This book investigates all aspects of Peregrine Falcon life, from plumage, through diet, breeding and survival. The falcons breed on all continents apart from Antarctica and data has been collected from across that vast range. In addition, modern technology has been used to study the ﬂights which have made the falcon famous as arguable the fastest creature on the planet. Allied to excellent photography the result is a comprehensive book on this most iconic bird.
In the second half of the last century the need to increase food production led to the widescale application of chemicals on farmland. But the chemicals had a disastrous effect on Peregrine Falcons, causing both the breaking of eggshells and the killing of adult birds. Everywhere the chemicals were used the Peregrine population fell sharply: in some areas the falcons were extirpated. Alerted by both amateur and professional rnithologists to an impending catastrophe, governments banned the chemicals. Slowly the Peregrine population began to rise, in part prompted by the bird’s remarkable ability to adapt. In parts of its range the falcon realised that buildings could be utilised as make-shift cliffs for breeding. And where humans congregated, pigeons flourished. That combination of potential breeding sites and high densities of a preferred prey meant an increase in urban living for the resourceful Peregrine, and numbers climbed steadily. The falcons’ arrival in town increased human interest. Nestboxes were provided and video cameras were installed to watch Peregrine family life. Added to its fabulous ﬂying abilities and renowned speed, the falcon that had once been seen only by those who sought it out in remote, wild places, became a star of local CCTV.
1. The Falcons 10
2. The Peregrine Falcon 34
3. Flight Characteristics: Flight, Hunting Techniques and Strategies 92
4. Diet 162
5. Food Consumption and Energy Balance 246
6. Breeding Part 1: Pair Formation to Nest Sites 256
7. Breeding Part 2: Eggs to Fledglings 292
8. Movements and Winter Grounds 364
9. Friends and Foes 394
10. Population: Survival and Population Numbers 416
Richard Sale is a physicist with a PhD in astrophysics, who now devotes his time to studying the three small UK breeding falcons and their flight dynamics. He has written several books on birds. The Gyrfalcon (co-authored with Russian friend Eugene Potapov) won the US Wildlife Society Book of the Year in 2006. More recently he co-authored Steller’s Sea Eagle with Russian colleagues Vladimir Masterov and Michael Romanov: the book won the US Wildlife Society Book of the Year in 2019. In 2021 Sale became the first author to win the Wildlife Society’s book award prize three times with his monograph on The Common Kestrel. His other books include The Snowy Owl (also with Eugene Potapov), the New Naturalist title Falcons, a monograph on Merlin, and The Eurasian Hobby (with Anthony Messenger).
Steve Watson is a retired Chartered Accountant who has always had a passion for raptors but Peregrine Falcons in particular. He is a Trustee of Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group CIO(GRMG) and Raptor Aid CIO and also a committee member of South West Peregrines. He has
conducted a 40-year study of the Symonds Yat, Gloucestershire, England Peregrines, whilst also presenting lectures throughout the UK. He has read widely on the subject, being motivated by an insatiable desire to attain a full understanding of all aspects of this most charismatic of birds.