Falcons are birds of prey belonging to the genus Falco, which includes about 40 species. Falcons are widely distributed on all continents except Antarctica. Adult Falcons have thin, tapered wings, which enable them to fly at high speed and change direction rapidly. Fledgling Falcons, in their first year of flying, have longer flight feathers, which make their configuration more like that of a general-purpose bird such as a broad-wing.
This makes flying easier while learning the exceptional skills required to be effective hunters as adults. There are many different types of Falcon. These birds kill with their beaks, using a “tooth” on the side of their beaks unlike the hawks Eagles, and other birds of prey, which use their feet.
The largest Falcon is the Gyrfalcon at up to 65 cm in length. The smallest Falcons are the Kestrels, of which the Seychelles Kestrel measures just 25cm. Some small Falcons with long, narrow wings are called Hobbies and some which hover while hunting are also Kestrels. As is the case with many birds of prey, Falcons have exceptional powers of vision, the visual acuity of one species has been measured at 2.6 times that of a normal human. Peregrine Falcons have been recorded diving at speeds of 200 miles per hour, making them the fastest-moving creatures on Earth. The fastest recorded dive for one was 242 miles per hour.
Keywords to learn
Fledgling = A young bird who has just fledged (a process in young birds to obtain wing feathers that are large enough for flight)
Flight feathers = Any of the large primary or secondary feathers in a bird’s wing. Supporting it in flight,
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- Lifespan:Gyrfalcon. 20 years, Peregrine falcon. 25 years.
- Scientific Name:Gyrfalcon. Falco Rusticolus, Peregrine falcon. Falco Peregrines.
- Mass:Gyrfalcon. 1.4kg (3 pounds), Peregrine falcon. Female. 2.4kg (3.3 pounds), Male. 1kg (2.2 pounds).
- Length:Gyrfalcon. Body. 50-63cm(20-25in), wingspan. 109-134cm (42.9-52.7in), Peregrine falcon. Body. 34-58cm(13-23in), wingspan. 74-120cm(29-47in).
- Region found:Gyrfalcon. Arctic coasts, north America, Europe and Asia, Peregrine falcon. All continents except Antarctica.
- Population Status:Gyrfalcon, Peregrine falcon. Least concern.
- Current population trend:Gyrfalcon, Peregrine falcon. Stable.
- Diet:Gyrfalcon, Peregrine falcon. Carnivorous.
- Sexual maturity:Gyrfalcon. 2-3 years, Peregrine falcon. 1-3 years.
The Falcon is a beautiful and very fast flying bird with many different species. They are birds of prey which means they are predators and are dangerous to other birds and small creatures. Now that you know more about the Falcon by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts on the Falcon. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the falcon here: Falcon (answers are on this page)
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Falcon Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. It can take a Peregrine Falcon chick 36 hours to peck out of its shell.
- # 2. The pesticide DDT reduced American Peregrine Falcon numbers to a few hundred.
- # 3. The Gyrfalcon is the largest true Falcon in the world.
- # 4. Gyrfalcons have been highly regarded by falconers throughout history and in the middle ages, only a king could hunt with a Gyrfalcon.
- # 5. The American Kestrel (Falco Sparverius) is the smallest falcon species.
- # 1. How many species are in the Genus Falco?
- # 2. What is the fastest moving animal on Earth?
- # 3. What orders are falcons in?
- # 4. How long does it take for a falcon chick to peck out of it shell?
- # 5. In the middle ages, who could only hunt with a gyrfalcon?