In the article “Species of Falcons Found in Arizona,” readers will discover the five different species of falcons that call Arizona their home. From the North America’s smallest falcon, the American Kestrel, to the Peregrine Falcon, known as the fastest bird in the world, the article provides information about each species’ appearance, habitat, and hunting habits. With stunning pictures and interesting facts, this article is a must-read for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Species of Falcons Found in Arizona
When it comes to falcons in Arizona, there are five different species that can be found. In this article, we will take a closer look at each of these amazing birds and learn some interesting facts about them, including where and when they can be spotted, their physical descriptions, and their feeding habits.
Arizona, located in the southwest region of the United States near the Mexico border, is moderately sized with an area of almost 114,000 square miles. Being in close proximity to Mexico, Arizona is right in the migratory path of many different species of birds, including falcons. Falcons, which belong to the family Falconidae, are birds of prey that have some unique characteristics that differentiate them from other raptors such as eagles, kites, and hawks. One notable difference is that falcons use their beaks rather than their talons to kill their prey.
There are over 60 species of falcons in the world, with six of those species residing in the United States. Out of these six species, five can be found in the state of Arizona. Let’s take a closer look at each of these species.
- Length: 8.7-12.2 in
- Weight: 2.8-5.8 oz
- Wingspan: 20.1-24.0 in
The American Kestrel is North America’s smallest falcon. Despite its small size, it is a fierce predator that can take down birds larger than itself, such as Northern Flickers. The American Kestrel primarily feeds on insects and invertebrates, but it also consumes small mammals and other birds. This species can be found throughout Arizona all year round. However, some kestrels that live further south may migrate north to breed.
The American Kestrel has distinctive markings, especially on the males with their blue wings and brown spots. Both males and females have dark vertical stripes on their heads, making them quite visually striking. Look for them in the summer when they are most active on fence posts and telephone wires, especially in rural areas.
- Length: 9.4-11.8 in
- Weight: 5.6-8.5 oz
- Wingspan: 20.9-26.8 in
Merlins are another small falcon species found in Arizona. They can be spotted throughout the state during the winter and non-breeding season. However, they are migratory birds and fly north to Canada to breed every year. Merlins primarily prey on other birds and are known for their hunting skills when hunting in pairs. They are slightly larger than American Kestrels, with females being larger than males.
Merlins are widespread raptors and can be found in various regions of North America. Their population was declining in the early 20th century, but they have since made a recovery and are now listed as a species of low concern. Merlins are usually in flight, stalking sparrows and other small birds, making them challenging to spot. When they are not flying, they can be found perched high in the treetops, contemplating their next meal. Keep an eye out for them near forest edges and on low perches in open grasslands.
- Length: 14.2-19.3 in
- Weight: 18.7-56.4 oz
- Wingspan: 39.4-43.3 in
Peregrine Falcons and their unique range can be seen in most of Arizona throughout the year. However, most Peregrines in the United States migrate to arctic regions of Canada and even Greenland to breed each year. At one point in the mid-20th century, their population was severely impacted by pesticides. However, they have made a remarkable comeback and are now regularly seen in the wild.
Peregrine Falcons are not only the fastest birds but also the fastest animals on the planet, reaching speeds of well over 200 mph when diving for prey. Some sources even claim speeds up to 240 mph. They can be found in various National Parks across the United States, including the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Acadia, Rocky Mountain, and Zion. There are currently an estimated 23,000 Peregrine Falcons residing in the United States.
- Length: 14.6-18.5 in
- Weight: 14.8-38.8 oz
- Wingspan: 35.4-44.5 in
Prairie Falcons are known to prefer wide-open spaces such as grasslands and fields, where they soar high overhead in search of their next meal, which is usually small mammals or other birds. They can be found throughout Arizona and the western half of the United States.
Similar to Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons are popular birds for falconry and hunting. They can be spotted soaring overhead with the help of binoculars, or even perched along fence posts or on cliffs. Their brown colors sometimes make them difficult to spot as they blend in with their surroundings. Prairie Falcons are larger than Merlins but slightly smaller than Peregrine Falcons.
- Length: 19.3-22.8 in
- Weight: 37.0-45.9 oz
- Wingspan: 48.0-49.2 in
The Crested Caracara is quite distinct in appearance compared to the other falcon species found in Arizona. While it is most commonly found in Central America, it can be seen in a few scattered areas of the Southern United States. In Arizona, the Crested Caracara is primarily found in the far southern regions of the state, south of Tucson.
The Crested Caracara resembles a combination of a hawk and a vulture, with its large, sharp talons and orange face. It is slightly larger than Peregrine Falcons in size. Crested Caracaras are omnivores but are thought to mainly feed on carrion. They are commonly found perched high up on tree branches, although they can also be seen on the ground, often feeding on roadkill and other deceased animals. This behavior explains their vulture-like appearance.
In conclusion, Arizona is home to a diverse range of falcon species. From the small but mighty American Kestrel to the majestic and fast-flying Peregrine Falcon, each species brings its own unique traits and characteristics. Whether you are an avid bird watcher or simply appreciate the beauty of these remarkable birds of prey, Arizona offers numerous opportunities to observe and appreciate these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.