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The word "animal" comes from the Latin word animale, neuter of animalis, and is derived from anima, meaning vital breath or soul. In everyday colloquial usage, the word usually refers to non-human animals. The biological definition of the word refers to all members of the Kingdom Animalia. Therefore, when the word "animal" is used in a biological context, humans are included.
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About Peregrine Falcon

Posted by WishbonE at 1:43 AM

Friday, August 15, 2008

About Peregrine Falcon

Falco Peregrinus - The large crow-sized falcon Peregrine Falcon is a powerful and fast-flying hunter of the sky. Peregrine Falcon hunts medium-sized birds such as doves, waterfowl, songbirds and pigeons, dropping down on them from high above in a spectacular stoop. Virtually exterminated from eastern North America by pesticide poisoning in the middle 20th century, restoration efforts have made it a regular, if still uncommon sight in many large cities. Peregrine Falcon has one of the longest migrations of any North American bird. Tundra-nesting falcons winter in South America, and may move 25,000 km (15,500 mi) in a year. Maps of the migration of individual falcons determined by satellite telemetry can be seen at Environment Canada. The Peregrine Falcon is cosmopolitan, meaning that the species is found around the world, from the Arctic to the South America. The subspecies found in the Eastern United States is anatum, and referred to as the American Peregrine Falcon.

The scientific name Falco peregrinus, means "wandering falcon" in Latin ( falcon means hook-shaped (falcate) and may refer to the beak or claws). Indeed, the species' common name refers to its wide-ranging flights in most European languages. The Latin term for falcon, falco, is related to falx, the Latin word meaning sickle, in reference to the silhouette of the falcon's long, pointed wings in flight. People have trained falcons for hunting for over a thousand years, and the Peregrine Falcon was always one of the most prized birds. Efforts to breed the Peregrine in captivity and reestablish populations depleted during the DDT years were greatly assisted by the existence of methods of handling captive falcons developed by falconers. The Peregrine Falcon is a very fast flier, averaging 40-55 km/h (25-34 mph) in traveling flight, and reaching speeds up to 112 km/h (69 mph) in direct pursuit of prey. During its spectacular hunting stoop from heights of over 1 km (0.62 mi), the peregrine may reach speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph) as it drops toward its prey. Many falconers prefer to use the Peregrine Falcon because of its spectacular high speed dives. The male bird is referred to as a tiercel and the female as a falcon.

Peregrine nest ledges are usually on cliffs or sometimes tall buildings and large bridges. The male and female falcon remain paired for life, and renew their bond with courtship activity during late winter and early spring. Their courtship is marked by special flight patterns, and by the male bringing the female food. The female peregrine lays her eggs at two-to-three day intervals, until her clutch has three to five eggs, with four the typical number. She shares the duties of incubation with her mate for approximately 31 days. The eyasses, or baby falcons, hatch after spending about two days "pipping" the shells with the sharp egg tooth on their beaks. At hatching, eyasses weigh approximately 1 ½ ounces, are covered in a fluffy white down, and grow rapidly. Their down is replaced by feathers in three to five weeks and they are essentially full grown at six weeks of age. Mortality in the first year of life is very high. Those few peregrines that survive to old age may reach 12 to 15 years. Most peregrines become sexually mature at two or three years of age. Occasionally egg-laying and territorial behavior may occur earlier. An adult peregrine can reach a speed of over 200 miles per hour in a vertical dive called a stoop; in level flight they average about 60 miles per hour.

Many Peregrine Falcons have settled in large cities, including London, Ontario, Derby, Brisbane and Cologne, and all across the U.S., where they nest on cathedrals, skyscraper window ledges, and the towers of suspension bridges. At least 18 pairs nested in New York City proper in 2005. Over 250 falcons have been released through the Virginia program. In the UK, there has been a recovery of populations since the crash of the 1960s. This has been greatly assisted by conservation and protection work led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Peregrines now breed in many mountainous and coastal areas, especially in the west and north, and nest in some urban areas, capitalizing on the urban pigeon populations for food.

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