Chihuahuan Desert Home

Landscape, Animals, and Plants Home





Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)


peregrin falcon Name Derivation:

Peregrine: Anglicized version of Latin peregrinus meaning "wandering", probably in reference to its traveling over wide areas.
Falcon: from Middle English faukon, derived from the Latin falc meaning "sickle", referring to the sickle-shaped claws or to the curved bill.
Falco: from Latin falc meaning "falcon".
peregrinus: see Peregrine above.

Other names:

Duck Hawk, Great-footed Hawk; Spanish – halcón peregrino, halcón pollero


Class: Aves; Order: Falconiformes; Family: Falconidae

Key Identification Characters:

Adults with blackish head and broad, black malar (moustache) stripe; slaty-gray upper parts, brownish barred underparts; wings pointed; large size for falcon; immature similar to adult but browner above and with streaked underparts. Males and females appear similar although females slightly larger. Length, 16"; wingspan, 41".


Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North America south thru South America.
El Paso Region: Uncommon migrant and winter resident, some nesting in Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains.


Primarily birds (over 250 species recorded as prey world-wide), mainly sparrow to ptarmigan size; some mammals including shrews, bats, mice, rabbits, squirrels; incidental items include slugs, fiddler crabs; rare instances of cannibalism and carrion feeding.


Number of eggs/clutch: range of 2 to 5 eggs, normally 3 eggs; egg: dark reddish-buff ground color, sprinkled and blotched with bright reddish-brown and chestnut; 2.05" x 1.55"; nesting: typically a cliff nester but also nests in tree cavities, stick nests of other cliff-nesting birds, on the ground in tundra areas; cliff nests with little or no nesting material unless using existing bird nest.

Photo Credit: Gerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy of Sciences

Contributor: Scott M. Cutler, Curator of Collections and Exhibits; Curator of Ornithology