COMMON NAME: Prairie falcon
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Falco mexicanus
Much larger than either the American kestrel or merlin, prairie falcons are uniformly brown on the back and wings, with a pale head and streaked underside. The head has a "blocky" or crew-cut appearance and the eyes seem a little too large. In the field, prairie falcons can be recognized by their large typical falcon profile and lack of color.
Found only in western North America, Baja, and northern Mexico, the prairie falcon does not breed in Minnesota but can be seen here during spring and fall migration. An occasional sighting is reported around the Twin Cities area some winters.
Found in arid and semi-arid plains, this is a falcon of open country that nests on rock cliffs in river gorges and occasionally in timbered mountains. Nests are often scraped on ledges although old stick nests of ravens or others raptors will be used.
Prairie falcons feed on a variety of prey, including ground squirrels and prairie dogs, lizards, and birds, especially those that are ground dwelling. Immature birds eat large quantities of insects.
RAPTOR CENTER DATA:
Very few wild prairie falcons are admitted to the clinic, although falconers will send birds in to be treated.
Sometimes used in falconry, especially in the western states, prairie falcons have no special conservation status.