The peregrine falcon feeds mainly on birds, as well as some mammals, such as bats, rabbits and rodents, and occasionally insects, reptiles and fish. Although a wide variety of bird prey is taken, up to the size of small geese, the peregrine falcon often specialises locally on particular groups or species, most notably pigeons and doves. Prey is usually caught in mid-air, although some may be taken from the ground or from water. The peregrine falcon is fast and agile in flight, and typically either chases prey at great speed, to exhaust it, or attacks it in a steep, spectacular dive, or ‘stoop’. The dead or wounded victim may then be caught as it falls, or followed to the ground, or the peregrine may stoop past it and roll over to strike it from below (2) (3) (5) (6). Breeding pairs often hunt cooperatively, although the female often targets larger prey (2) (6). Surplus prey may be cached (stored), particularly during the breeding season (3).
The peregrine falcon is usually found alone or in breeding pairs, with each pair maintaining a breeding territory, and often remaining together throughout the year. The breeding season varies with location, and may depend on weather conditions and prey availability (2) (6). Courtship involves aerial displays and noisy calling (5). The nest is a simple scrape on a cliff or ledge, on a building, in a tree hollow, or occasionally on the ground, or the pair may take over the disused nest of another species (2) (3) (6). Three to four eggs are usually laid (although clutch size may range from 1 to 6), and hatch after 29 to 33 days. The young peregrine falcons fledge at around 35 to 42 days, but are dependent on the adults for a further few months (2) (6). The peregrine falcon first breeds at around 2 years, and may live for up to 20 years in the wild (2) (3).