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Types of Falcon Species (with 15 Pictures)

The continent of North America is home to at least eight different types of falcons. I think they kind of look like hawks from further away.

  1. American Kestrel

Weight: 2.8-5.8 Ounces

Length: 8.7-12.2 Inches

Wingspan: 20.1-24.0 Inches

The Kestrel is among the most commonly found birds of prey in North America. These species are small as compared to other falcons inhabited in this part of the world. These are the migratory birds, which means they pass through the major parts of America including Central America and Canada.

They have visible and vibrant spots on their bodies. This gives them a distinctive appearance when compared with other falcons listed here. Apart from being the smallest falcon species, Kestrel is also referred to as the smallest bird of prey.

Hence, these falcons prefer to hunt small insects, vertebrates, and rodents. The common diet of this species includes lizards, grasshoppers, small birds, and mice. This particular species is capable of living in a wide range of habitats including urban settings.


  1. Merlin

Weight: 5.6-8.5 Ounces

Length: 9.4-11.8 Inches

Wingspan: 20.9-26.8 Inches

These particular species live throughout the northern hemisphere. Merlin is also found in other parts of the world including Asia, North America, and Europe. There are nearly 9 types of subspecies of Merlin.

Just like other species of falcon, Merlin is also known for its speed. Especially, this type of falcon can attain high speeds while hunting. They also prefer to fly low when in hunting mode. Their common prey is small birds, lizards, and insects. This is so, as the agility and high speed of Merlin falcons allow them to hunt birds and other small prey while flying.


  1. Peregrine Falcon

Weight: 18.7-56.4 Ounces

Length: 14.2-19.3 Inches

Wingspan: 39.4-43.3 Inches

These are the most popular type of falcons, as they are mainly known as the fastest birds on the earth. Apart from being the fastest bird in the world, Peregrines are also the fastest of all the animals. While hunting, this species can spot its prey from up in the air. It attacks its prey with great agility and pinpoints precision.

When diving to catch its prey, a Peregrine can achieve a top speed of 180 Mph or above. Diving at such a high speed creates a massive impact, which is strong enough to kill prey in the air. Since they are migratory birds, Peregrine falcons are usually found throughout the world (except Antarctica).

Just like Kestrels, these species have also adapted to the urban habitat. While living in the wild, Peregrines perch on the cliffs. Nevertheless, in an urban setup, these falcons love to make their nests on high buildings. This provides them with a secure place to raise their offspring.

I remember the day vividly, as it was one of those rare moments when nature offers up a spectacle so magnificent that it etches itself permanently into your memory. I was strolling through the park, a sprawling expanse of green that stretched across 30 acres in the heart of the city, a welcome oasis from the urban sprawl.

It was a crisp autumn morning, the kind where the air is fresh and invigorating, and the leaves are just beginning to turn shades of amber and gold. I had my trusty binoculars with me, a pair of Nikon Monarchs with an 8x magnification and a 42mm objective lens, perfect for birdwatching. They were a bit heavy, hanging around my neck, but they were worth their weight in gold for moments like this.

As I meandered along the winding path, I noticed a sudden movement above. Instinctively, I lifted my binoculars to my eyes and focused on the figure. There, perched majestically on a high branch of an old oak tree, was a falcon. Its sleek body was a study in aerodynamics, and its sharp, hooked beak was a clear indication of its predatory status.

The falcon’s plumage was a beautiful mix of slate gray and dusky browns, with subtle barring on its chest. Its sharp eyes, like two dark orbs, scanned the surroundings with an intensity that was almost palpable. I estimated its size to be around 15 inches from head to tail, with a wingspan that could easily be twice that length.

I watched, captivated, as the falcon preened its feathers with meticulous strokes. It seemed completely unfazed by the presence of a human observer, or perhaps it was simply too engrossed in its own routine. Either way, I felt like a privileged guest being allowed a glimpse into its world.

Without warning, the falcon unfolded its wings and launched from the branch with a burst of speed that took my breath away. Its flight was a masterclass in precision and grace, each wingbeat a testament to years of evolutionary perfection. I tracked it as best I could with my binoculars, following its path as it soared, dipped, and climbed again, until it was nothing more than a speck against the vast canvas of the sky.


