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Merlin Bird ID

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    Prairie Falcon

    ID Info
    Silhouette FalconsFalcons

    Prairie Falcon

    Falco mexicanus
    • ORDER: Falconiformes
    • FAMILY: Falconidae
    Basic Description

    A raptor of the West’s wide-open spaces, Prairie Falcons glide above shrubby deserts and grasslands searching for ground squirrels and other small mammals and birds. In flight, look for the dark triangle of “armpit” feathers that distinguish it from other light-colored falcons. On the breeding territory you may hear a Prairie Falcon pair’s loud courtship calls, but roosting birds can be tough to spot: their muted cream, brown, and gray plumage blends perfectly with the steep bluffs and cliffs where they nest.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Prairie FalconRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    Look for these fairly large falcons in the open, treeless spaces of the West, where they can be dwarfed by the size of the landscape. Prairie Falcons spend much of the day on the move, so you'll need to be quick with your binoculars. Watch for them cruising fairly low over the land rather than soaring high in the sky. It's also worth scanning for perched birds, which you may find sitting on low perches including fence posts and irrigation structures.

    Other Names
    • Halcón Mexicano (Spanish)
    • Faucon des prairies (French)
    • Cool Facts