The Peregrine Falcon

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          First of all, what is the Peregrine Falcon? It is the world's fastest bird that can dive at speeds of 350 mph, about half the speed of sound.

          First of all, what is the Peregrine Falcon? It is the world's fastest bird that can dive at speeds of 350 mph, about half the speed of sound. Its name means "wanderer". The Peregrine is from 14-43 inches long and has a 39-43 inch wingspan. It can live up to 20 years.

     All peregrines start as an egg. In the late spring or early summer, the male and female peregrines builds a nest called a"scrape". Then, the female lays up to 6 eggs that are about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long and that can freeze in under 10 minutes if not kept at a constant 70 degrees Fahrenheit. She then leaves the nest to hunt for food. While incubating the eggs, the female goes into a trance- like state which can only be broken by a special call from the male who brings her food. The eggs hatch after 29-32 days.

     Whether in or out of mating season,a peregrine must eat And for it to eat it must hunt. Their prey: small animals. If their prey flies, they swoop down and hit it broadside and either picks it up off the ground or catches it in midair. If the prey runs, the peregrine targets it and grabs it with its sharp talons. Whatever its dinner is, it stands no chance and is killed instantly. Dinner is caught!

    In 1950, farmers started using DDT widely. DDT is a a insecticide that also makes the cells in a living things destroy themselves, causing muscle damage. Whatever ingested the poison died if it was very small and was permanently damaged if it was larger. This was bad news for the falcons. If they ate bugs that had been sprayed with DDT, their eggs would have paper thin shells. From 1950-1970 many birds of prey, including the peregrine, became nearly extinct. To see one was a once- in-a- lifetime  experience. But, the government banned the usage of DDT and the numbers of all birds began to rise. In 1999, the peregrine was taken off the endangered list.

     Today, the screeching cry of this majestic bird can be heard almost anywhere on the continents of North and South America, and everywhere in between!