  1. Gyrfalcon

Weight: 28.5-74 Ounces

Length: 19-25.5 Inches

Wingspan: 43-63 Inches

These are known to be the largest of the falcon species found in North America. In some cases, some species of these falcons can even grow bigger than some of the hawks. These falcons like cold habitats i.e. Northern parts of America. Here, they can breed in open tundra.

However, they do tend to avoid those areas with harsh winters. Hence, they migrate to less cold regions during winter. During chilling winters, they like to live nearby grasslands, river valleys, and farmlands. When hunting, they consider perching on the open areas with a lot of prey.


  1. Prairie Falcon

Weight: 14.8-38.8 Ounces

Length: 14.6-18.5 Inches

Wingspan: 35.4-44.5 Inches

This species like to perch on open spaces including fields and grasslands. When hunting, they continue to fly on the plains. Due to their strong eyesight, Prairie falcons can locate small mammals and birds. These falcons are usually found in the western parts of the US.

Prairie falcons are known for their fast flight and remarkable hunting skills. They are sometimes hard to find, as their brown colors allow them to camouflage within their surroundings. This species is larger than Merlin falcons and somewhat smaller than Peregrine falcons.


  1. Crested Caracara

Weight: 37.0-45.9 Ounces

Length: 19.3-22.8 Inches

Wingspan: 48.0-49.2 Inches

This species has a unique appearance, which distinguishes them from other falcon species found in North America. Although they are common in Central America, these species are also found in southern states i.e. Texas and Arizona.

The head of a Caracara looks identical to a Vulture. The talons are large and sharp. In addition, they are also bigger than Peregrines falcons. Usually, this species is considered omnivores, yet they love to feed on carrion. Their habitat consists of high tree branches. However, they have also been seen perching on the ground.


  1. Aplomado Falcon

Weight: 7.3-17.6 Ounces

Length: 15.0-16.9 Inches

Wingspan: 35.0 Inches

The Aplomado Falcon is normally found only in two of the US states i.e. New Mexico and Texas. Nevertheless, this species is scarcely found in both these states. Throughout the year, a sparse population normally stays close to the Mexican border.

In some cases, these falcons look identical to a large-sized American Kestrel. This is so, as they have streaks on their head and sides. Besides, they also have colorful plumage. Due to extreme rarity, Aplomado falcons are declared as an endangered species in the United States.


  1. Collared Forest Falcon

Weight: 20-30 Ounces

Length: 18-23 Inches

Wingspan: 28-34 Inches

The Collared Forest falcon is occasionally seen in the Southern parts of the US and Mexico. However, they are more common in Central America. These species prefer to live in swampy forests and rainforests. They hunt small prey including small rodents and insects.

Forest falcons aren’t that common; hence, they are usually found in northern areas of South America. This species is less popular than other falcons discussed on the list. Hence, there isn’t much information about Collared Forest falcons.

Names of some common types of Falcon species

  • Malagasy kestrel
  • Mauritius kestrel
  • Seychelles kestrel
  • Australian kestrel or Nankeen kestrel
  • Spotted kestrel
  • Rock kestrel
  • Common kestrel
  • Greater kestrel
  • Banded kestrel
  • Fox kestrel
  • Gray kestrel
  • Lesser kestrel
  • Dickinson’s kestrel
  • American kestrel
  • Amur falcon
  • Sooty Falcon
  • African red-necked Falcon
  • Red-footed Falcon
  • Aplomado falcon
  • Eurasian hobby
  • Australian hobby
  • Oriental hobby
  • Gray falcon
  • Brown Falcon
  • New Zealand falcon
  • Laggar Falcon
  • Lanner falcon
  • Black Falcon
  • Gray falcon
  • Saker falcon
  • Prairie falcon
  • Gyrfalcon
  • Peale’s Falcon
  • Barbary falcon
  • Pallid Falcon
  • Eleonora’s Falcon
  • Eurasian merlin
  • Orange-breasted Falcon
  • Bat falcon
  • African hobby
  • Taita falcon
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Plumbeous forest-falcon
  • Collared forest-falcon
  • Lined forest-falcon
  • Cryptic forest-falcon
  • Buckley’s forest-falcon
  • Guadalupe caracara
  • Crested caracara
  • Red-throated caracara
  • Striated caracara
  • Yellow-headed caracara
  • Mountain caracara
  • White-throated caracara
  • Black caracara
  • Black-thighed falconet
  • Philippine falconet
  • White-fronted falconet
  • Pied falconet
  • Collared falconet


