Falcons have bigger wings and are optimized for speed when compared to hawks. Unlike falcons, hawks do not kill their prey with their beaks, but with their talons. The three falcon species found in Illinois will be discussed in this article. We’ll learn about where and when each species may be found in the state of Illinois, in addition to images and some fascinating facts about them.
3 SPECIES OF FALCONS IN ILLINOIS
The American Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon are the three falcon species present in Illinois.
The Prairie Falcon may be found to the west of Illinois, while the Gyrfalcon may be found to the north, despite some uncommon sightings. As a result, they are not included on this list.
1. AMERICAN KESTREL
Length: 8.7-12.2 in
Weight: 2.8-5.8 oz
Wingspan: 20.1-24.0 in
Don’t let the fact that the American Kestrel is North America’s smallest falcon deceive you. Kestrels, like Northern Flickers, are strong hunters that may kill other birds bigger or bigger than themselves. Insects and invertebrates are the main sources of food for these animals, but they will also consume small mammals and birds. While some kestrels that reside farther south may migrate north to breed, they can be found across Illinois all year.
The males with their blue wings and brown markings are particularly stunning, as are these little falcons with their small heads and beaks. These birds are very attractive and have black vertical stripes on their heads in both male and female versions. When they’re active, look for them on fence posts and phone lines when driving, especially in the country or rural areas, during the summer.
Length: 9.4-11.8 in
Weight: 5.6-8.5 oz
Wingspan: 20.9-26.8 in
Another tiny falcon in Illinois is the merlin, which can only be seen during migration seasons. Each year, these migratory birds breed in Canada, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. They are recognized for hunting in pairs, allowing them to be exceedingly successful hunters. Their major food source is other birds. Females are bigger than males, just like with kestrels, and Merlins are somewhat bigger than kestrels.
Merlin are a common raptor that may be seen in almost every part of North America in some form. Their population was declining in the early twentieth century, but they have since rebounded to a low concern status. Merlins are difficult to see since they’re usually hunting sparrows and other little birds. They’re perched high in the treetops, thinking about their next meal, when they’re not flying. In open grasslands, keep an eye out near forest borders and low perches.
3. PEREGRINE FALCON
Length: 14.2-19.3 in
Weight: 18.7-56.4 oz
Wingspan: 39.4-43.3 in
The state of Illinois is home to Peregrine Falcons, who migrate. Peregrines from Canada and even Greenland travel to the far north each year to breed, with the majority of North American Peregrines doing so. Yet, in the lower 48 states, there are certain locations where both year-round and breeding peregrines may be found.
Due to insecticides, their population was almost wiped out in the mid-twentieth century, but they have now made a recovery and are frequently seen in the wild.
When diving for prey, Peregrines are not only the fastest bird on the planet, but also the fastest animal on the planet. Up to 240 mph is said to be attainable. The Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Acadia, Rocky Mountain, and Zion are just a few of the National Parks where they may be found. In the United States, there are now 23,000 Peregrine Falcons.