Plants and Animals

Falco peregrinus Peregrine falcon

species photo
David G. Allen
species photo
Aaron Kortenhoven

Key Characteristics

The Peregrine falcon is relatively large for a falcon, with a wingspan of 41 inches (108 cm). Its body is stocky, with pointed wings and a short tail. The adult falcon has a slate gray back, white breast, finely barred underparts, a black cap, white cheek patch and distinctive dark, heavy “sideburns”.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alger 1 2022
Bay 1 2020
Calhoun 1 2018
Chippewa 1 2022
Delta 1 2022
Genesee 1 2023
Houghton 2 2021
Ingham 1 2022
Jackson 1 2022
Kalamazoo 1 2022
Kent 1 2022
Keweenaw 5 2022
Leelanau 1 1939
Mackinac 1 2021
Macomb 3 2022
Marquette 5 2021
Midland 1 2022
Monroe 2 2022
Muskegon 1 2018
Oakland 2 2022
Ontonagon 2 2003
Ottawa 2 2020
Saginaw 1 2013
St. Clair 2 2022
Washtenaw 1 2022
Wayne 6 2022

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Peregrine falcons historically nested on cliff faces but they have been introduced in several Michigan cities and are fairing quite well where they nest on many types of man-made structures and feed on the abundance of small city birds like Rock pigeons.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Historically, Peregrine falcon populations plummeted because of the bioaccumulation of pesticides in their food chain. Recently, however, their numbers are increasing. They are tolerant of human activity but nest sites should not be disturbed during the early nesting season. Routine ROW maintenance should not affect them. Bridge or building maintenance that includes active nest sites must be scheduled outside of the breeding season, between October and February whenever possible.

Active Period

Migration from first week of March to fourth week of March

Migration from first week of October to fourth week of November

Nesting from first week of April to fourth week of June

Survey Methods

A large effort has been made by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to reestablish the Peregrine falcon population in Michigan and they continue to keep close tabs on the population status and breeding locations. Scanning the tops of buildings, radio towers, and smokestacks may reveal a falcon perched as it looks for prey. Peregrine falcons are migratory but many overwinter in Michigan cities with a large population of Rock pigeons that may support them through the winter.

Visual scans for hunting birds

Survey Period: From fourth week of March to fourth week of August

Time of Day: Daytime


Survey References

  • Bibby, C.J., N.D. Burgess, and D.A. Hill. 1992. Bird Census Techniques. Academic Press, New York.

Technical References

  • Brewer, R., G. A. McPeek, and R. J. Adams Jr., eds. 1991. The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Michigan. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing. 650pp.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.

More Information