The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Peregrine Biology:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Click on the links below to go directly to particular topics, or scroll down through the page to read through all of the questions and answers.  Unfortunately we haven't had nearly as much time to develop this section as hoped, but we will continue to try to add material over time - in the meantime, check the main biology info menu for access to the information you may be looking for.   If you have suggestions for questions that should be addressed here, please email them to us.  

Info on Scotty age -- background -- role with CPF -- diet -- flight -- size -- future  
Info on Qetesh age -- background -- role with CPF -- diet -- flight -- size -- future  
Abilities intelligence 
Anatomy feathers -- bones -- eyes -- ears -- feet
Behaviour flight -- head-bobbing -- vocalizing
Conservation DDT -- population decline -- population recovery
Diet preferred prey -- hunting strategies -- hunting success
Distribution Ontario -- Canada -- North America -- World
Habitat natural -- urban
Human interactions attacks -- education -- falconry -- handling
Identification peregrine features -- similar species
Migration when -- where -- why -- how
Nesting courtship -- nest location -- timing
Reproduction eggs -- chicks -- fledglings -- juveniles

INFORMATION ON SCOTTY:
Age:
How old is Scotty?
Scotty hatched in April 1999, which means that he is now close to 2 years old.

Background:
Where did Scotty hatch?
Scotty hatched in captivity at a breeding facility in southern Ontario.

Why is Scotty with the Canadian Peregrine Foundation?
Scotty is imprinted on humans.  In other words, he doesn't realize that he is a peregrine falcon, and believes that he is a human instead.  A few days after chicks hatch, their eyes begin to focus on their surroundings, and it is around this time that they imprint on their parents.  If the bird's natural parents are unable to care for it (as was the case with Scotty), the chick will imprint on whatever is feeding and caring for it (often humans).  Unfortunately, human imprinted birds rarely are successful when released to the wild because they are unable to fend for themselves, so they are generally kept in captivity.

When did Scotty join the Canadian Peregrine Foundation?
Scotty joined the CPF Education Team in January 2000 when he was only 9 months old.

How did he get his name?
Scotty is a peregrine of the Scottish subspecies.

Role with CPF:
What does CPF do with Scotty?
Scotty is one of CPF's most valuable ambassadors.  He is a vital part of our Education Program, having given  thousands of children at over 80 southern Ontario schools a rare chance to view an endangered species at close  range.  Scotty also visits many of the Foundation's sponsors to provide them with an opportunity for an intimate experience with the species they are helping us to save.

Diet:
What does Scotty eat?
Like any other peregrine falcon, Scotty eats birds.  But because he is kept in captivity and doesn't hunt for himself, he gets his food already dead.  His favourite food is quail, but he also gets day-old chicks from time to time.

How much does Scotty eat every day?
Scotty is normally given one quail per day, and depending on how hungry he is, he may eat just a few tender parts, or practically the whole bird.  This means that he eats as much as one-quarter of his own body weight per day.

When does Scotty get fed?
Scotty normally has his daily meal in the late afternoon or evening.

Flight:
Can Scotty fly?  Are his wings clipped?
Scotty's wings are fully intact, and he can fly without any problems.  

Why isn't Scotty allowed to fly during school visits?
Sometimes while we are visiting a class with Scotty, he will try to fly off our glove.  However, we always hold on to him tightly to make sure he doesn't get away.  This is for the safety of both Scotty and the students.  If he were to take off, there would be a lot of motion and noise from the students, and this might scare Scotty, which in turn might cause him to panic and possibly hurt himself.    

Size:
How big is Scotty?
Scotty is slightly smaller than a crow, roughly 40-45 cm from beak to tail.

Will Scotty grow any bigger?
No, this is as large as he will ever be.  Most birds, including peregrine falcons, are almost or entirely fully grown by the time they begin to fly.  In the case of peregrines, this means that they have reached their full size when they are only five or six weeks old. 

What is Scotty's wingspan?
Scotty's wingspan is roughly 75-80 cm (2-1/2 feet), which is typical for a male peregrine.

Future:
Will Scotty ever be used for breeding?
Currently Scotty is on long-term loan to the Canadian Peregrine Foundation from the Great Lakes Raptor Conservancy.  Once he is fully mature, it's possible that he may take part in a breeding program for part of the year.

INFORMATION ON QETESH:
Age:
How old is Qetesh?
Qetesh hatched in April 1991, so we will soon be celebrating her tenth birthday.

Background:
Where did Qetesh hatch?
Qetesh hatched at the Canadian Wildlife Service's breeding facility in Wainwright, Alberta.

Who were her parents?
We don't have a record of exactly who Qetesh's parents were, but we do know that they were both pure anatum
peregrine falcons.

Where did Qetesh grow up?
Qetesh was raised at Wainwright, and since there was still a need for additional peregrines in the government breeding program, she was kept there and joined the program when she reached maturity.  She remained at Wainwright for 6 years.

Why is Qetesh with the Canadian Peregrine Foundation?
The Wainwright breeding facility closed in 1997, and all of the peregrines which resided there at the time were acquired by private breeders across Canada.  Qetesh was among the peregrines who ended up in Ontario.  She stayed with the Great Lakes Raptor Conservancy for a couple of years, but showed no interest in breeding.  As a
result, the Great Lakes Raptor Conservancy donated Qetesh to the Canadian Peregrine Foundation for use as an educational bird.

