This is one of the most exciting birds in the world. A big falcon it is a glorious, fast and skilled predator almost exclusively feeding on other birds - including those that are much larger than itself. The dark slate blue back and black head and moustachial contrast with the buff streaked underparts.
The sizes of the birds vary a lot as there are races in all continents save the Antarctic. Northern populations are migratory. The males are much smaller than females - by more than 10% in size and almost half in weight.
This is the species worst affected by DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons but the birds have recovered well in Britain but not so well elsewhere. The British population is now at its highest level ever and the survey of 1991 showed 1283 occupied territories.
A fantastic falcon.
Length 420 mm Closed wing 330 mm Weight 900 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead