The Bird Corner

The peregrine falcon

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 9:30am

Block Island has always been a wonderful spot to go birding, not only because the island is an important stopover during migration, but due to the many species that live here.

At the Block Island School, we are following the tradition started by Elizabeth Dickens, who began the bird program at the School in the early 1900s. We are grateful to Kim Gaffett for continuing it.

Each year, Mrs. Szabo includes a bird unit in her fourth grade class, and asks her students to choose a bird they think will best make the “Block Island Bird of the Year.” Through nature walks, bird banding with Miss Gaffett, and research, each student chose a bird they believe best represents Block Island.

This is the eighth in a series.

The Peregrine Falcon can spot prey from 3,000 feet away! You can find the peregrine falcon in cliffs, and open wetlands, which Block Island has plenty of. The peregrine falcon’s call is “klee! klee! klee!” 

Because they like open wetlands, Block Island makes the perfect place to see one every once in a while. If you do finally get to see one, you should be very excited, because they are powerful birds! The peregrine falcon is the perfect bird to represent Block Island because they are strong, fast, and very good at catching prey.

Their wingspan is 41 inches wide. Young falcons are brown, while adult falcons are dark gray with white breasts, and a blackish helmet. Young falcons have dark brown streaks that go up and down, while adults have stripes that go side to side. The female is larger than the male, standing about two feet tall, and its wingspan can be more than five feet wide. The peregrine falcon’s beak is curved and sharp. Their feet have sharp talons. They can fly up to 65 mph and dive up to 200 mph!

The peregrine falcon eats mostly birds, and have been seen eating birds as large as a sandhill crane, to as small as a hummingbird. They also occasionally prey on mammals, fish, large insects, bats, mice, and rats. The female lays about three to five eggs in a clutch, and they begin to fly at about six weeks old. The word “peregrine” means wanderer, and they have one of the longest migrations in North America. The peregrine falcon travels to South America, North America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Because of all of their strong and unique features, the peregrine falcon should represent Block Island! Fortunately we have seen many peregrine falcons over the years because there are a lot in New England. There are plenty of food sources here on the Island for them to eat, because we have a lot of rats, mice, and smaller birds here. Block Island is the perfect place to see a peregrine falcon, so hopefully they continue to visit our island.