Falcons: Their Types, Speed, Diet, Species & Facts

The ultimate hunters of the world of avians; falcons are the quickest and quietest to chase and catch their prey within no time. Since years, falcons have been used as hunting partners for a lot of people in the wild. No doubt why they are considered as one of the most dangerous birds around the world.

Falcons are world-wide famous due to their speed and hunting abilities. They are fast (really, really fast). The Peregrine falcons are known for their wild speed of 242 miles per hour. They are the fastest recorded animal EVER. The wings and torso of these birds have been designed in a way that they are able to beat their wings faster and leap towards their prey effortlessly. Furthermore, their respiratory and cardiovascular systems are also extremely efficient which makes them all the more powerful.



There is a lot to discover about these wild yet eye-catching bird species and this piece of article is dedicated to different types of falcons. It is all about them! We will be sharing the top 10 most amazing falcon species along with their diet and speed. Furthermore, we will be unfolding some interesting and fun facts about falcons that not a lot of people know about. So let’s dig into the world of these hunters and amuse ourselves a bit, shall we?

Some Interesting Facts about Falcons:

Falcons interesting facts

Before we jump into the different types of falcons and what makes them different from one another, we will be sharing some very interesting facts about these birds overall. Although there are innumerable species of falcons but there are a bunch of facts which make them come under the falcon family. Yes, they are beast-like flyers and even space x named their rockets after them, like the Falcon 9 & Falcon Heavy, but what else do you know about them?

Let’s find out!

Highly Devoted Partners:

Falcons are very devoted to their partners. They do not play around; NAH NAH! They mate for life and devote themselves to just one partner for reproductivity. However, falcons do not spend life together with each other, even if they mate. They just come together for mating purposes and then live on their own, like hunters do. The interesting fact here is that they only mate with one partner for years.

Better EyeSight than Humans:

According to studies, falcon’s have eight times better and sharper eyesight than humans. They are capable of spotting their prey from a distance of two miles. And then they leap towards it, in full speed, concentrating on their movement too. What makes their eyesight so sharp though? Well, they have an extra eyelid. Moreover, they have a ridge over their eye which provides them with an exceptional shade from the sun. Lastly, they have special skull bones which allow them to keep their eyes in one place even when they are making fast and swift movements. All in all, the falcon’s eye system is designed in such a manner that it beats the human eye.

Their weapon is their Beak:

A lot of birds use the sharp talon on their feet to attack their prey or even humans. But unlike those, falcons use their beaks as their weapon. They have a hooked beak. This is because they have a sharp tooth at the end of their beak which has the ability to sever necks within no time. WOAH! There is a reason why they are the ultimate hunters of the avian world.

Falcons can eat Whatever they want to:

Some birds eat some specific species but falcons are not picky at all. If they can spot a prey; they are just going to leap over it and hunt it down. Falcons have hunted on several different species. Thus, they are not picky eaters at all.

They can attack humans:

WATCH OUT! Falcons can attack humans who might enter their territory. If you are trying to mess with a falcon, be ready to tackle the danger ahead. Their beak is enough to make you yell in pain. Better not mess with them.

Diurnal Birds:

Falcons are termed as diurnal birds. This term is used for birds who hunt or are active during the day and falcons are mostly active during the daytime.

Breeding Season:

During the breeding season, male falcons perform different acrobatic moves, twists and dives to attract female falcons. Once a female is attracted, they provide her with food, as a symbol of courtship. This is provided to the female, while they are mid-air.

So these were just some basic yet interesting facts about falcons but we have a lot more coming. Keep scrolling.

TOP 10 FALCON SPECIES:

There are innumerable falcon species around the world but we will be summing up the top 10 falcon types for you in this article. With every falcon species, we will be demonstrating some interesting facts about them, along with their diet and speeds too. If you love falcons, you are certainly at the right place.

PEREGRINE FALCON:

PEREGRINE FALCON

Also known as the Duck Hawk, the Peregrine Falcon is one of the fastest and most talked about falcon species in the avian world. It is also referred to as the best hunter in the falcon family. Peregrine has breeding populations, almost in every continent of the world, apart from just Antarctica. What makes this species extremely famous is its diving speed. It is known to surpass the speed of 300km per hour. The maximum recorded speed of Peregrine is 242 miles per hour. It is not only the fastest bird in the world but is termed as the fastest “animal” too.

Peregrine falcons usually prey on other birds as a source of their diet. They can easily prey on ducks and bats along with songbirds as well. They also eat starlings, grebes and quails. Thus, they are also said to be dangerous birds of wildlife. The mortality rate of Peregrines is quite high. They can live up to 15 years easily. Only in rare cases, these falcons live above 15 years.

