A Most Amazing Bird

A Most Amazing Bird Awesome. Amazing. Spectacular. These are all words used to describe the peregrine falcon. With its dazzling speed and its unbelievably quick movements, this unique bird is a treat to watch. Power and Speed The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird on Earth, and can reach speeds of more than 180 miles per hour. This amazing bird reaches its top speed while hunting birds such as pigeons, pheasants, and ducks. The falcon flies high above its prey, and when it spots a bird, it begins flying full speed almost straight down. During its descent, it reaches a speed of nearly 60 miles per hour. It then goes into a swoop, or dive. The peregrine falcon folds its wings and tail into its body, eliminating any resistance from the air. Then the bird’s dive can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. The falcon is not merely falling during this high-speed chase. It actually steers itself toward its prey, using tiny wing and tail movements. The peregrine falcon maintains this amazing speed right up to the time it reaches its prey. Most often, the prey is killed or stunned by the contact. And then, at this great speed, the falcon suddenly breaks its dive, stretches out its wings and tail, and flies around to catch its falling prey. The falcon then carries it to its feeding post. The peregrine falcon is not only the fastest bird on Earth, it is the planet’s fastest creature. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only. Birds and Their Possible Mammals and Their Possible Top Air Speeds*Top Land Speeds* Peregrine Falcon180 to 200 mphCheetah65 to 70 mph Homing Pigeon90 to 95 mphPronghorn 55 to 60 mph Antelope Duck, Goose60 to 79 mphHorse45 to 50 mph Hummingbird55 to 60 mphJackrabbit40 to 45 Crow40 to 45 mphHuman20 to 25 mph *Note: Because many factors, such as wind and time traveled, affect speed, these speeds are estimates. Description You might expect the fastest bird on Earth to be very large, but it isn’t. The peregrine falcon is about the size of a large crow, with a length between 13 and 20 inches, and a wingspan between 31 and 47 inches. The largest falcon, the gyrfalcon, reaches a length of two feet, and the bald eagle can be more than 3 feet long. The peregrine falcon is bluish-grey above, and white with blackish- brown bars below. It has a white chin and what looks like a black cap on its head. It usually nests high on a shelf of a steep cliff. The Peregrine Falcon’s Future Not too long ago, the peregrine falcon was an endangered species. Little support for the falcon existed. However, due to the efforts of many countries to protect this amazing bird, its future does not look so bleak. It was taken off the Endangered Species List in 1999. Today, the number of peregrine falcons speeding through the skies is growing. Maybe one day you will be lucky enough to watch this fascinating bird in action. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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