KEY SPECIES

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

PERE­GRINE This mag­nif­i­cent rap­tor, the fastest an­i­mal on the planet and the ul­ti­mate king of ur­ban­ity, is one of the big­gest con­ser­va­tion suc­cess sto­ries of re­cent times. From lit­er­ally be­ing on its knees, in terms of pop­u­la­tion, due to re­lent­less per­se­cu­tion and, lat­terly, DDT poi­son­ing, it has dis­cov­ered ur­ban life with its ar­ti­fi­cial cliffs and abun­dant food sup­plies. And it is thriv­ing, with in ex­cess of 1,500 pairs na­tion­wide. Cru­cially, a Pere­grine is less likely to be killed within ur­ban ar­eas, al­though this pos­si­bil­ity greatly in­creases once it flies be­yond the city lim­its. Pere­grines have a near world­wide dis­tri­bu­tion apart from Antarc­tica and, strangely, New Zealand. Some races are quite dark while oth­ers like tun­drius from the tun­dras and arc­tic is­lands of North Amer­ica and Green­land are al­to­gether paler and the ju­ve­niles have a beau­ti­ful buff edg­ing to their plumage.

The size dif­fer­ence be­tween the sexes can be quite re­mark­able when the birds are viewed to­gether. The fe­male can weigh 60% more than the male, which is also known as the tier­cel, from the French la tierce (a third), as he is a third smaller.

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