins, the species most likely to be confused with Peregrine. Adults are bluey grey above, with a barred tail; the underparts are white and finely barred, the check, throat and upper breast are plain white and contrast with a black hood and thick moustachal stripe. Juvenile birds are similar to adults but have brownish upperparts and streaked, not barred, feathers on the body.

Voice

Mainly silent away from its breeding site. Main call is a hard persistent cackling.

Diet

Mainly birds, usually taken in the air and sometimes on the ground or on water. Employs spectacular hunting technique where the bird 'stoops' from high above its intended prey, with its wings held close into the body, reaching great speeds. Estimates of speeds vary, but it seems likely that birds reach speeds in excess of 300km/hour, making it the fastest animal on the planet. Kills its prey with force of its impact using its legs at the last moment to inflict the killer blow. Prey includes pigeons, including feral birds, thrushes, waders and wildfowl, gulls and seabirds.

Breeding

Breeds on coastal and inland cliffs. Most birds on the coast breed on the south, west and north coasts, coastal breeding on the east coast is limited by the availability of suitable nesting cliffs. Most inland birds breed on mountain cliffs but will also breed at lower levels. The species is still recovering from a dramatic and well documented decline in the 1950s and 60s due to the effects of pesticide poisoning. The responsible pesticides have been banned and the species has been recovering slowly.

Wintering

Breeds on coastal and inland cliffs. Most birds on the coast breed on the south, west and north coasts, coastal breeding on the east coast is limited by the availability of suitable nesting cliffs. Most inland birds breed on mountain cliffs but will also breed at lower levels. The species is still recovering from a dramatic and well documented decline in the 1950s and 60s due to the effects of pesticide poisoning. The responsible pesticides have been banned and the species has been recovering slowly.

Monitored by

Countryside Bird Survey

Similar Species

Kestrel

Irish Name:
Pocaire gaoithe
Scientific name:
Falco tinnunculus
Bird Family:
Raptors

Merlin

Irish Name:
Meirliún
Scientific name:
Falco columbarius
Bird Family:
Raptors

Sparrowhawk

Irish Name:
Spioróg
Scientific name:
Accipiter nisus
Bird Family:
Raptors