Birds – The Peregrine Falcon

F. Peregrinus) of Europe and portions of Asia may be taken as typical of another group (subgenus Rhynchodon) of Falcons, in which the tarsus is often shorter, and is never much longer, than the middle toe, while the first quill is longer than the third. This species, the male of which is about fifteen inches and the female eighteen inches in length, is dark bluish gray above, with darker bands, and decidedly darker head, while the lower parts are creamy buff or buffy white, barred and spotted with black. The quills are brownish black, edged with gray, and the tail-feathers grayish, broadly barred with black and tipped with white. The cere and feet are yellow and the iris dark brown. “This famed bird,” says Hudson, “is of a handsome appearance, not Swallow-like as is the Kite, nor so massive as the Eagle, but nature in fashioning it has observed the golden mean, and the result is a being so well balanced in all its parts and so admirably adapted for speed, strength, and endurance that to many minds it has seemed the most perfect among winged creatures.” Its trim, compact figure, as it stands erect and motionless on some projecting crag, make it appear as though “carved out of stone or marble of a beautiful soft tint.” It has long, sharp-pointed wings and an exceedingly rapid flight, and as it possesses undaunted courage, it frequently pursues birds larger than itself, rarely failing to strike them down. It subsists almost entirely upon birds, such as Ducks, Waders, Pigeons, Grouse, Partridges, and, of course, such smaller species as come in its way. It places its nest usually on a rocky ledge, but occasionally in trees, then often occupying abandoned nests of other birds, and it has been reported as rarely nesting on the ground in marshes. The nest may be a mere hollow scratched in the scant soil of a cliff, or it may be of considerable size. The eggs are from two to four in number, yellowish white, spotted and mottled with reddish brown and orange-brown. The Peregrine is still a not uncommon species in the British Islands, where it is confined to the rugged, rocky coasts.