When did Qetesh join the Canadian Peregrine Foundation?
Qetesh became the first feathered member of the CPF Education Team in March 1999.

How did Qetesh get her name?
When Qetesh arrived at the Canadian Peregrine Foundation she had no name.  She has a very regal stature, so it was decided that she should be named Qetesh after the Egyptian goddess of nature, who was often portrayed as a falcon.

Role with CPF:
What does CPF do with Qetesh?
Qetesh spends a lot of time visiting children across Ontario as part of the CPF Education Program.  She has been to over 70 schools, and has probably seen more than ten thousand students during this time.  She is always very relaxed and seem to enjoy the attention.  Qetesh has also played an important role as the Foundation's ambassador for media appearances and fundraising meetings and events.

Diet:
What does Qetesh eat?
Like any other peregrine falcon, Qetesh eats birds.  But because she is kept in captivity and doesn't hunt for herself, she gets her food already dead.  Her favourite food is quail, but she also gets day-old chicks from time to time.

How much does Qetesh eat every day?
Qetesh is normally given one quail per day.  If she's not too hungry, she may just nibble at it, but if she has built up a good appetite, she will eat the entire bird, including the head and feet!  This means that she is eating as much as one-fifth of her own body weight each day.

When does Qetesh get fed?
Qetesh normally has her daily meal in the late afternoon or evening.

Flight:
Can Qetesh fly?  Are his wings clipped?
Her wings are not clipped, and though she doesn't fly very often, she is remarkably strong in flight when she gets the opportunity.

Why isn't Qetesh allowed to fly during school visits?
Because Qetesh came from a breeding program, she never received flight training.  This means that if we were to release her in a class, she would fly off, but would not necessarily come back, which could of course be a problem in itself.  But there's also a risk that she could hurt herself if she panicked in unfamiliar surroundings, especially if there was any sudden noise or motion by the students while she was flying.    

Size:
How big is Qetesh?
Qetesh is a bit larger than a crow, roughly 50 cm from beak to tail.

What is Qetesh's wingspan?
Qetesh has a wingspan of roughly 90 cm (3 feet), which is typical for a female peregrine.

Future:
Will Qetesh be staying with the Canadian Peregrine Foundation?
Yes.  Although she is a pure anatum peregrine and would be valuable to breeding programs, she is getting old and is no longer interested in raising families.  She will remain an important part of the CPF Education Program. 

ABILITIES:
Intelligence:
How smart are peregrines?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

How large is a peregrine's brain?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

ANATOMY:
Feathers:
How many feathers does a peregrine have?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Do peregrines ever pull their feathers out?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Bones:
Are a bird's bones really hollow?
Yes, in most birds the majority of bones are hollow.  This is an important adaptation of flying birds, as it greatly reduces their weight, and therefore minimizes the energy they need to expend to stay in the air.

How strong are a bird's bones?
Despite being hollow, the bones of birds are actually remarkably strong.  This is large part due to their internal structure, which in many bones has extensive cross-bracing for strength.  We have seen some remarkably forceful collisions by peregrines with buildings which have not resulted in broken bones.

Which bones are most likely to break?
The most commonly reported fractures in peregrines are of the wing bones.  This is not to say necessarily that those are the weakest bones, but they are the ones that normally take the bulk of the impact when a peregrine collides with a building or other obstacle.  Occasionally broken legs are encountered too.

Eyes:

Ears:
Do peregrines have ears?  Where are they?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

How good is a peregrine's hearing?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Feet:

BEHAVIOUR:
Flight:
How does a bird flap its wings?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

How do birds fly?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

How does the shape of the wings affect the way a bird flies?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

How high can a peregrine fly?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Head-bobbing:
Why do peregrines sometimes bob their heads up and down?
This often happens when the peregrine has spotted something of interest - whether potential prey, enemies, or otherwise.  By bobbing its head, the peregrine is able to get a more accurate three-dimensional picture of exactly what it is looking at, and precisely where it is.

Vocalizing:

CONSERVATION:
DDT:

Population decline:

Population recovery:

DIET:
Preferred prey:
What does a wild peregrine falcon usually eat?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Do females and males hunt the same prey?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

What are the most unusual prey species for peregrines?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Hunting strategies:
How do peregrines hunt?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

What does a peregrine hit its prey with?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

How much weight can a peregrine carry?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Hunting success:
How often do peregrines hunt?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

What is the success rate of hunting peregrines?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

DISTRIBUTION:
Ontario:

Canada:

North America:

Rest of the world:

HABITAT:
Natural:

Urban:

HUMAN INTERACTIONS:
Attacks:

Education:

Falconry:

Handling:
Does it hurt Scotty/Qetesh when they try to fly but can't?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Can humans understand what peregrines are saying?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Does Scotty/Qetesh like being touched?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

Can captive peregrines be taught to do tricks?
Answer in preparation - please check back soon for full details.

IDENTIFICATION:
Physical features:

Similar species:

MIGRATION:
When:

Where:

Why:

How:

NESTING:
Courtship:

Nest location:

Timing:

REPRODUCTION:
Eggs:

Chicks:

Fledglings:

Juveniles:


QUESTIONS CURRENTLY BEING RESEARCHED:
        How many bones does a peregrine have?

        What defines a raptor?  (Why are kingfishers, herons, crows, etc. not raptors?)
        


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