Peregrine falcons form monogamous pair bonds that often last throughout many breeding seasons. Both males and females have a strong attachment to previous nesting sites, which may explain monogamy over multiple breeding seasons, rather than attachment between individuals.
Males display at nest ledges to attract females and advertise ownership to other falcons. The development of a pair bond is first indicated by the male and female roosting near each other. Eventually they sit at the nest ledge side by side. Individuals may also peep at each other, preen, nibble their mate's toes, or "bill" (gently grab the other bird's bill in their own). Both sexes may then engage in "ledge displays", centered on the area of their nest, or scrape. Prior to egg-laying, the pair will engage in incredible aerial displays, involving power dives, tight cornering, high soaring, and body rolls during a dive. Once the pair has formed, they begin to hunt cooperatively and females begin to beg for food from the male.
Mating System: monogamous
Peregrine falcons breed between March and May, depending on how far north they are breeding. Females usually lay their eggs in mid-May and they usually hatch in mid-June. Peregrine falcons lay one egg every 48 hours, for a total of from 2 to 6 eggs. Eggs are laid in a nest high on cliffs, tall trees, or tall buildings. Falcons make nests that are called 'scrapes', or simple small depressions dug into the sand or dirt and lined with fine materials. They may sometimes use nests that were built by other birds. Eggs hatch in 33 to 35 days. Young birds learn to fly 35 to 42 days after hatching. It typically takes 3 years for the young to reach adulthood and be able to breed. Females most frequently breed earlier than males.
Breeding interval: Falcons typically raise one clutch yearly, although in rare circumstances more than one clutch may be attempted. If a first clutch is lost soon after laying, another clutch will be attempted after about 2 weeks.
Breeding season: Peregrine falcons breed between March and May, depending on latitude.
Range eggs per season: 2 to 6.
Range time to hatching: 33 to 35 days.
Range fledging age: 35 to 42 days.
Average time to independence: 6 weeks.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 to 5 years.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 to 8 years.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 years.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
Average birth mass: 37.5 g.
Average eggs per season: 3.
Both parents incubate eggs and care for the young. Females generally incubate the eggs for greater proportions of the time than do males. Young are brooded almost continuously until they are 10 days old. Young birds remain dependent on their parents for several weeks after fledging. As the young become more adept at flying, parents begin to deliver prey to them by dropping them in the air. The young then pursue and capture this already-dead prey in the air. In migratory populations, young become independent at the onset of migration, usually around 5-6 weeks post-fledging. Young in non-migratory populations may be dependent for slightly longer.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)
- White, C., N. Clum, T. Cade, W. Hunt. 2002. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). The Birds of North America, 660. Accessed March 24, 2006 at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/BNA/account/Peregrine_Falcon/..