Yay! Another bird of prey! The fastest in fact!! A friend sent a picture of a bird in a tree today and asked what it it could be. The bird was almost certainly a falcon. Though I'm no ornithologist, I do enjoy birds, but have not even come close to studying them like Sophie Lucido Johnson (she's incredible, if you have time you should check out her work). Back to birds, they are adorable hoping around hunting for seeds and watching them fly makes me feel free... and falcons, the way they dive... incredible.
So how fast do falcons fly? When not hunting, they fly between 40-60 miles per hour. When they are diving in for prey however, that's a different story. The speed increases fourfold. Falcons have been clocked at over 240 miles per hour in their dives.
Speed studies have been conducted while skydiving with falcons. I watched a couple videos, one with a man jumping out of a hot air balloon (I know, sounds super fun right?!), and one where they jump from a plane. Using a speedometer to clock the speed of the falcon chasing down a lure.
A major feature attributed to the falcon's speed is the bird’s keel, a bone specialized for flight... a modified breastbone. A birds muscles it uses for flapping are attached to its keel. The peregrine falcon has a very large keel, allowing more muscle to be attached to it, and in turn, more flapping power to be generated.
The Peregrine Falcon’s pointed wings also help the bird reach its mind-boggling speeds. The wings are swept back and contributed to the bird’s streamlined figure. The curved wings create an air foil effect in multiple dimensions, maximizing maneuverability, lift, and speed. The feathers of the peregrine falcon also contribute to its high speeds. The feathers are slim and stiff, reducing the drag that can be caused by loose limp feathers.
The Peregrine Falcon is powerful and fast-flying, allowing them to hunt medium-sized birds, dropping down on them from high above at spectacular speeds. The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most widespread birds in the world, found on all continents except Antarctica, and on many oceanic islands.
I'm not sure what ranking a falcon would have on my bird list... but probably top 10. How about you?