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Prairie Falcon

Falco mexicanus ORDER: FALCONIFORMES FAMILY: FALCONIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.

Calls

Prairie Falcons respond to a breeding territory intruder with a shrill, yelping, kik-kik-kik alarm call; the tone, frequency and duration of the call vary amongst individuals. When investigating nest sites together, both members of a pair give a characteristic eechup call.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

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.

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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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