The Peregrine Falcon Essay

1127 words - 5 pages

6B The Peregrine Falcon By Jon Schellenberg
The Peregrine Falcon(Falco peregrinus)By Jon Schellenberg 6BNovember 2005IntroThe peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in the world. It is mainly known for its high-speed dives and its amazingly swift kills. Its distinct features and deadly claws and talons grabbed my attention immediately. The peregrine is a 'raptor', or a bird of prey. It is an endangered species, so it is our responsibility to protect these spectacular birds from poachers and predators. The following report is about this amazing creature.DescriptionAn adult peregrine is about the size and weight of a crow. It has a body length of about eighteen inches and weighs from one to three pounds. It has a dark head, beady, black eyes and a black moustache (also called a 'malar line'). Its beak is small and hooked, but it is extremely sharp. The front of its neck is white, and its entire underside is pale and cross-barred with dark brown. On its back are blue feathers striped with grey and its tail feathers are long and are tipped with white. The average peregrine's wingspan is about forty inches. The wings are swept back to cut through the air so that they can fly fast. Their bare yellow legs are attached to sharp, curved talons that are used for killing prey.HabitatPeregrines are found in every continent except Antarctica. They are found in Canada, but are not common anywhere. There are supposedly twenty-two sub-species, but only three are found in North America.Peregrines' nests are called 'scrapes'. These birds like high ground so some have adapted to city life to live on skyscraper ledges. Others live on cliff outcrops. They clear any debris away until their space is completely clean.FoodPeregrines eat other things that fly, like ducks, pheasants and pigeons. Sometimes they'll even eat blackbirds and bats! An adult will eat an average of seventy grams of food per day. That's equal to two whole blackbirds!EnemiesPeregrines are an endangered species. They became endangered when a pesticide called DDT entered the food chain in the '50s and '60s, killing hundreds. But in remote areas, main predators include the Great Horned owl and martens. Also, peregrines are threatened by poachers and egg collectors.AttackBecause peregrines are such swift fliers, they sometimes just sneak up behind prey and snatch it right out of the air! If they don't use this method, the peregrine will rise to hundreds of feet, and then dive. They are known to sometimes reach speeds over 320 km/h! Their half-closed talons will sink into the prey's flesh and if it does not die immediately, the peregrine will squeeze it and try to crush it to death. Once it is stunned or dead, it will either fall to the ground or the falcon will catch it in mid-air and bring it back to the nest. Surprisingly, the falcon's deadly beak is only used for tearing flesh and removing feathers back at the nest!YoungThe mother usually has three or four eggs at a time. The eggs are slightly...

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