The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird in the world. It can reach over 300 km/h when it pounces on its prey. In order to catch and capture its victims, the Peregrine Falcon perches on cliffs or buildings to carry out its characteristic aerial ambush. Its short wings and tail, much shorter than Lanner or Saker Falcon’s, slightly bend forward and remain arched in order to soar whilst locating the prey. Then it makes fast and rigid but shallow wingbeats, rising to a considerable height over its goal. The Peregrine Falcon comes and goes yelling and drawing a horizontal 8 and it ends up swooping down over its prey and beating it on flight. The strength of the impact is such it breaks the neck of the victim.
The Peregrine Falcon, naturally or with the help of humans, has managed to breed in the cities. In 2013 seven couples were registered in Madrid. Nowadays they nest in several places of cultural interest in Europe, such as the Tate Modern and the Millennium Dome in London, the Museum of the Americas in Madrid, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, the Palace of Culture in Warsaw or Alexanderplatz in Berlin.
Here you can see the couple that nests at the Museum of the Americas in Madrid.
The Peregrine Falcon has also settled in American cities. We can find it in New York in the United States or in Toronto in Canada. In both cities it manages to breed with the help of the authorities.
There are around 12 000 couples nowadays in Europe. However, the Peregrine Falcon is included in the Spanish National Catalogue of Endangered Species and in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
30 years ago, the Peregrine Falcon was in decline due to the presence of toxic pesticides (DDT and PCB) in its preys, but it has been recovering since their banning. Besides being a poison, DDT reduces the thickness of the eggshells, so the lying gets ruined. Most birds of prey suffer this problem.
Organochlorine pesticides reduce calcium carbonate during the process of egg formation, which translates in a much thinner shell. This can lead to two situations: the first one being the breaking of the shell and the second, the death of dehydration of the embryo due to the lack of protection derived from an insufficient cover.
Next time you visit the historic quarter of a big European city, don’t forget to pay attention to the sky: you might be lucky and see the fastest animal on Earth very close.