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WHAT IS THE FALCON?


Falcons are renowned for their speed, grace, and beauty. Falcons are distinguished from other birds of prey by a toothlike projection near the tip of the upper half of the beak. Generally smaller and more streamlined than the hawks, they have small heads, firm compact plumage, and long pointed wings - adaptations that allow them to fly at great speed. In flight they use quick, powerful wing strokes.



Their strong, hooked beak and powerful talons mark the falcons as highly specialized predators. The Falcon's speed and size make it an excellent hunter, able to take some of the larger birds. The long-winged raptor specializes in direct pursuit in the open and thus favours non-forested areas in which to hunt, particularly shores, marshes, river valleys, open moors, and tundra. Even though its level speed of flight exceeds that of most birds, the Falcon takes advantage of height from which to launch its attack. The top speed of its dives (stoops) at prey is estimated at well over 300 km/h.














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Falcons pair for life and usually build their nest on a high, inaccessible cliff. They return to the same nest each year. The nest itself is usually just a simple scrape and the ledge wide enough to take up to four young. Many top predators, both bird and mammal, suffered from poisonous chemicals, but fortunately they were finally banned in the mid 1970s, and since then the Falcon has been making a recovery. Where Falcons are nesting in places vulnerable to egg-collectors, they may be guarded by volunteers. Anyone caught trying to catch a Falcon or steal its eggs is liable to get quite a hefty fine.

 

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