Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is suspected to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over 10 years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in 10 years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
Partners in Flight Science Committee (2020) estimate the population in the USA/ Canada to be c.72,000 individuals. The North African population is estimated to be 2,290-2,900 pairs (Garrido et al. in prep.). The European population is estimated at 16,100-31,100 pairs, which equates to 32,200-62,100 mature individuals (BirdLife International in prep.). Europe forms approximately 13% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 248,000-478,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. The population is therefore placed in the band 100,000-499,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The overall trend is suspected to be increasing following the ban on DDT in the 1970s. This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (2,600% increase over 40 years, equating to a 127% increase per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007). Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's range in North America. Data from COSEWIC (2017), which provides better coverage of northern populations than the Breeding Bird Survey or Christmas Bird Count, also suggests that there has been a significant large increase in this area (Partners In Flight 2021). In Europe the population size is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International in prep.). The population in the Arctic region is estimated to be stable (Franke et al. 2019). The overall trend in North Africa is thought to be stable, although there may be some local declines (Garrido et al. in prep.).


Behaviour Birds are highly migratory in the temperate and Arctic parts of its range, moving from North America to South America, Europe to Africa, and northern Asia to southern Asia and Indonesia. Those breeding at lower latitudes or in the Southern Hemisphere tend to be resident (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Migrating birds leave their breeding sites between August and November, and return between March and May (Snow and Perrins 1998). Migrants readily fly over expanses of sea and ocean. Most birds travel singly or in pairs, even on migration (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Habitat It inhabits an extreme variety of habitats, tolerating wet and dry, hot and cool climates, from sea level up to c.4,000 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet Birds make up most of its diet, principally pigeons and doves (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site Eggs are usually laid in a scrape or depression in a rock face, with no nest being built (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information Populations recovered following the ban of harmful hydrocarbons in most countries, which appears important to the birds’ survival (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


Historically, the species was affected by shooting in the U.K., notably during the Second World War (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Persecution throughout its range was the major threat in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Snow and Perrins 1998). While persecution has decreased significantly since the species received legal protection, illegal persecution still occurs in some areas, for example four Peregrines were confirmed illegally poisoned and nine shot, trapped, or nests destroyed in the UK in 2014 (RSPB 2014). Severe population declines in the 1960s-1970s were driven by eggshell breakage and mortality of adults and embryos from the hydrocarbon contamination associated with pesticides of that time (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, White et al. 2013). The species is used extensively in falconry, although the population-level impacts of this are uncertain (White et al. 2013). Rock climbing activities may pose a threat to the species's nest sites (Global Raptor Information Network 2015), and careless methods of field study may result in abandonment of eggs (White et al. 2020). In its West African range, the species may be vulnerable to habitat degradation through wood harvesting, overgrazing and burning as well as exposure to pesticides (Thiollay 2007). In North Africa, the main threat to the species is illegal trapping and collection of nestlings for use in falconry (Garrido et al. in prep). It is highly vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development (Strix 2012), and collision or electrocution from electricity cables may be common in some areas (White et al. 2020). An oil spill in northern Spain was thought to have reduced reproductive success and caused adult mortality in the local population (Zuberogoitia et al. 2006). Urban fledglings are at threat from collisions with cars, windows and other man-made objects (White et al. 2020). Warming of sea temperatures may reduce plankton and associated seabirds that serve as a food source for some populations of Peregrine Falcons (Nelson & Myres 1976).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I, CMS Appendix II, Raptor MOU Category 3, EU Birds Directive Annex I. Systematic breeding schemes are in place in at least 21 European countries (Derlink et al. 2018). The tree-nesting population in central and eastern Europe declined from c. 4,000 pairs to extirpation, before restoration efforts in Germany and Poland returned it to c. 20 pairs. Significant further efforts are needed to fully restore it across its former range, which included Germany, Poland, Russia, Belarus and the Baltic States (European Peregrine Falcon Working Group in litt. 2007). Regional recovery plans introduced under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 included captive rearing and release of birds throughout North America - by 1998, nearly 7,000 Peregrines had been released (White et al. 2020).

Conservation Actions Needed
Protection of habitats (particularly nesting habitats), monitoring of population trends and productivity, sustained yield use for falconry (White et al. 2020).  


Text account compilers
Haskell, L.

Symes, A., Khwaja, N., Taylor, J., Harding, M., Ashpole, J, Ekstrom, J. & Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Falco peregrinus. Downloaded from on 01/03/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/03/2024.