Peregrine Falcon

Ole 1.jpgOle- Ole, a peregrine falcon, was born in April of 2016 and came to the ABEF from Washington state shortly after. Ole was raised by humans to work as an educator and so develops unusual relationships with people. He will preen his trainers on occasion, grooming their hair and clothing with his beak.

Ole has met thousands of guests in his time as an educator, traveling to Skagway as well as the Yukon Territory for programs. During training sessions, Ole likes to sunbathe, stretching his wings out to warm himself in the sunlight. He also spends much of his day inspecting insects, birds, and guests who stop by his aviary.

To support his continued care and training, click this link to sponsor Ole.

Ole’s 2020 Sponsors: Debbie Loizzo, Rita Schoonmaker, Dee Dee Hart, Haines Area School’s 6th Grade Class

Lanner-Saker Falcon

IMG_2645Zilla- Zilla is a lanner-saker falcon hybrid. Lanner falcons are found in Africa, Southeast Europe and Asia. Saker falcons are found in Eastern Europe and across Asia. Zilla was hatched in 2002 and worked for several years as a falconry bird in Alabama. She was the first member of our avian ambassador team, joining us in early 2010. She enjoys flying long distances, catching quail pieces in the air and watching birds and insects fly by her home. Because Zilla is a bird catching specialist by nature, her favorite meals are quail and chicken- you can help us to provide these tasty meals for her by sponsoring Zilla.

 Zilla’s 2020 Sponsors: Haines Area School’s 7th Grade Class


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Learn more about peregrine falcons-

Identification: Peregrines are a large falcon with long, pointed wings and a long tapered tail. Females are noticeably larger than males. Juvenile peregrines are buff colored with dark streaking and checkered patterns on their underside. Adults are a slate-blue gray on the backside with a buff to tan colored underside and checkered wings underneath. All peregrines have dark “helmet” like coloring around their head. In Alaska, there are three subspecies of peregrine; tundra (F.p. tundrius), anatum (F.p. anatum) and Peale’s (F.p. pealei). The tundra subspecies is lighter than anatum or Peale’s in coloration and occupies the arctic tundra of the North Slope. The tundra subspecies is the most common across North America. In Alaska, anatum occupies rocky outcroppings and bluffs above river valleys. Peale’s is the darkest of the three, and lives in coastal regions in Alaska.

Hunting & Diet: Peregrines can get to high speeds in seconds due to their powerful and smooth wing beats. It is said their wings represent a cocked bow and arrow when in flight. They are able to reach speeds of 60 mph when flapping and speeds over 200 m.p.h. (242 has been fastest recorded) when stooping. The majority of a peregrine’s diet is small to medium sized birds. Because males are much smaller, they typically catch smaller ducks and song birds while the larger females will hunt larger shorebirds. A regular hunting method is to scout while perched and chase after passing birds. They will also soar high in the sky and when they spot prey, will stoop to catch it. Peregrines are known to ball their foot into a fist and punch the back of the prey’s neck, dislocating the cervical vertebrae.

Size: Males are between 14-16 inches in length with a wingspan between 37-39 inches and weighing between 1-1.5 pounds (454-680 grams). Females range between 16-20 inches in length and have a wingspan between 40-46 inches and weigh between 1.6-2.1 pounds (726-953 grams).

Habitat: Peregrines will nest in forest or open country. They are one of a few species of raptors that have adapted well to human habituation and will nest on tall buildings and bridges in cities where there are rock doves and gulls. They typically live in areas with cliffs and bluffs near rivers, oceans, lakes or bays.

Nesting & Breeding: To construct a nest, they will scrape a shallow hole for eggs on high ledges, cliffs or bluffs or building ledges in cities. Peregrines are known to reuse nests of other species if the nest is high enough in a tree. It is thought peregrines return to the same nesting site in consecutive generations. Sexual maturity occurs between two and three years old.  Between one and five eggs are laid with about a month incubation period before hatching.

Most Common Problems: Wing injuries from hitting power lines. The species was on the brink of extinction in North America due to pesticide poisoning, mainly DDT. Due to extensive captive breeding programs the peregrine was taken off the endangered species list in 1999. Peregrines are no longer a species of concern in North America.