Wild Profile: Meet the peregrine falcon

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Fast? Furious? Peregrine falcons are both. Compact and streamlined, they can fly faster than 300 km/h when they’re diving after prey. This makes them one of the speediest birds in the world—and elite killers of the avian variety.

Peregrines prey on ducks and songbirds, as well as bats. Mid-air, they grasp their targets with their talons and slaughter them swiftly, usually severing the victim’s vertebrae with a hooked beak. Like all falcons, peregrines have a special triangular ridge on the upper mandible, called the “tomial tooth.” It’s what they use to deliver the fatal, spine-crushing blow.

Chicks are born in May, hatching in nests built on rocky ledges or cliffs thousands of feet high. Peregrines like to nest near open water, but they’ll also use urban structures: skyscrapers, transmission towers, bridges, or churches. Newborns weigh about 1.5 oz, but they can double their weight in six days. By three weeks old, they’re about 10 times that size!

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