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peregrine falcon:see falconfalcon,
common name for members of the Falconidae, a heterogeneous family of long-winged birds of prey similar to the hawks but genetically more closely related to the parrots and other birds.
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(Falco peregrinus), a bird of the order Falconiformes having a body length of 40–50 cm and a weight of 500–1,000 g. The females are larger than the males. The cap is slate-blue or reddish yellow; the back ranges in color from light slate-blue to almost black. The underparts are mottled—with small, sparse markings or large markings that almost merge into one another. The wings are long and pointed.
The peregrine falcon is widely distributed; it is absent in Antarctica and most of South America. In the USSR the bird’s range extends from the tundra to the southern borders; during migrations the bird enters the lowland steppes. The peregrine falcon nests in trees (occupying the former nests of other birds), on rocky ledges, on the ground, or, occasionally, in buildings (towers, belfries). A clutch contains three or four brick-brown eggs, which are incubated for 28 days. The young leave the nest in five or six weeks. The peregrine falcon preys mainly on birds, which it seizes in the air. It dives at velocities reaching 70–100 m per sec.
In some places the peregrine falcon is used as a hunting bird. The species is becoming rare. In the United States, where the bird has disappeared from the eastern states, attempts are being made to raise the peregrine falcon in captivity to restore the population.