Falcons are diurnal birds. They can live in almost every type of habitat including deserts, grassland, and coasts. The Falconidae family comprises almost sixty species. They can easily be found in every continent of the world except Antarctica. Wolves often eat falcons on the ground, while eagles and large ow




Falcons are diurnal birds of prey belonging to the family Falconidae, differentiated by their thin, tapered wings. Falcons are known for their fantastic flying capabilities. They have plumes or ‘flags’ on the legs. They also have a small projection in their beaks that is developed into a ‘tooth.’

When it comes to the appearance of a baby falcon, they look extremely adorable. Baby falcons are primarily covered in gray or white fluffy down feathers. The upper beak of hatchlings is light-blue in color, whereas the legs are gray.

Unlike eagles, hawks, and other raptor birds of the family Accipitridae, falcons utilize the ‘Tomial tooth’ (that is located on the side of the upper beak) to kill their prey.

Size: Their size differs depending on the species. The smallest Falcon is the Seychelles kestrel of length 9.8 in (25 cm) while the largest Gyrfalcon has 25.5 (65 cm).

Weight: The weight of falcons varies between 1.5 lbs. (0.7 kg) and 2.6 lbs. (1.2 kg)

Wingspan: Large falcon species such as Gyrfalcon can have a wingspan of 110-160 cm, whereas the Seychelles kestrel, which is the smallest species of the falcons, has a wingspan of 40-45 cm

Color: These birds typically are brown, yellow, white, gray, or black in color.

Eyes: Falcon’s eyes have a translucent eyelid and a much more large lens than humans.

Beak: They primarily have a notched beak with a tooth-like projection in contrast to the curved beak of hawks.



The Falcon is the fastest flying species among all the animals on the whole planet. When not hunting, this bird usually flies between 40 and 60 mph. However, when diving to grab its prey, the peregrine Falcon can reach speeds of up to 220 mph. What let it achieve such high rates when other birds cannot?

The Falcon has many features that set it apart from various other birds, making it one of a kind. It is the deadliest predator out there. These features are its keel, pointed wings, stiff feathers, and incredibly efficient respiratory and circulatory systems.



Falcons can easily be found almost everywhere on the earth, ranging from deserts, grasslands, forests, arctic tundra, and around water bodies, mainly along the coast.

Typically, one can observe Peregrine Falcons perching or nesting on

  • Skyscrapers,
  • Power pylons,
  • Water towers,
  • Cliffs, and
  • Other tall structures

If a mudflat full of shorebirds and ducks suddenly erupts from the ground, observe the skies. A Peregrine (or Merlin) is most probably in the area. Peregrines can be observed all over North America, but they are much more common along coasts.

Behavioral Adaptations

Over the period of time, Peregrine falcons have developed numerous behavioral adaptations. This helps them to enhance the chances of their survival in the wild. One of the adaptive behaviors relates to perching. Usually, Peregrine falcons prefer to perch on high trees and cliff ledges.

This helps to save the chicks from predators. Apart from this, perching on a tall cliff or tree also helps falcons while hunting. This is so, as height plays a key role when a Peregrine falcon is trying to attack prey. The fast speed and agility enhance the chances of successful hunting.

Being top predators, Peregrine falcons possess a strong territorial behavior. They ferociously guard their nesting site or territory when they are raising their young ones. Besides, these falcons are also known for spending a solitary life.

When migrating from one place to another, the adult Peregrine falcon will continue to live alone for 8 to ten months. In most cases, this species of falcon only spend 16 to 18 weeks with a mate. This is the time when the couple is mating and raising a family.

