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Peregrine falcon (juveniles)        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Peregrines are probably the fastest of all animals under their own power; in a dive they can exceed 200 mph (320 km/h).   They have captured the imagination of people for thousands of years and are considered the ultimate falconer's bird.   Adults (this page) are slate-blue above and barred below; juveniles are brownish above and variably streaked below.  At all ages, peregrines have very big feet, a characteristic stiff, powerful flight, and a dark 'helmet' that permits identification at long distances.   They are considerably bigger than the common American Kestrel; one photo shows a female peregrine and a male kestrel perched about a meter apart.   There was no overt aggression (or even much of a response) from either.
      These juveniles show a range of colors, from light to quite dark (this page shows a juvenile that is probably of the pale 'tundra' race).  All were photographed in California: at Bolsa Chica wetlands in coastal Orange County, near San Diego, the San Jacinto Wildlife Area near Riverside and the Salton Sea.   The preening bird below (looking rather goofy) has a few blue-gray adult feathers on the back; the rest of the plumage -- almost a year old -- shows considerable wear.   Peregrines are often active early and two photos near the bottom of the page were taken well before dawn.   Confession:   I digitally removed bands from marked birds.  More photos of adults are here.

  • Canon 10D, 1D Mk II, 1D3, 7D, 1D4, 0r 7D2; 500 mm IS lens or 800 mm IS lens, most with 1.4X or 2X converter, some with fill-in flash (2003, 2004, 2008, 2010-2016, 2020)