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Meet the peregrine falcon, the Northwest’s winged speed demon

Peregrine falcons are the world’s fastest bird, reaching 200 mph in dives, which helps them overtake other birds for their meals. In Washington, peregrine falcon nest along the coast, in the San Juan Islands, Puget Sound, the western slopes of the Cascades and even in cities.
Peregrine falcons are the world’s fastest bird, reaching 200 mph in dives, which helps them overtake other birds for their meals. In Washington, peregrine falcon nest along the coast, in the San Juan Islands, Puget Sound, the western slopes of the Cascades and even in cities. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

With long, pointed wings and a narrow tail, peregrine falcons (Falco peregrines) are built for speed. Known for their steep dives, they can reach speeds up to 200 mph, which makes it easy to overtake other birds in flight. They are the world’s fastest bird.

In Washington, peregrine falcon nest along the coast, in the San Juan Islands, Puget Sound, the western slopes of the Cascades and even in cities. Once threatened as a species due to insecticides, they are rebounding in number but are still a vulnerable population.

Some peregrines stay in the Northwest year-round; some move to areas where waterfowl and shorebirds gather during the winter; and some migrate south. They typically hunt in open areas along the coast or near water where their prey live. They usually nest on cliff ledges, and sometimes on tall buildings, towers, and bridges.

Adults are gray, with white chins and throats and undersides that are thinly barred.

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