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Posts Tagged ‘Peregrine Falcon’

What is the fastest animal on earth? My mind immediately thinks of the cheetah, which can run in short bursts at speeds up to 75 miles per hour (121 km/h). Indeed the cheetah is the fastest land animal. However, the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), the fastest member of the animal kingdom, can reach speeds up to 242 miles per hour (389 km/h) when in a dive.

I was thrilled last week to spot this Peregrine Falcon perched at the top of a distant tree while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The bird was hard to see on an overcast day, but the muscular way that it was perched caused me to conclude that it was a bird of prey. I took this shot with my macro lens in order to document my sighting. As I was pulling out my camera with a longer zoom lens, the falcon flew off into the air. It flew away too fast for me to get a shot

When I read about the top speed of the Peregrine Falcon, I wondered how in the world that speed was determined. I came across this fascinating National Geographic film clip that documents one effort to measure the speed of a Peregrine Falcon. It is a short video that is well worth watching and includes a trained falcon and sky-diving scientists.

I love watching birds of all shapes and sizes, but there is something really special about seeing a powerful raptor like this Peregrine Falcon.

 

Peregrine Falcon

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I first looked at this bird through my telephoto lens this morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I was struck by its incredible eyes. After marveling for a moment at those spectacular eyes,  I suddenly realized that I had never seen a bird like this before and was not sure of its identification.

It turns out that this is a Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), one of the fastest creatures on the earth. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a Peregrine Falcon can reach speeds of 69 miles per hour (112 kn/h) in flight and when diving from high in the air a Peregrine Falcon  may reach speeds of 200 mph (320 km/h) as it drops toward its prey.

Peregrine Falcon

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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