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Prairie Falcon

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Is the Prairie Falcon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: N/A

Scientific name: Falco mexicanus

The basics:
As a North American endemic, the Prairie Falcon was not a traditional falconry bird, but it has been tested by North American falconers for decades, and it is generally regarded to be a temperamental species not suitable for beginners.

The name Prairie Falcon is poorly chosen if it makes you think of a bird of the low, flat plains. This North American species prefers high grasslands, alpine meadows, and mountains, choosing habitat up to 10,000 feet in elevation. Like the Peregrine, it often breeds on very high cliffs.

Because of the licensing and expertise required to be a responsible owner of a bird of prey, the following information is offered only as a hint of what you will need to learn to work with these birds. There's no substitute for hands-on training, which we strongly recommend that you pursue before trying to acquire any bird of prey.

Appearance:
Roughly Peregrine Falcon sized, Prairie Falcons are a lighter brown with a narrow moustache mark. When standing underneath a flying bird, you may notice that the Peregrine's underwings seem uniformly dark, while the Prairie Falcon appears to be a lighter winged bird with dark “armpits.” Males are smaller than females.

Weight:
Males: 524 grams (18.5 oz.)
Females: 848 grams (30 oz.)

Average size:
Males: 30 centimeters (15 in.)
Females: 109 centimeters (17 in.)

Lifespan:
15 - 20 years

Behavior / temperament:
“Irascible” is the word often applied to the temperamental Prairie Falcon. While experienced falconers have certainly trained some talented birds, they warn that some individuals can be unpredictable.

Housing:
A good Prairie Falcon pen, aviary, or mews will provide shade from direct sunlight in the summer, protection from extremes of winter weather, and good security to lock out thieves. A roof that completely covers the structure is stronger and offers more protection from high winds than a partial roof. Don't shortchange them on space, since their long wings mean they really need space to stretch out. Like most birds of prey, they will enjoy some clean, shallow water for bathing.

Diet:
The Prairie Falcon is a carnivore that needs to consume some whole prey in order to allow its digestive system to work properly. The wild birds take large numbers of ground squirrels during the breeding season. When the ground squirrels are hibernating and out of reach, the versatile Prairie Falcon can switch to hunting birds on the wing. In captivity, they have bred on a diet based on easily obtained items like day old chicks and Coturnix quail. They should also be provided with water.

Written by Elaine Radford

wonderful

best aerial maneuvers, FUN BIRD

challenging

socialization, minimal safe places, training, myriad hazards, various falconry equipment

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