Falco peregrinus Tunstall, 1771
Class: Aves - Order: Accipitriformes - Family: Falconidae
Status: Natura 2000 Code: A103. This species is listed in Annex I of the Wild Birds Directive, in Appendix II of the Bern Convention, and Annex I of Regional Law n.23/1998.
In Italy, the population of this species does not meet the conditions to be classified within one of the categories of threat (population decline of 30% in three generations, reduced number of mature individuals, and small distribution area) and is therefore classified as "Low Concern" (LC) on the Italian Red List.
Distribution: The species is widespread throughout all the continents, with the exception of areas covered by rainforests. In Italy, over 500 pairs of this species nest. In Sardinia, this species is both permanent and migratory.
Morphology: It is a large bird, having a length that can reach 60 centimeters and a wingspan larger than one meter (up to 1.20 meters). There is a marked sexual dimorphism between males and females. Females, in fact, are much larger than males (by over 30%), and they are almost twice as heavy. The plumage, however, is similar, featuring a livery with a gray-brown color. The tips of its wings are black.
Habitat and Ecology: The species breeds in very different environments, from the mainland to the rocky islets, from mountains to hills. Its only requirement is the presence of cliffs. It avoids heavily wooded areas, small and narrow valleys, and wide cultivated plains. It often stays close to urban centers and sometimes builds nests within them. The bonds of the pairs are weak during the cold season, becoming strong during the late winter with the start of the parade (sexual maturity is normally reached in the second year, but one-year-old individuals have nested successfully). For the nest, walls made of limestone and sandstone are preferred to those of granite or a conglomerate. The couple stays together for life.
This species is highly specialized in catching birds, preferring birds that reside in the territory. Nevertheless, it also hunts migratory birds that weigh between 12 and 1,000 grams.
There have not been any documented cases of this species nesting within this Site of Community Importance, where this species can be seen feeding on other captured birds in open areas with sparse vegetation and wetlands.
Photo Juan Lacruz CC BY-SA - Wikimedia Commons