North America and the globe are home to falcons. Although they are less prevalent and more difficult to see than larger raptors like hawks or eagles, they have captured the attention of people from all walks of life. Falcons are tiny, quick birds that, despite their abundance, have just a few species. I’m talking about the actual birds of prey, not the NFL club in Atlanta, so this essay will concentrate on falcons in Georgia.
3 SPECIES OF FALCON IN GEORGIA
The American Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon are the only falcons that may be found in Georgia.
1. AMERICAN KESTREL
Scientific name: Falco sparverius
Length: 8.7-12.2 in
Weight: 2.8-5.8 oz
Wingspan: 20.1-24.0 in
Kestrels may be seen all year in Georgia, and you may even find them in your backyard. Although these birds do travel across certain regions, for the most part, they don’t. Kestrels prefer open areas, such as meadows, since their bug prey is readily visible. They’ve thrived in urban environments, and they’re frequently spotted around cities. Take a look at the lights next time you’re at an outdoor sporting event as the sun sets. The moths that gather around them are not uncommon for a kestrel or two to devour.
When hunting for prey, kestrels are frequently seen perched on fence posts or power lines, or street lights. Males have reddish-brown backs, slate grey wings, and white bellies with black bars, which distinguishes them from females. The grey wings and heads of females are replaced by a cream belly, as is the case in males. The fact that they’re tiny helps you identify Kestrels. North America’s smallest raptors are these.
Scientific name: Falco columbarius
Length: 9.4-11.8 in
Weight: 5.6-8.5 oz
Wingspan: 20.9-26.8 in
Merlins are only seen when they head for the shore in most of Georgia. However, they winter in the southern portion of Georgia. Merlin weigh almost three times as much as a kestrel, despite being roughly the same size. Merlin are far more muscular than kestrels. As a consequence, merlins are strong flyers that typically fly fast and low to the ground, sometimes less than three feet above it.
When hunting as a group, merlins have been spotted. A flock of birds will be expelled from hiding by one merlin, causing them to seek each other out. The second swooping in to make the kill. Most raptors hunt alone, so this behavior is very unusual. Open woodlands are favorite habitats for merlins, but they’re becoming more common in cities.
3. PEREGRINE FALCON
Scientific name: Falco peregrinus
Length: 14.2-19.3 in
Weight: 18.7-56.4 oz
Wingspan: 39.4-43.3 in
On their way to breeding and wintering areas, Peregrine Falcons pass through Georgia. They are only found in the spring and fall in most of the state. However, two Peregrine Falcon populations winter in Georgia, one smaller than the other. One is located in Atlanta, while the other is located in the state’s southeast corner. They may be discovered near cliff edges or skyscrapers in open places. When they’re hunting for prey, they like to perched in high places.
Peregrines may be found in abundance in Atlanta, as they are in other large cities. The city is filled with pigeons, which provide plenty of high ledges for them to perch on and hunt from. The skyscrapers provide a lot of food for them. Peregrines take to the air after spotting their prey from a perch. They attack in a steep dive after circling high above their target to gain altitude. Peregrines have evolved to city life incredibly well due to their strange hunting strategy and appetite for pigeons.