The ultimate speed king on the planet, with no competitors on land, water or the air, is the peregrine falcon. This superbird achieves an unbelievable speed of 321 km/h during its famous downward ‘stoop’ (dive) to catch prey.

This large-sized falcon has a blue-grey back, barred underparts and a black head. It hunts birds like pigeons, ducks, songbirds and gulls.

It has special tubercles in its nostrils to guide the air and prevent damage to its lungs during a dive. Its vision is 8 times better than a human’s and it has a third eyelid to protect its eyes during those super-fast dives. It swoops down in a curve to decrease drag and strikes its prey mid-flight, knocking it out!

The word peregrine means wanderer or pilgrim. These birds may fly around 30,000 kilometres every year from Europe to Africa during winter.

The peregrine falcon has faced many unforeseen threats over the years. One of the birds it likes to hunt is the pigeon. However, during the First World War thousands of peregrines were killed because they were a threat to messenger pigeons carrying important military messages to and fro.

A large number also perished due to the rampant use of the pesticide DDT, which entered their systems through food. This pesticide made peregrine eggs brittle and a huge number of eggs broke, depleting their numbers drastically. After many countries banned the use of DDT, population figures have been picking up. They are currently listed under ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN List.

Picture Credit : Google

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