The Peregrine Falcon is often stated to be the fastest animal on the planet in its hunting dive, the stoop, which involves soaring to a great height and then diving steeply at speeds commonly said to be over 322 km/h (200 mph), and hitting one wing of its prey so as not to harm itself on impact.
The Peregrine Falcon hunts at dawn and dusk, when prey are most active, but in cities also nocturnally, particularly during migration periods when hunting at night may become prevalent.
It requires open space in order to hunt, and therefore often hunts over open water, marshes, valleys, fields and tundra. It searches for prey either from a high perch or from the air.
Once prey is spotted, it begins its stoop, folding back the tail and wings, with feet tucked.
The Peregrine Falcon became an endangered species because of the use of pesticides, especially DDT during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Pesticide biomagnification interfered with reproduction, thinning eggshells and reducing the number of eggs that survived to hatching. The organochlorine build-up in the falcon’s fat tissues would result in less calcium in the eggshells, leading to flimsier, more fragile eggs.
In several parts of the world, such as the eastern USA and Belgium, this species became extinct as a result. Peregrine eggs and chicks are often targeted by black marketeers and unscrupulous egg collectors, so it is normal practice not to publicize unprotected nest locations.
The Peregrine Falcon was used in falconry for more than 3,000 years, beginning with nomads in central Asia.] Due to its ability to dive at high speeds, it was highly sought-after and generally used by experienced falconers. Peregrine Falcons are also occasionally used to scare away birds at airports to reduce the risk of bird-plane strikes, improving air-traffic safety.