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12.7: Falco Peregrinus: Peregrine Falcon

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Common Name

  • Peregrine Falcon


The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on earth, going as fast as 200 mph. The peregrine falcon’s average weight is 1,500 grams, and it’s average length, from head to tail, is 51 cm.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Falconiformes
  • Family: Falconidae
  • Genus: Falco
  • Species: F. peregrinus


The peregrine falcon can live in urban areas and rural areas that don’t reach below freezing temperatures. They live in every biome except frozen or snowy ones. It is the most widely spread raptor, living in every continent. The peregrine lives all across United States, Mexico, Oceania, western Europe, South America, and South Africa. They are spread thinly across Asia and Canada.


Cell Biology

The peregrine falcon has eukaryotic cells (cells with nuclei) that include several organelles such as lysosomes and cytosol. Ribosomes are used in the process of creating proteins for the cells, the cytosol is used to fill in the cell outside of the organelles, and the lysosomes are used to break down foreign material.

The peregrine falcon has red blood cells, which are specialized cells that remove waste and deliver oxygen. They are classified as specialized eukaryotic cells.

The cells divide with mitosis and meiosis. Mitosis is when a cell divides and the daughter cells share the same amount of chromosomes as the parent cell. Meiosis is a similar process but the daughter cells only share 1/2 of the chromosomes of the parent cell. Meiosis also produces gametes (cells for reproduction).


Birds evolved from winged Theropod (carnivorous) dinosaurs that were less advanced in flying and walking because of the thin layer of skin connecting the forelimbs and the legs. Birds are a type of reptile, but are warm blooded.


The peregrine falcon’s carnivorous diet consists of small mammals and birds. It uses several types of trees for nesting and usually nests in tall trees. In urban environments it can nest on rooftops, windowsills, trees, and other high places. The peregrine falcon’s diet consists of small birds such as pigeons, crows, etc. and small mammals such as rabbits and mice. It’s reproductive maturity is at 1-3 years of age. It lives to about age 15 in the wild.

Anatomy and Physiology

The peregrine falcon is a two-legged vertebrate with limbs modified for flight. The feathers are made of keratin and wear down easily and become replaced. The feathers also are important for display, communication, flight, and insulation. Feathers are modified scales developed from previous flying reptiles. Contour feathers are for basic flying, rectrices are the tail feathers, and the remiges are the wing feathers. All birds have skeletal modifications for flight including hollow bones, lightweight skeletons, and fused clavicles (acts like a spring during flight). Birds have to deal with weight, lift, drag, and thrust. Birds have a four-chambered heart and two cycles of respiration (mammals only have one respiration cycle). Both respiration cycles happen at the same time. The crop is the enlarged portion of the bird’s esophagus that can store food and is used to feed baby birds. Birds have a gizzard (muscular stomach) which is used to grind food.


The peregrine falcon is non-aggressive toward humans and animals that aren’t prey. This animal is solitary except during mating seasons, when they mate, then care for young. They kill small animals like rabbits for food.




  • Drake Matthew Borman


  • Mark Weber, San Diego Zoo

Supervising Faculty

  • Amy Huff Shah


  • Museum School, San Diego, California


  • Published prior to review.

Edit History

  • Created: April 5, 2013
  • Version 1.0 submitted to CK-12: July 11, 2013
  • CK-12 edits: in progress


  • Middle School (grades 6-8)

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Date Created:
Jul 18, 2013
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