The Fastest Animal on the Planet - Peregrine Falcon

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known simply as the Peregrine, and historically as the "Duck Hawk"
in North America, is a cosmopolitan bird of prey in the family
Falconidae. It is a large, crow-sized falcon, with a blue-gray back,
barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache". It can reach
speeds over 320 km/h (200 mph) in a stoop, making it the fastest
animal on the planet. As is common with bird-eating raptors, the female
is much bigger than the male. Experts recognize 17–19 subspecies, which
vary in appearance and range; there is disagreement over whether the
distinctive Barbary Falcon is a subspecies or a distinct species.

The Peregrine's breeding range includes land regions from the Arctic
tundra to the Tropics. It can be found nearly everywhere on Earth,
except extreme polar regions, very high mountains, and most tropical
rainforests; the only major ice-free landmass from which it is entirely
absent is New Zealand. This makes it the world's most widespread bird of
prey. Both the English and scientific names of this species mean
"wandering falcon", referring to the migratory habits of many northern

While its diet consists almost exclusively of medium-sized birds, the
Peregrine will occasionally hunt small mammals, small reptiles or even
insects. It reaches sexual maturity at one year, and mates for life. It
nests in a scrape, normally on cliff edges or, in recent times, on tall
human-made structures. The Peregrine Falcon became an endangered species
in many areas due to the use of pesticides, especially DDT. Since the
ban on DDT from the beginning of the 1970s onwards, the populations
recovered, supported by large scale protection of nesting places and
releases to the wild.