Besides, there are certain peregrines, which don’t migrate. These species stay on their territory throughout the year. They may guard their territory as a mated pair or alone. No other falcon is allowed to enter the territory of a Peregrine falcon. Even they don’t permit their own offspring to come back to the nesting area after they have started their independent life.



Adaptation to Urban Environment

Another behavioral adaptation of Peregrine falcons is their ability to live and flourish in the urban environment. The availability of tall buildings gives them a reason to make use of such an excellent opportunity.

Apart from a lot of space to perch on, there is no scarcity of food. Cities have plenty of pigeons, which is a favorite food item for the Peregrine falcons. Hence, adapting to an urban habitat tends to be quite beneficial for this species.

The evolutionary history of hawks and falcons is somewhat similar. Both these birds of prey have developed strong talons, sharp beaks, and powerful eyesight. All these features allow these birds to catch and immobilize their prey.


All about diet and hunting styles

Depending on the habitat and type of species, falcons feed on a variety of prey. Discussed below is the preferred diet of falcons along with their unique hunting styles.

Hunt other small birds

Being dominant predators, falcons generally hunt blackbirds, pigeons, shorebirds, ducks, gulls, grebes, starlings, jays, waterfowl, and songbirds.

Consume small mammals

Falcons occasionally eat small mammals such as rats, mice, gophers, and ground squirrels.

Steal preys on other birds of prey

They also steal preys, including lizards, frogs, insects, small snakes, and fish from other predatory birds.


Mating Rituals of Peregrine Falcons

Bowing act: This is a gesture where the male bow in front of a female and lifts his tail. While doing so, the male will keep its head low. This act is also referred to as the “Ledge Display”, which is normally performed when the male is standing at the nesting site. The male calls a female falcon by uttering specific sounds.


Scraping: During this process, a Peregrine falcon makes a dip inside the eyrie with help of its feet. It’s a way to create a new nesting site or clean the previous one by using the feet.


Food offering: During this courtship display, the male will offer food to the female falcon. If interested, the female will accept the food. The food exchange can take place either in the mid-air or on the nesting site.



The terminology “raptor” is of Latin origin, which refers “to carry away.” As mentioned earlier, those typically mean what birds of prey do; they carry away their target. People watch them with awe when a falcon swoops down to catch a small bird.

This community of high-flying fighters consists of falcons, hawks, eagles, owls, and osprey. Not only are these birds astonishing to view, but they do also play quite an essential role in performing duties for our environment. Ecology is taking benefits from raptors in more than one way.

Maintaining nature’s balance

Falcons are pretty efficient predators. They grab, kill, and eat a wide range of other small birds for their survival. This predation is not mean or wild. It has been going on after the world has come into being and is, in reality, a vital function that serves to preserve nature’s balance.


Falcon keeps the ecosystem in check and balance

Birds of prey like Falcon are placed at the top of numerous food chains. Field rats, Mice, rabbits, other rodents, and squirrels, different kinds of insects, and reptiles, and other various small birds might be available in abundance due to desirable weather and a surplus of food.

Similarly, it also happens with fish, amphibians, and with snake populations too. Birds of prey aid in keeping in check and balancing the volume of these populations.


Falcons are the Barometers of the ecosystem

Raptors, like Falcon, have been termed as “ecological barometers,” which indicates they support us gauging how healthy our habitat looks. Birds of prey are responsive to several environmental fluctuations in an ecosystem.

They have incredibly sharp senses that even they can sense chemical and pollutant levels in the environment. Hence it can provide people an early warning of any approaching airborne threats.


Falcons Assistant farmer

While most of the smaller-sized raptors survive through feeding on insects, whereas larger ones survive feeding on prey like rodents. Many farmers genuinely thank them—for instance, the sizeable red-tailed hawk satisfies its hunger through feeding on rodents.

Grasshoppers, cutworms, rabbits, and field mice can destroy whole fields of crops if left to breed freely, and no birds of prey can feed on them. Handling pests in such a way is called biological control.

