With high-speed adaptations such as bullet-like heads, short necks, broad shoulders, and long, pointed wings, falcons are among the fastest birds in the world.
Peregrines are considered the fastest falcons; they are able to cruise in level flight at 50-60 miles an hour and have been clocked at more than 200 miles per
hour in their dives after prey.
The peregrine falcon's speed and grace make it one of the most interesting falcons to watch or study. Its hunting style is Peregrine Falcon spectacular. When
this regal-looking falcon spots its prey, usually smaller birds such as swifts, flickers, robins, jays, crows, and pigeons, it seems to pause in midair, turns
downward with a few rapid wing beats, and dives almost too quickly for the eye to follow. Moving at incredible speed, the peregrine usually strikes its prey
with clenched foot, knocking its prey out of the air and using the notched beak to kill it on the ground. Usually peregrines are successful in killing their prey
only ten to 40 percent of the time. Consequently, they hunt over a wide area, up to 18 miles from their nest.
Partly because they are so fascinating, peregrine falcons have become one of the bestknown symbols in humanity's efforts to save endangered species. Since
the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, peregrines have been the subject of intensive attention to keep them from sliding over the brink into
extinction. An important step in recovery efforts was successful propagation of falcons in captivity and reintroduction back to the wild. The peregrine still
faces serious threats to its survival. These threats include the continued use in Central and South America of dangerous pesticides such as DDT, and the
loss of its wintering habitat.