There are a lot of interesting facts linked to Peregrines. For instance, did you know that the design of jet engines was influenced by peregrine’s nostrils? The falcon’s nostrils were used as a model. Researchers discovered that the cone in the opening of their nostrils helped in passing air properly. This solved a lot of difficulties for the jet engine creators and they studied the peregrine’s nostrils in detail to get the engine accurate.

Peregrine have a binocular vision which is stated to be eight times better and more efficient than the human eye. They can easily view from a 3km distance. Research shows that these birds have the best vision when they turn their head to a 40km angle.

MERLIN:

Merlin Falcon

Don’t be fooled by the size of this falcon as it is famous for its sudden and powerful attacks. Merlin is a fierce falcon that is usually seen during winters. To identify a merlin, you must know that they are small in size, with sharp and pointed wings, a medium tail and a broad chest. It is said that they are a little larger than American Kestrels but a little less than rock pigeons.

Merlins are found in forests mostly. They are nested there, in open areas or along the river side. You can find these falcons in abundance in North America. But with passage of time, Merlins have also made their space in towns and cities. Look out for them during winters especially as they attack out of nowhere.

Merlin falcons are usually dark in color and have streaks. But their coloration differs from region to region and by gender too. Male merlins are mostly gray in color. The gray shade varies between a darker and salty gray shade. On the other hand, female merlins are usually on the browner side. The chest of female merlins are streaked heavily, with the underwings being dark. They usually have a lifespan of 11 years but they can die within 11 months too.

By behavior, Merlin falcons are known to be extremely fierce. They are known to be highly energetic predators. Merlins patrol in open areas to prey on small birds and can eat dragonflies as well. Their flying capacity is quite fast as they beat their wings rapidly. These birds usually spend their time in open areas, searching for their prey.

GYRFALCON:

GYRFALCON

Gyrfalcon is the largest falcon in the world and is one of the most fierce predators as well. Powerful and beauty in all possible ways; Gyrfalcon is the ultimate falcon which the world wants to see. This incredible beast breeds in Iceland, Finland, Greenland and Norway, along with Northern America and Russia. But these falcons are not seen during extreme winters. They migrate when the winters become too brutal for them to handle.

Gyrfalcons usually prey on ptarmigan most of the time. But it also hunts down on various birds like auks, gulls, fulmars, terns, owls, hawks and ravens etc. It is said that they have the ability to hunt down mammals also. Another interesting fact is that female gyrfalcons have the ability to store food as well. When their little ones cannot eat a lot, they store the leftovers and retrieve them later, when needed by their kids or themselves.

During the breeding season, these falcons require at least 2-3 pounds of food every single day. It means that they have to hunt down 2-3 trains per day. But if they are unable to hunt down ptarmigans, they prey on whatever bird species they can, as mentioned above. Male gyrfalcons are smaller in size than females. Females weigh around 4 pounds, whereas male gyrfalcons are around 3 pounds. Both the genders have variable coloration. They usually vary between pure white and salty gray colors. According to stats, a Gyrfalcon can live up to 15 years, depending on the weather conditions.

EURASIAN HOBBY:

Eurasian hobby falcon

If you are looking for a falcon that is not known to be a beast, then the Eurasian Hobby is the perfect example of elegance. It is tagged as a small and elegant falcon species which has amazing flying and flight skills. It is famous for its powerful flight which makes it easy for the bird to catch the tiniest insects as well. They are known for their graceful flight and you can tag this bird as the most graceful falcon of all.

Eurasian Hobby has different shades of gray all over it and its underparts are a darker shade of gray with white variations as well. Their face is white but is covered with a black mask, eyebrows and mustache. Their legs are orange and have a fine and bare tail.

These birds hunt during the dawn or the dusk and not in between the day. They are usually found in marshes, taiga, savanna and woodlands. It is very rare to find an Eurasian Hobby in mountainous areas. They usually nest in foothills and lowlands.

Eurasian Hobbies are silent by nature. They do not sing a lot apart from their breeding season. Also, they sing in low voices during the nesting season as well. Apart from these two major conditions, these falcons are not heard. Furthermore, during the breeding season, both the male and the female eurasian’s portray amazing aerial displays.

Coming to their diet, they eat a lot of insects. They can easily catch dragonflies, moths, grasshoppers, beetles and crickets etc. But their main diet is on birds! They can easily prey on sincets while they are in their flight but their major prey are other birds. It can easily catch martins and swallows while it is landing. They can also eat bats and lizards. Thus, their diet is quite diverse and they simply attack and eat, whatever they please. Eurasian attacks its prey out of the blue, emerging from anywhere, from behind the houses to forest edges.

