Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered

previous  | next

Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus


enlarge +

Prairie Falcon
credit: USGS

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

All Images


Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Family: Falconidae, Falcons view all from this family

Description ADULT Has sandy brown upperparts, including nape and crown. Head has pale supercilium, cheek, and throat, with dark eyestripe and "mustache." Underparts are pale, with dark streak on breast and belly, particularly intense on flanks. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but darker and more heavily patterned.

Dimensions Length: 17-20" (43-51 cm); Wngspn: 3' 6" (1.1 m)

Habitat Widespread, but scarce in open, grassy habitats. Mostly resident, but some dispersal in winter.

Observation Tips Least tricky to find in winter.

Range Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, Northwest, Texas, Plains, Southwest, California, Western Canada

Voice Utters a loud kek-kek-kek- call.

Discussion Large, stocky falcon. Confusion with juvenile Peregrine is possible, but Prairie is paler overall, with less contrast on head; note pale behind eye. In flight, from below, Prairie looks very pale (especially tail), except for dark bar on outer coverts and axillaries (juvenile Peregrine is uniformly barred and streaked gray below, palest on throat and vent). Typically hunts at low levels for small mammals and birds (Peregrine usually dives from a great height). Sexes are similar.