If you ask anyone what the fastest animal on earth is, they’ll likely name the cheetah. While it’s true that the cheetah can outrun any land animal, it is no match for the feathered, winged creatures that dominate the skies.
Birds are the only members of the animal kingdom that can surpass a cheetah in speed. In fact, the peregrine falcon has got the large cat beat by a long shot. When it comes down to the fastest animal in the air, the peregrine falcon definitely deserves the title.
The peregrine typically cruises along at an average speed of 30 mph. It can hit nearly 70 mph when pursuing prey in level flight. But the bird’s most impressive feat is when it executes its hunting dives.
During their dives, peregrine falcons will soar high into the air. Then, they will plunge straight down, reaching speeds over 200 mph. That may not be as fast-moving as a bullet, but it is a match for the average NASCAR racer’s top speed.
This amazing bird of prey can be found on every continent except Antarctica. In North America, they inhabit areas from the Rocky Mountains all the way down to Mexico.
They also live along the west and east coasts. During the winter, they migrate south, spending the cooler months in Mexico, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean.
These falcons feast primarily on other birds, which they snatch right out of the sky. They eat a wide variety of birds, such as pigeons, ducks, and songbirds.
They’re even known for attacking avians as large as geese, loons, and cranes. Additionally, they will snack on a few small mammals, like bats, but will rarely feed on insects or carrion.
Peregrine falcons have interesting nesting habits. They dwell on cliff ledges that can be anywhere from 25 to 1,300 feet off the ground. Over the years, the range of their habitat has declined, forcing them to find suitable nesting locations in the cities. Window ledges on tall buildings, bridges, and other structures are all fair game for nesting grounds.