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What is a Peregrine Falcon?

  • Peregrine Falcons are a species of falcon found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Peregrine means “To wander”. So Peregrine Falcon means “Wandering Falcon
  • Like Hawks and eagles, falcons are “raptors” or Birds of Prey, which means that they hunt with sharp beaks, razor sharp talons and excellent eyesight.
  • They can reach 240 miles per hour while diving during a hunt!

Peregrine Falcon Range

Purple – Year Round
Orange – Breeding
Blue – Winter

Local Extinction

  • Before the 1940’s, Peregrine Falcons were fairly common in New Jersey.
  • Due to pesticides such as DDT, many species of hawks and falcons began to disappear from NJ. Eventually, the Peregrine Falcon was extirpated (local extinction, but live elsewhere) from the state in the late 1950’s.
  • When DDT (weakened the eggshells of many birds, causing parents to accidentally crush their eggs) was banned in 1972, Peregrine falcons were reintroduced into the wild and began breeding again in the 1980’s. Their numbers have been increasing ever since.

Behavior

  • Peregrines are one of the most fearsome raptors in the world.
  • They are known to attack much larger birds such as Bald Eagles, Osprey and other hawks.
  • When defending a nest, they will charge and attack anything that approaches.
  • Despite that, they are excellent hunters and very dutiful parents, targeting prey such as pigeons, gulls, orioles, cardinals, woodpeckers and sparrows.

How the Fastest Animal on Earth Attacks Its Prey

The Peregrine falcon is not your average avian predator. When hunting, this remarkable bird will fly to great heights, then dive bomb its prey abruptly at speeds of up to 242 mph.

Peregrine Falcon attacking a Cooper’s Hawk

Peregrine Falcon (Left) attacking a Cooper’s Hawk (Right) at Sandy Hook, NJ

Where to find them

  • Peregrine Falcons can be found on coastlines and shores, cliffs, wetlands, cities and even on offshore islands.
  • While hundreds migrate through New Jersey every year, there are resident populations that live here year-round!
  • Places like Sandy Hook, Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, Richard W. Dekorte Park, Palisade Interstate Park always have Peregrine Falcons. These places also have active breeding pairs.
  • They can also be found on various bridges, towers and other tall man-made structures.

Examples

Adult female under the NJ Turnpike bridge in Lyndhurst, NJ
Adult female on a water tower at Sandy Hook, NJ
Peregrine Falcon Pair in Elizabeth, NJ

Union County Falcon Cam

Screenshot of the Union County Falcon Camera
  • The Union County Falcon Camera is the only active falcon camera in the state of New Jersey.
  • This camera documents the lives of the Falcons that occupy the Union County courthouse in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
  • The current pair have successfully reared 3 broods since 2019.

Current OccupantsFrida

  • Resident female arrived in 2019 after taking over the nest from another female.
  • Has laid a total of 12 eggs over the past 3 years
  • Successfully reared 11 fledglings.
  • Does not like visitors.

Current OccupantsMango

  • Resident male who has occupied the nest since 2016
  • Has had 3 known mates – current mate is Frida
  • Reared 5 broods since 2016.
  • Possibly raised as many as 21 fledglings since 2016.
  • Very caring and dutiful father.

Where is the nest located?

The Union County Courthouse building in Elizabeth, New Jersey

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