The Peregrine Falcon is the most geographically diverse bird of prey in the animal kingdom-other than the North and South Polar regions, the only place the Peregrine Falcon is not found naturally is New Zealand, with a presence on every continent but Antarctica. This may be the origin of its name-Peregrine (also peregrin, but the preferred spelling in Modern English drops the final E) arrived fairly early to English, from 1350 to 1400 in the Middle English period from the Latin word peregrinus via the Old French faulcon pelerin. Peregrinus meant foreign in Latin-as it applied to falcons it meant ‘coming from somewhere else’, probably in reference to its far-ranging habitats. The Latin word peregrinus derives from peregre meaning abroad, which is taken by combining the Latin per- meaning through and ager meaning a field, literally beyond the boundary of a field.
The peregrine falcon is a medium size bird, the females considerably larger than the males. Peregrines reach full maturity in one year and are known to mate for life. The peregrine is an amazing predator-it takes prey by dropping in a high speed dive called a stoop and can achieve speeds of 200 miles per hour, often killing the other bird on impact.
Image of a wild juvenile peregrine falcon taken at Forsythe National Wildlife Management Area (New Jersery) courtesy William Dalton, used with permission. Click on his name to view his great flickr feed.