If a farmer can control pests through natural predation, the farmer does not require pesticides or insecticides. Apart from being beneficial for the farmers, this process of controlling pests can also help to protect our environment.


What makes these birds so unique?

With a speed of 242 mph, falcons make the fastest bird species in the world. Their agile behavior can be rarely seen in any other birds. That is why falcons are also sometimes referred to as the relatives of leopards. Another fact that makes them unique is their adaptability. They are known as one of the most adaptable creatures that can even thrive in urban areas.

Falcons are also the only bird species having nostrils that are able to guide shock waves of air. Their agility and high speed don’t damage their lungs due to the high air pressure when they dive.

This natural design is unique and fascinating which is similar to a jet engine. Moreover, the eyesight of these birds is eight times better than humans. That is why they can easily see their prey even from a distance of 3 km. They are known to have a third eyelid as well which clears the debris and spreads the tears without blurring the vision during a dive. That is why, they are known as the most unique species that exists on earth.

How Peregrine Falcon can Fly so Fast

No doubt, Peregrine falcons are known as the fastest birds around the globe. When this bird is not hunting, it can achieve a speed of nearly 50 to 60 mph. Nevertheless, when a Peregrine dives for its prey, its average speed may reach up to 200 mph.

This is why most people are curious about a high speed of a Peregrine falcon. So, what makes it possible for the Peregrine to fly so fast? In fact, there are numerous features in the body structure of a Peregrine falcon, which allows them to fly at high speeds.

These features include:

  • Specifically designed keel
  • Pointed wings
  • Stiff feathers
  • Efficient circulatory and respiratory systems

Specifically designed keel

This is the most essential body part of a falcon’s body, which is a kind of modified breastbone. It is specialized for flying at fast speeds. The muscles used by a bird while flapping its wings are also attached to the keel. Due to the presence of a large keel, some additional muscles can attach to it. More muscles mean more flapping power, which in turn gives additional speed to the falcon.


Pointed wings

The pointed wings of a Peregrine falcon also play a critical role when it comes to achieving extraordinary speed. Since the wings have a sleek and sweptback design, it helps to give a streamlined figure to the bird. With the curved wings, it is easy for the falcon to make an airfoil effect. This results in maximized speed and maneuverability.


Stiff feathers

Apart from other aspects, the feathers of a Peregrine falcon also play their key role when flying at high speeds. This particular species of falcons have stiff and slim feathers. This helps to minimize the drag and lowers the air friction. In addition, stiff feathers also give a sleek and well-toned appearance to these falcons.


Efficient circulatory and respiratory systems

Although the overall body design of a Peregrine falcon is aerodynamic, it won’t serve the purpose in absence of a highly efficient circulatory and respiratory system. Due to this feature, the Peregrine falcon can breathe easily at a speed of 200 mph.

This species can do this as its lungs have a one-way airflow. In addition, these birds have air sacs within their lungs. It helps to keep the lungs inflated even when the bird is exhaling. In addition, the heart of a Peregrine is strong too. It can beat 600 to 900 times/minute.

As a result, the oxygen continues to travel throughout the body of a Peregrine falcon even at high speeds. Furthermore, this reduces the chances of early fatigue. So, this bird of prey can flap its wings at a faster pace (4 times/seconds), which gives a boost to the overall flying speed of a Peregrine falcon.

Differences between Falcon and Hawk

For sure, it is a difficult task to differentiate between different kinds of birds of prey. This usually occurs when it comes to telling the difference between a Hawk and a Falcon.

However, there are some fundamental things to look out for that will assist in telling differentiating between them.

Hunting habits

Next, falcons have a notch on their beak called a tooth, while hawks contain a primary curve of the brim. Through this, falcons use their beak usually to kill their prey by using the ‘tooth’ to grab the neck of their prey.

In contrast, hawks use the nails of the feet to their target. Typically, falcons hunt various birds and bats, while Hawks usually hunt rabbits, rats, and small mammals such as mice and voles. When a falcon garbs its prey in flight, this is regarded as “on the wing.”



Falcon is smaller than the hawk, which is generally significant. However, the wings of a hawk are shorter than falcons. Therefore it’s usually heard that Falcon is referred to as a ‘long wing’.

