Falcons In North Carolina – The 3 Species

North America and the rest of the globe are home to falcons. They aren’t as prevalent or as immediately recognized as other raptors, such as hawks and eagles. Falcons are small, swift birds that are fairly common, although there are just a few species of falcon. The falcons of North Carolina will be the focus of this article. Let’s take a look at some images of each species and learn some interesting facts in the process.


The American Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon are the only falcons found in North Carolina.


Scientific name: Falco sparverius

Length: 8.7-12.2 in

Weight: 2.8-5.8 oz

Wingspan: 20.1-24.0 in

Throughout North Carolina, you may see American Kestrels year-round. Although these birds do migrate, they don’t in the majority of their range. Kestrels prefer open areas, such as grasslands, where they can easily see their insect food.

They have thrived in metropolitan environments, and they may be found commonly in cities. When the sun is setting, take a look at the lights of the outdoor sporting event next time you’re there. The moths that congregate around them are not uncommon targets for a kestrel or two.

When Kestrels are hunting for prey, they may frequently be seen perched on fence posts or telephone wires, or street lights. The males have reddish-brown backs, slate grey wings, and white bellies with black stripes on their sides; you may identify them by these characteristics.

The bellies of females are creamier, and they lack the gray wings and heads. Kestrels are small, so you may easily distinguish them. In North America, they’re the tiniest raptors.


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 travel towards the coast in most of North Carolina. Their wintering grounds, however, are in the far eastern part of North Carolina. The east coast of the United States is home to a large number of Merlins. To the north and south, there are hills.

Merlin weigh about three times as much as the kestrel, despite being roughly the same size. They are considerably more muscular than kestrels. As a consequence, merlins are agile fliers that typically fly swiftly and low to the ground, sometimes less than three feet above it.

As a team, merlins have been seen hunting. A flock of birds will be flushed out of hiding by one merlin, forcing them to meet. The second swooping in to make the kill. Most raptors are solitary hunters, so this behavior is highly uncommon. Open woodlands are popular with merlins, but they’re becoming more common in cities.


Scientific name: Falco peregrinus

Length: 14.2-19.3 in

Weight: 18.7-56.4 oz

Wingspan: 39.4-43.3 in

Peregrine Falcons, like Merlin Falcons, are most often seen around the coast of North Carolina during the winter months and only move through the rest of the state. In Canada’s Arctic, Alaska, and Greenland, peregrine flies migrate far north to breed. But, Peregrine Falcons have breeding grounds in a few regions in the United States’ lower 48 states.

Peregrines thrive in Atlanta, as they do in other large cities. The city is abound with one of their favorite foods: pigeons, and the skyscrapers provide plenty of high ledges for them to perched on and hunt from. Peregrines take to the air after spotting their prey from their perch.

They attack in a steep dive after circling high above their target to gain altitude. Peregrines have adapted to city life remarkably well due to their unique hunting method and love of pigeons.

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