Cascades Raptor Center

Resident Raptor - Peregrine Falcon

Leia, Pip & Freyja

Leia Leia  Was found near the University of Oregon in November 2003, unable to fly. Her size indicates a female; her plumage showed she was a 'passage' of a first-year bird. Although radiographs showed no fractures and there were no surface wounds or apparent bruising, the x-rays did show a major tear in the flight muscles of the upper right breast. Such soft tissue damage can take a very long time to heal and may never heal sufficiently for the high speed stoops and long distance migrations for which peregrines are well known. After 8 months, it is obvious that the damage is too extensive for her to regain the flight capability she would need for release, so she joined our education program.  (Leia is glove-trained.)  Adopt Leia

Pip Pip  Male falcons are referred to as 'tiercels' because they are typically about 1/3 the size of the females. This small male was found as a hatch year bird in July 2013. He was found with a fracture of his left humerus, although we do not know how he was injured. The fracture was fresh and should have gone together fairly easily, but he did not tolerate anesthesia well, necessitating two mouth-to-beak resuscitations during surgery to pin the wing. The IM pin was not sufficient to prevent rotation of the bone ends in this transverse fracture; but we did not want to risk him dying by completing the process with external fixators, as we would normally do. The wing did not heal in perfect alignment, keeping him from flying well enough for release.
(Pip is glove-trained.)  Adopt Pip

Freya This delightful new addition to our diplomatic corps, Freyja, is a captive-bred, falconry-trained peregrine falcon, hatched in 2001. Freyja was given to us by her breeder and owner, the falconer who flew her for eight years but who is now retiring from the field. This bird spent her first four weeks with her avian parents, but then was raised in a playpen in the house and is very socialized and comfortable around people - certainly too comfortable for release. She was out wowing her new fans the second day we got her, when she traveled for an after-school program at River Road Parks and Recreation Center.
(Freya is glove-trained.)  Adopt Freya

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum)

Courtesy of Barbara Gleason

A large, dark, powerful falcon with long, pointed wings and a long, narrow, tapered tail. Plumage is similar between the sexes, but females are larger. The Peregrine Falcon has a black hood that extends down along the side of the head in a distinctive wide mustache mark. Upper parts of the bird are a dark slate-gray and lightly barred; underparts are a whitish color at the throat, shading to a buffy color with elongated spots on the chest, and more dark barring across the abdomen; legs and feet of the adult are bright yellow. Like all other members of the falcon family, the Peregrine has a distinct notch in the upper mandible for cervical dislocation of its prey. This falcon flies with smooth, shallow, powerful wing beats, often soaring high with wings out flat and tail fanned when searching for prey, then diving and maneuvering at high speed to strike birds in midair. Peregrines are capable of gliding and flapping speeds up to 60 mph, and of reaching speeds up to 200 mph in spectacular dives called stoops.



  Male Female
Length 14 - 16" 16 - 20"
Wing Span 37 - 39" 40 - 46"
Weight 1 - 1.5 lb. 1.6 - 2.1 lb.

Tempest Status - State and federally protected. Once on the edge of extinction in North America from pesticide poisoning, Peregrines have made a remarkable recovery through captive breeding programs and were officially taken off the endangered species list in 1999.

Habitat - Found in both forested and open country, up to about 10,000 feet. Usually live in an area with bluffs or cliffs overlooking rivers or lakes inland, or overlooking bays or ocean near an abundance of seabirds. Peregrines have learned the advantages of urban life in some regions, nesting on buildings and bridges, wherever pigeons are plentiful.

Diet - Almost all of their diet is small to medium-sized birds, usually captured in the air, but occasionally on the ground. The most common hunting technique is to hunt from a perch, taking off after passing birds; will also soar and circle, maneuver into position, and dive on prey to catch them in flight. Young Peregrines practice their midair hunting skills by going after flying insects.

Call - Usually silent when alone, but vocal around other Peregrines. Will give a harsh rasping alarm call rehk...rehk...rehk... if an intruder comes near the nest.

Nesting - This falcon usually scrapes out a shallow hollow for the eggs in an inaccessible spot -- on cliffs, high ledges, bluffs, or on ledges of buildings in cities. Will also reuse old nests of other species in trees. Peregrines may return to the same nest site over many generations.

Most Common Problems - Peregrines are not seen often at rehabilitation facilities, but when they do come in, it is often with wing injuries from hitting power lines.

  ANCA Member

Cascades Raptor Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (Federal ID No. 93-1038827) dedicated to wildlife rescue and public education to enhance appreciation, respect, and stewardship of the natural world.


CRC logo art by Jeanne Hammond-Elliott.  Drawings by Barbara Gleason & Karl Edwards.  Photographic sources noted as provided.