The Prairie Falcon is a large, shy falcon. However, when hunting, this fierce desert and prairie predator is anything but shy. Its keen vision sweeps the ground for small rodents and the sky for birds. Unlike its cousin, the Peregrine, the Prairie Falcon prefers to outspeed and outmaneuver its prey, instead of super-speed power dives. The agility of this falcon is breathtaking as it is deadly.
The Prairie Falcon is large for a falcon, being 17-20 inches long. It is much like the Peregrine Falcon, but is paler and slimmer. It has a tan body, faintly barred white, with dark stripe below the eye. The head and undersides are off-white, marked with brown. In flight, the wings have noticeable dark patches underneath. The immatures are darker in the body and have heavy streaks on their undersides.
The Prairie Falcon is at home in the desert, unforested mounatin ranges, prairies, and canyons. It nests on bare cliff ledges or abandoned raven nests, and lays 3-6 white, brown spotted eggs. The eggs are incubated for 31-33 days, mostly by the female. In 3-6 weeks the nestlings can fly, and leave the nest.
Most of the food of the Prairie Falcon is birds (over 50%, in fact), the rest made up of mammals and occaisonally insects or reptiles.
The Prairie Falcon is found in south-western Canada, Western and Central United States, south to Baja California and southern Mexico. It has no conservational status and is popular with the falconers of the West.