Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus Tunstall, 1771

Order Falconiformes

Family Falconidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Endangered EN [C2ai], BDA-II, III; International: BD-I.

General distribution. A cosmopolitan species. It breeds in rocky territories: rarely in human settlements and forest regions in Europe. More frequently observed and numerous in Southern Europe, with the highest numbers in Spain [3].

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. Resident. The birds breeding in the height zone (at altitudes of over 1 000 m), perform vertical migrations. In the middle of the 20th century it was extremely rare [1, 7]. Later it was found breeding in separate isolated rocky regions of the country [9], in numbers not higher than 10 pairs [5]. It has not been registered during multiplication in many appropriate areas of Northeastern Bulgaria [2]. For the 1970 1991 period, its numbers were 20-25 breeding pairs [12]; other sources point out 30-60 [4], 160-200 [6] and 80-130 [10] pairs. The numbers of the breeding pairs increased from the 1990s to 2006 [2]. At present its numbers amount to about 200 breeding pairs, with a tendency for an increase.

Habitats. Rocky areas gorges, singular vertical rocks; very rarely in human settlements. It is rare or entirely absent during breeding in the Alpine zone.

Biology. It breeds along rock cornices, niches and platforms of vertical rocks. It also uses old nests of ravens, golden eagles, long-legged buzzards, etc. Although rarely, it also breeds on high buildings in human settlements or in their vicinity [13, personal data]. In the autumn and winter it enters human settlements more frequently while hunting [14]. The courting period starts in March-April. The female ususllay lays 3-4 eggs [13], in most cases directly on the substrate. Incubation continues for 29-30 days. The young ones remain in the nest for about 45 days [1]. Ornithophagous.

Similar species. None.

Negative factors. Collection of eggs and young birds from the nests. Disturbance during breeding. Illegal shooting. Persecution by dove-breeders and farmers.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985). About 30% of the breeding habitats are situated in national and natural parks and some reserves.

Conservation measures needed. Imposition of a complete ban on the breeding of predatory birds by private persons and also by organizations for commercial purposes. Addressing the problems of falcon trade and the killing of birds by dove-breeders. Guarding risk nests. Introduction on prohibiting or restricting regimes in some regions, in the practicing of rock climbing during the multiplication period. A compensation programme for damages inflicted on domestic birds.

References. 1. Arabadzhiev, 1962; 2. Birdlife Bulgaria, in press; 3. Ilichev, Miheev, 1986 4. Kostadinova, 1997; 5. Michev, 1982; 6. Nankinov et al., 2004; 7. Patev, 1950; 8. Simeonov, 1985; 9. Simeonov et al., 1990; 10. Birdlife, 2004; 11. Howard, Moore 1980; 12. Petrov et al., 1995; 13. Ragyov et al., in press; 14. Stoyanov et al., 2004.

Authors: Georgi P. Stoyanov, Borislav Borisov, Anton Antonov, Dobromir Domuschiev, Tseno Petrov

Peregrine Falcon (distribution map)

Peregrine Falcon (drawing)