Like other birds of prey, falcons and hawks do also portray sexual dimorphism. Sexual dimorphism happens when two sexes of the same species show other characteristics than the differences in their sexual organs.

For illustration, a male Harris Hawk might weigh approximately 1lb 2oz to 1lb 8oz, while the female of the Harris Hawk can weigh between 1lb 12oz to 2lb 6oz. Sexual dimorphism is shared among the Birds of Prey, and typically, the female of the species is always approximately ⅓ larger than their male counterpart.


Extinct Creature

The peregrine Falcon also offers the perfect model for threats to falcons and other birds of prey. This species faced a sharp decline in the population during the 1960s and 1970s due to harmful pesticides such as DDT. Lesser amounts of toxic pesticides accumulated in the birds’ systems from eating prey exposed to the pesticide.

Over time, this resulted in weakened eggshells laid by female Falcon, which can cause poor reproductive rates and even increased mortality rates in adult birds. By banning and intensive regulation of pesticides and conservation efforts, the peregrine falcon populations have bounced back completely.

The IUC (International Union for Conservation) of Nature listed the Falcon species in their “least concern” category. The impact on the species of falcons provides a grim example of the potential effects of pollution on falcons – and all predators.

All the animals or birds at the top of the food chain, from eagles to killer whales, face a threat from bioaccumulation of toxins. Still, the Peregrine Falcon shows us that regulation and conservation efforts can successfully reverse these impacts and save a species from extinction.


Fascinating Facts about Falcon

They’re the absolute hunters of the avian world—able to spot, track and kill the prey silently and efficiently.


  1. Falcons are Fast… Fast

Peregrine falcons have been seen reaching speeds of 242 miles per hour while diving for prey, recognizing them the fastest recorded animal ever. To allow them to achieve such mind-blowing speeds, these birds boast aerodynamic torsos and especially pointed wings, moreover adapted cardiovascular and respiratory systems that will enable them to beat their wings approximately more than four times per second without fatiguing.


  1. Specific to the heritage of the UAE

These beautiful birds of prey are clever and can be trained for the popular sport of Falconry, one of the most popular sports in the UAE. Falcons are trained to swoop down and attack a decoy, tied to a string and controlled by the trainer. Once the Falcon can capture the seduction, it moves onto live prey. Training can be a long process, and the Falcon and its trainer form a powerful bond.


  1. They can see better than you

Scientists estimated that falcon vision is approximately eight times better than that of humans. This lets the birds spot small prey at a distance of almost two miles away and then swoop down softly to catch it. Evolution has performed its slow magic on the falcon eye to make it so worthwhile.

These birds have an extraordinary eyelid that moves from side to side, which is partially translucent. It allows them to see through it while still taking advantage of its protection. They also possess a ridge over their eyes that shade them from the sun and particular bones in their skull to keep their eyes in place while making sudden moves.


  1. Falcons are not picky eaters

One might think pigeons are resourceful when it refers to scrounging up lunch, but Peregrine falcons are assumed to hunt several thousand different kinds of species of small birds, vertebrates, and rodents for food. If they can spot it and grab it, they’re most likely to consume it.


  1. Extinction of Falcon in North America

Same as the iconic bald eagle, the peregrine Falcon highly suffered in North America from using the pesticide DDT. The chemicals accumulated in falcons’ prey kill the adult birds and weaken the shells of their eggs. The species almost went extinct before DDT was banned, but it has since recovered and was eliminated from the endangered species list in 1999.


  1. They aren’t just fast

Peregrine falcons are also powerful. They’re estimated to migrate as much as 15,500 miles a year, traveling between continents to mate or find food. Now that’s dedication.


  1. Falcons use their beaks as weapons

Unlike other birds of prey, which use only sharp talons on their feet to kill prey, falcons also have a fine-tooth at the end of their beak. With this tooth, falcons can easily sever the neck of their prey.



How much food does a falcon consume in a single day?

The diet of a flacon may differ depending on the type of species and weather. Typically, an adult peregrine can eat up to 2.5 ounces of food each day.

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