Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)


French: Faucon pèlerin German: Wanderfalke Spanish: Halcón peregrino
Other common names: Peregrine, Barbary Falcon (pelegrinoides, usually including babylonicus), Kleinschmidt's Falcon (“kreyenborgi”)

Falco Peregrinus


, 1771,

Great Britain


Formerly placed in separate genus, Rhynchodon. Genetic data indicate close affiliation to F. mexicanus#R and to F. fasciinucha#R. Cosmopolitan distribution has led to naming of c. 75 subspecies, many of these on flimsy grounds, and majority no longer accepted. Race madens has been elevated to species level under phylogenetic species concept by some authors#R, but level of differentiation relatively low. Race pelegrinoides often accorded species status (usually incorporating babylonicus as a race), but is significantly variable in plumage#R, and appears geographically and morphologically too indistinct a taxon to merit species status; in recent study, both pelegrinoides and babylonicus exhibited very small genetic difference from other forms, and indeed were as distant from each other as from any of the other races sampled#R#R; in addition, claimed sympatry with both brookei and minor without interbreeding in Morocco#R seems unclear#R. Genetic study of North American races indicated that, although pealei genetically well differentiated, individuals of anatum and tundrius are historically inseparable genetically#R; suggestion that latter be subsumed within anatum, however, requires further investigation. Race submelanogenys poorly differentiated, perhaps better synonymized with macropus. Described form kreyenborgi (in the past considered a separate species) is in fact a colour morph of race cassini. Race furuitii originally given as fruitii, but spelling emended on basis of internal information#R. Nineteen subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. p. tundrius C. M. White, 1968 – Arctic tundra of North America from Alaska to Greenland.
  • F. p. anatum Bonaparte, 1838 – North America S of tundra, S (except NW Pacific coast) to N Mexico.
  • F. p. pealei Ridgway, 1874 – coastal W North America from Washington N to W Alaska, and W through Aleutian Is and Commander Is (possibly also coastal Kamchatka and Kuril Is).
  • F. p. cassini Sharpe, 1873 – W South America from Ecuador (locally) S through Bolivia and N Argentina to S Chile, Tierra del Fuego and Falkland Is.
  • F. p. japonensis J. F. Gmelin, 1788 – NE Siberia S to Kamchatka and Japan (may not be the race of coastal Kamchatka).
  • F. p. furuitii Momiyama, 1927 – Ogasawara Is (Volcano Is, possibly also Bonin Is), S of Japan.
  • F. p. calidus Latham, 1790 – tundra of Eurasia from Lapland E to NE Siberia (roughly to region of R Yana and R Indigirka).
  • F. p. peregrinus Tunstall, 1771 – Eurasia S of tundra and N of Pyrenees#R, from British Is and C & SE Europe E to SE Siberia and Russian Far East (Amurland and Ussuriland) and NE China.
  • F. p. brookei Sharpe, 1873 – S France, Spain and coastal N Africa E through Mediterranean to Caucasus and N Iran.
  • F. p. babylonicus P. L. Sclater, 1861 – C Asia, from E Iran to Mongolia.
  • F. p. pelegrinoides Temminck, 1829 – Canary Is E through inland N Africa to Iraq, probably Iran, and Arabian Peninsula.
  • F. p. madens Ripley & Watson, 1963 – Cape Verde Is.
  • F. p. minor Bonaparte, 1850 – Africa S of Sahara, and extending N into S Morocco#R.
  • F. p. radama Hartlaub, 1861 – Madagascar and Comoro Is.
  • F. p. peregrinator Sundevall, 1837 – Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka E to SE China.
  • F. p. ernesti Sharpe, 1894 – SE Asia, Greater Sundas, Philippines and Wallacea E to New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago and Solomon Is.
  • F. p. nesiotes Mayr, 1941 – Vanuatu (S from Torres Is and Banks Is), New Caledonia and Loyalty Is E to Fiji.
  • F. p. macropus Swainson, 1838 – Australia (except SW) and Tasmania.
  • F. p. submelanogenys Mathews, 1912 – SW Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    35–51 cm; male 410–1060 g, female 595–1600 g; wingspan 79–114 cm. Large, stocky falcon, with relatively short tail; prominent moustache usually... read more


    Mostly silent away from breeding site; resident pairs in vicinity of eyrie often vocal for much of... read more


    Extremely variable: breeds from hot tropics to cold, wet marine habitat; also arid hot or cold... read more

    Food and feeding

    Chiefly birds; occasionally mammals, including bats (both Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera), rats, rabbits and voles; also insects (... read more


    Laying Feb–Mar in N temperate zone, Apr–May at N high latitudes; Aug–Oct in S Hemisphere; recorded Jun–Dec at... read more


    The most widely distributed of the world’s raptors is highly migratory in N temperate and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES I. Total breeding population worldwide conservatively placed at c. 12,000–18,000 pairs in 1980s, with main concentrations... read more

    Recommended citation

    White, C.M., Christie, D.A., de Juana, E. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).