LANNER FALCON:

Lanner Falcon Bird

Lanner Falcons are powerful and large. They highly resemble Peregrine falcons. But you can distinguish the two by their looks. Lanner has a reddish cap on the top of its head which sets it apart. These species vary a lot in their size and coloration. Their size is highly dependent on the region that they live in. Overall, the lanner has a light colored chest with dark blotches or stripes on it. It has dark wings and a large tail and the skin around its eyes along with its legs, is all yellow.

The Lanner is a hunter falcon for sure. It is well-equipped and oh-so powerful. Its beast-like talons, which are long enough, are its major hunting weapon. Furthermore, the notch on its beak, which is better known as tomial tooth adds to its beastlike features. This tooth is extremely sharp and is used by the lanner to kill its prey at the spot. This is why it is known to be a wild hunting falcon!

It has an extremely sharp eyesight and can be found on perches as well. You can easily spot one in different parts of Africa, in the Middle East and the Medittereran as well. However, like a lot of wild birds, Lanner is facing a lot of threat as it is hunted down in several areas. It is facing a major decline.

Coming to what they eat, Lanner not only preys on birds. They also eat mammals, like bats and rodents. Their usual diet consists of grasshoppers, termites and locusts. Their diverse diet requires them to have exceptional hunting techniques and the planner has all of them. From its fast pursuits to its tomial tooth and its sharp wings; everything combines together to create this beast.

RED-FOOTED FALCON:

Red Footed Falcon

Known as the bird of prey, the Red-footed falcon is widespread in Asia and Eastern Europe. It migrates to Africa during the winter season. This falcon is termed as a diurnal bird of the open country. Red-footed falcon is medium in size and has long wings. They are usually 28-34cm in size and have wings of 65-75 cm. The male and female red-footed falcons vary in colors. The female has grey wings and back, and an orange head and underparts. Its face is white with black mustache and eye strip. On the other hand, the male is entirely blue-ish gray in color apart from his legs and undertail.

The hunting technique of Red-footed falcon is compared to the Common Kestrel. It is known to hover, to search for prey on the ground. It then makes a quick and steep dive towards its prey. This flacon usually hunts large insects but can eat birds and mammals too.

Red-footed falcons are colonial breeders. This means that they reuse nests of corvids and lay 2-4 eggs. These falcons do not appear to be very powerful but they have sufficient power to catch their prey within no time.

AMERICAN KESTREL:

AMERICAN KESTREL

Weighing just 3-6 ounces, American Kestrel is the smallest falcon to exist in North America. A baby Kestrel is going to weigh nothing more than 20-24 pennies. But, do not be fooled by its size or weight, because this one is amazing at hunting, just like all its fellow falcon species.

American Krestles exist all around North America and can be found in southern and Central America as well. They are found in abundance in Canada and Alaska, so if you want to experience looking at an American Kestrel then you can visit these places. These birds usually migrate to warmer areas during the winter season. This is because their prey usually hibernates during the cold weather. Thus, they migrate to areas where they can easily find their meals.

American Kestrel might be the smallest falcon to exist but it is also one of the most beautiful ones to see. It is an eye-catching bird by all means as it is colorful and graceful. It has a pattern of various colors all over it. From blue to red and from grays to browns; this small falcon catches your eye with its beauty. Moreover, they are incredible flyers too and are known for their acrobatic skills.

Just like all the other falcons, American Krestles are also wonderful at hovering. They flap their wings swiftly and vigorously and just like a helicopter, they stay mid-air, looking for their prey and then attacking it out of the blue. Sadly, these beautiful falcons are now threatened by humans in North America. They are declining rapidly and it is a shame for the human kind.

Coming to their diet, American Kestrels feed on snakes, lizards, large insects and mice etc. these falcons are known for keeping agriculture farms clean of insects and pesticides. American Krestles plunge down into a stoop and catch whatever prey they view, within their sight. Also, just like most of the falcons, these species spend their time alone as they are a huge symbol of solidarity. Apart from the breeding season, Krestles live on their own, alone.

LAGGAR FALCON:

LAGGAR FALCON

The Laggar is a medium to large-sized falcon which is usually found in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and south-east Afghanistan. Laggar resembles the Lanner a bit but is darker in color overall, and has black leggings. Their underparts are all black.

Sadly, this is another falcon species which is highly threatened. They have commonly seen falcons in their respective regions but have now, drastically decreased in number. Laggar falcons are usually found in open areas that have a lot of scattered trees. But as they are near to none left of these beauties, there isn’t much information recorded about them.

