California Raptor Center

Prairie Falcon

Scientific Name: Falco mexicanus
(Falco is Latin for falcon, mexicanus indicates where the first specimen was collected).

Size: Length: 14-18in Wingspan: 36-44in        

Weight: Female: 801g (average) (1.8lb) Male: 496g (average) (1.1lb)

Lifespan: They can be expected to live for 3 years in the wild and 20 in captivity.

ID: Adults and juveniles are very similar in coloration: both have light chests, long white stripes along their wings, black patches right next to their chests on their wings, light heads, and light brown “Elvis sideburns” right below their eyes. However, adults have lighter backs than the juveniles, and the juveniles have more defined stripes along their chests, while adults just have random spots.

Hunting: They hunt from high perches, or from flight.

Prey: Their preferred food source is small mammals and ground-dwelling birds. They will also eat lizards and insects.

Breeding: Like other falcons, the Prairie Falcon does not build nests, but depend on cliff cavities instead. Clutches have 3 to 6 eggs and take about 34 days to hatch. After that, it takes the chicks 5 to 6 weeks to become fully independent.

Range: Prairie Falcons are non to partial migrators. They can be found in most of the Western continental United States.

Status: Prairie Falcons are listed as a federal 'of conservation concern' species, and a California bird species of special concern in 2003 (draft), as well as being protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.