The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal. The incredible bird can fly at speed of 200 mph. Their nostrils is one amazing feature that allows them to reach that speed safely. The shape of the nostrils helped engineers design the modern jet engine.
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Peregrine Falcon Facts Video
The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on the planet. They are able to dive at speeds of 200 MPH. It is also known as the “Duck Hawk” and it is the most widely distributed bird of prey. It can be found on six continents. All except Antarctica. Their scientific name is Falco Peregrinus. These birds are powerful hunters that prey on other birds and bats. They dive at the sight of prey and catch their meal mid-flight. No other bird comes even close to matching their speed. Keep reading to learn how they are able to do that and more interesting facts about the Peregrine Falcon.
How Can The Peregrine Falcon Fly So Fast?
The most amazing fact about these birds is their speed. They fly at a speed of about 40 to 60 MPH and dive to hunt at speeds of up to 220 mph. But how are they able to do that?
There are three features that allow them to be the only bird able to fly that fast.
- Their Keel (Breastbone)
- Their pointed and stiff feathers
- Their incredibly efficient respiratory and circulatory systems
The Keel – A bird’s breastbone, called a Keel, is designed for flight. The muscles for flapping are attached to the keel. Peregrine falcon’s keel is very large allowing more muscles to be attached to it and in turn producing more powerful flaps.
The Shape of the Wings -The pointed wings are swept back giving them a streamlined figure and the curved wings create an effective airfoil and aerodynamic effect. The feathers are stiff, reducing the drag that can be caused by loose limp feathers.
The Respiratory System – The peregrine falcon has an amazing ability to breathe effortlessly at 200 MPH. No other bird can do this. They can do this because they have a one-way airflow into their lungs, and air sacs that keep their lungs inflated even when exhaling. Also, to reduce the air pressure, their nostrils have small bones that look like cones called baffles. These cones guide the powerful airflow away from the nostrils allowing them to breathe easily. Otherwise, the pressure would damage the lungs.
The Peregrine Falcon’s nostril design is so perfect, that engineers study this bird to solve modern-day design challenges. They solved a serious flight problem by studying this bird’s nostrils and designed a metallic cone for the opening of the jet engine to solve the wind problem they were facing. When jets move at supersonic speeds, their engines can choke and stall because the air moving in front of the engine appears to hit a wall of resistance. Modeling the jet engine similar to the Peregrine Falcon’s nostrils solved the problem. Engineers continue to study this bird to inspire future aircraft technologies.
Circulatory System – And the third amazing feature that allows them to fly so fast is their circulatory system. Their hearts beat between 600 and 900 times per minute, allowing more oxygen to travel throughout their bodies and thus reducing fatigue. The amazing speed of its heartbeat allows the peregrine falcon to flap its wings up to four times per second, further contributing to its speed.
More Interesting Facts About the Peregrine Falcon
- They are one of the largest and most powerful of all falcons. They have long pointed wings with a short tail. The head and wings are dark. They have a light color breast with spots and stripes under the wings. They have yellow around their eyes and beak, and they have a black “moustache” beak.
- They are between 14 to 19 inches with a wingspan of about 3.5 feet, and weigh anywhere between 1.5 to 3.5 pounds.
- They prefer wide-open spaces. They live mostly in the open country where they hunt over marshes and agricultural land, they thrive near coasts and hunt for duck and shorebirds, but they can be found everywhere from tundra to deserts. These birds also live in major cities and are found on bridges and skyscrapers. In the cities, they hunt for pigeons.
- Outside of nesting season most of these birds migrate. The Irish and the British populations are there all year round but the others travel to warmer weathers during the winter. They can fly as many as 15,500 miles every year. The name “Peregrine” means wanderer. Yet, they have an amazing homing instinct and they go back to their favored aeries.
- They are diurnal, so they are active during the day.
- They catch their prey from above, they sit up high on perches waiting for prey and then they dive at incredible speeds called stoops; with a clenched foot they strike the prey on their wings, and then they catch it in mid-air.
- The Peregrine falcon has excellent binocular vision. It is 8x better than humans. They can see prey up to 1.8 miles away.
- They have a third eyelid which they use to clean their eyes off tears and debris. It is a thin almost transparent lid they move from side to side. This helps them maintain their good vision when flying fast.
- They are solitary and territorial. And only spend about 16-18 weeks with their mate to raise their young.
- Once eggs are laid, between 3 and 4, both mother and father help to incubate them and they hatch after a month. The chicks are called eyases. They eat an incredible amount of food. In six days they double their weight, at three weeks they are ten times their size at birth. The chicks are born entirely white, even their beaks.
- The average lifespan is thought to be about 17 years, but the oldest recorded Peregrine Falcon was at least 19 years, 9 months old. This was recorded by its band in Minnesota in 2012, the same state where it had been banded in 1992.
Peregrine Falcon Conservation Status
Peregrine Falcons were virtually eradicated from North America by pesticide poisoning, specifically DDT, in the 1950’s and 60’s. They became an endangered species, but have made an incredible rebound once the use of DDT and other chemicals was reduced. Thanks to significant recovery efforts by many, the peregrine falcons are now a regular sight in many large cities and coastal areas. They are currently listed in the IUCN Red Lsit as Least Concern.
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