The peregrine falcon can reach speeds of 320 km/h during its dive attack, a hyperfast dive to catch prey, mainly pigeons and turtle doves. This makes it about three times faster than a cheetah. In 2005, a peregrine falcon was observed reaching speeds of 389.46 km/h, and when flying level this bird can range from 64 to 97 km/h, which is also one of the fastest cruise flights in the avian world.
The peregrine falcon is built for speed. It has a modified sternum called keel which is the point of attachment of the flight muscles. It is these powerful muscles that allow the bird to reach such speed. Its pointed wings are covered with rigid, slender feathers that give it an aerodynamic shape, reducing air resistance when the bird dives to hunt. Its powerful and efficient heart keeps the muscles supplied with oxygen at all times, which prevents the bird from being exhausted.
What are the differences between the Peregrine Falcon and the Prairie Falcon?
Its two falcons of the same size differ in their diet and hunting method. Most of the peregrine falcon's diet consists of small animals and birds, but it also eats insects and reptiles. The prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus) usually concentrates on a single common species and is easy to catch at a time. It often hunts by flying close to the ground to surprise its prey.
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- Animal Minutes