14 Interesting Facts about the Prairie Falcon

A move to the Western United States has brought me in contact with the Prairie Falcon. When I first took photographs of them, I thought that I was getting shots of a peregrine falcon. When I finally discovered my mistake, I knew that it was time to do some reading to start learning what I could about the Prairie Falcon. Here are some of the more interesting things that I learned.

  • The Prairie Falcon’s preferred habitats include barren mountains, dry plains, and prairies
  • Prairie Falcons sometimes bathe in river shallows, but dust-bathing is probably more common than water-bathing, because of the general scarcity of standing water in its habitat


  • As in all falcons, female Prairie Falcons are noticeably bigger than males
  • The Prairie Falcons eats mostly small mammals and birds caught in flight
  • The Prairie Falcon depends on speed and surprise to capture its prey
  • Like the Merlin, Prairie Falcons often hunts by flying fast and low, only a few feet above the ground, hoping to find surprised prey as it comes over the terrain or around a bush
  • The Prairie Falcon’s cruising speed is estimated at 45 mph and it accelerates in the chase
  • Prairie Falcons can dive at speeds up to 120 mph
  • Prairie Falcon typically catches birds by pursuing them in level flight and grasping them, less often knocking them down in spectacular dives like the peregrine falconPrairie-Falcon-In-Flight-2
  • Most Prairie Falcons nests are on overhanging, south-facing cliffs up to 500 feet high
  • The Prairie Falcon often shares its nesting cliff with Common Ravens, Golden Eagles, and Red-tailed Hawks
  • In their cliff nests Prairie Falcons dig out a small scrape to hold their eggs, but don’t add nest material
  • The young Prairie Falcons fledge from 36 to 41 days after hatching and remain with the family for a short time before dispersing
  • Nearly 75% of the young Prairie Falcons die during their first year due to heat, predators and other natural causes


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