Falcon

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Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Europe.
© WWF-Canon / Chris Martin BAHR
What
Falcons are any of about 60 species of birds of prey that constitute the family Falconidae, which also includes eagles, hawks, kites, and vultures.

They are characterised by a bullet-shaped body; commonly long, pointed wings; a medium to long tail; long toes with sharp, hooked claws; and a short, hooked, usually notched bill.

Some small insectivorous falcons with long, narrow wings are called hobbies, and some which sometimes hover as they hunt for small rodents are named as kestrels.

Why
Falcons are strong, fast fliers with great aerial agility, which makes them successful hunters capable of taking prey 6 times their own body weight! Usually they kill cleanly, breaking the back of their victims.

About
Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus), the fastest birds on Earth, are said to have reached stoop speeds of up to 322kms per hour (200 mph). Several species of falcons, notably the peregrine, have long been trained as hunting birds.

Your chances of seeing one in the wild
It depends on which particular species of falcon you want to see.

The falcons only serious enemy is humankind and for many years falcons were considered vermin because they were thought to exact a heavy toll on chickens and other livestock.

In recent times pesticides have been responsible for decimating and endangering several species.

One species on the endangered list is the Seychelles kestrel (F. araea), and another species, the Mauritius kestrel (F. punctatus), may already be extinct.
Red-footed falcon (<i>Falco vespertinus</i>) female. Sasik Liman, Ukraine. / ©: WWF-Canon / Anton VORAUER
Red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus) female. Sasik Liman, Ukraine.
© WWF-Canon / Anton VORAUER

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