Scientific name: Falco peregrinus anatum
The Peregrine Falcon is a medium-sized raptor (36-49 cm), with long pointed wings (100 cm wingspan). It has a blackish “moustache” (stripe below the eye) and a blue-grey back. The breast is whitish with brown bars on the abdomen and thighs. The underside of the wings are white with black bars. Immature peregrines are darker with a brown back.
Found in an array of open habitat such as wetlands, sea coasts, and meadows. Foraging areas are diverse and include urban landscapes, but are typically associated with coastal habitats with an abundance of bird prey. In Nova Scotia they nest on the steep cliff ledges along the Bay of Fundy, but are known to nest in urban environments in other provinces.
Peregrine Falcons are often observed in the summer soaring along shorelines near the Bay of Fundy (look in August at Evangeline beach). They are rarely observed during the winter.
- They are the fastest animal on the planet and have been clocked at speeds over 300 km/hr.
- They are excellent hunters that feed almost entirely on birds, usually catching them in mid-air.
- Following a 40 year absence, the first breeding pair returned to Nova Scotia in 1995 (thanks to the efforts of a reintroduction program initiated in the 1980s.)
- In 2000 approximately 500 pairs nested in Canada thanks to releases of captive-bred peregrines.
- Populations across North America almost disappeared because of pesticide use (especially DDT).
- DDT was banned in the 1970s but high levels of this and other pesticides are still found in peregrine tissue.
- Human disturbance.
- Illegal harvest for falconry.
Courtesy of Species at Risk in Nova Scotia: Identification & Information Guide