Plants and Animals

Falco peregrinus Peregrine falcon

species photo
David G. Allen
species photo
David Cuthrell

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:
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alger12017
Bay12016
Calhoun12017
Chippewa12017
Delta11957
Genesee12017
Houghton22017
Ingham12017
Jackson12017
Kalamazoo12017
Kent12017
Keweenaw32017
Leelanau11939
Mackinac12017
Macomb32017
Marquette52017
Midland12017
Monroe22017
Muskegon12015
Oakland22017
Ontonagon22003
Ottawa22017
Saginaw12013
St. Clair22017
Washtenaw12017
Wayne52017

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.

Habitat

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.

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

Nesting from first week of April to fourth week of June

Migration from first week of October to fourth week of November

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

References

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.