LESSER KESTREL:

LESSER KESTREL

Lesser Kestrel is a small-sized falcon, being just 29-32cm in size. The male and female lesser kestrels vary in colors. Females are rusty in color and have streaking in their underparts, along with white nails. On the other hand, males have a gray rusty appearance overall with a gray head and black feathers. Till now, Lesser Kestrels have no subspecies.

These falcons rely on small mammals and insects for their diet, like mice, beetles, grasshoppers and other small animals. It is habitat to warm and dry weather conditions and is found in open areas, where it is easier for them to prey on insects and small mamalas. They are known as “migratory” falcons as they travel back to Africa in February or March for their breeding season.

During the breeding season, Lesser Kestrels live in rural areas. They breed in holes or cavity walls and under roofs of ancient buildings. They breed in groups, just like they hunt in groups as well. The female lesser kestrel lays around 3-6 eggs and both the male and the female incubate their eggs for 28-30 days in May.

Sadly, Lesser Kestrel is the second most endangered bird species around the world at the moment. Since the late 20th century, a 90% decrease has been experienced in this falcon species.

AMUR FALCON:

AMUR FALCON

This is the last falcon species on our list of the top 10 world’s best falcon species; the Amur Falcon. It is famous as a migratory raptor and every year, they migrate from China and Russia to Southern Africa, during the winter season. It is said that these birds cross the Arabian Sea during their migration, in abundance. But during their migration, Amur Falcon is killed and nested while they pass through innumerable regions. They have been illegally trapped and killed by people and that is why, they are yet again, another endangered falcon species.

Amur Falcons usually rely on insects as a source of their diet. It is said that they prey on insects, while being in the air. The best part about their migration is that they migrate at a time when there are large insects in the environment, especially dragonflies. Also, when they are migrating in huge flocks; it is a site worth viewing. But sadly, their flocks are being disrupted largely and several steps are being taken to keep them safe.

So, these are the top 10 falcon species around the world. But there are so many more that we couldn’t just fit in. Black Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel and Sooty Falcon and the list can go on. These beautiful species are famous for their flying and hunting skills and there are nothing less than an eye catching bird to view. However, they are sometimes confused with hawks and before we close this piece of article, we have summed up the difference between the two birds, right here for you.

Falcon vs Hawk: What is the difference?

hawks vs falcons

Almost all of us assume that falcons and hawks are the same. But they are different and they have a few significant differences that we usually do not look into. Falcons belong to one family whereas hawks do not. They can belong to different families. They are some minor differences and some major ones too and we will be doing a quick falcon vs hawk session here to educate you guys. Let’s get into this.

Falcons:

  • There are 40 different species of Falcon family existing at the moment, around the world.
  • They are highly populated bird species.
  • Falcons are famous for their datatable nature. They can survive in almost all kinds of habitats.
  • They usually live from 12-20 years. They can survive up till 25 years but it is rare.
  • The largest species of these birds to exist is Gyrfalcon.
  • Falcons are known for their flying skills. They are one of the fastest flyers. Their top speed is 250mph.
  • They are famous for their binocular eyesight which is eight times more efficient than the human eye.
  • Female falcons are known to be larger in size than the males.
  • Falcons hunt during the day time usually.

Hawks:

  • Hawks are known to have 270specieis at the moment, around the world.
  • They hunt through their sharp bill. they use it to tear their prey apart as well.
  • Hawks are also fast flyers but they cannot beat a falcon. Their estimated top speed is 150mph.
  • Hawks are usually found in Northern and Central America along with some areas in Jamaica and the West Indies.
  • The average lifespan of hawks is 13-20 years which is somewhat similar to falcons.
  • Hawks do not have a specific diet at all. They simply eat anything that they get, ranging from insects to animals and birds and even reptiles.
  • Hawks are able to distinguish between colors which is quite unusual for a bird.

By sight and a lot of features and traits, hawks and falcons seem the same. But they are not. Comparing the two, we realise that hawks are slower than falcons. Where falcons have advantage of their speed, hawks have advantage of their size. But at the end, both are amazing prey birds and they have their individual hunting skills and features that make them the best at what they do.

Takeaway

Falcons are beautiful beasts! Yes, we are going to put it this way for you. These powerful birds might be dangerous but they are extremely eye catching and graceful. From their swift movements to their vigorous flying and sudden attacking skills; everything makes them a powerful beast of a bird. We are just as amazed as you are, by these amazing species. We hope that you enjoyed gathering some interesting facts about falcons and read through the top 10 falcon species in the world.

Do share any additional information about these falcon species with us in the comments below and we will be happy to hear them and add up to our knowledge.

Images credit:

Life Falcon