3 Different Species of Falcons in North Carolina (NC)

Falcons are located all over North America and around the world. They are not as abundant or as identified easily as some other raptors, such as hawks or eagles.

Falcons are slimmer, quicker birds, and while they are reasonably numerous, there are only a few kinds of falcons. This essay will concentrate on falcons across North Carolina.

Let’s have a look at certain images of each type and discover some interesting information about them.

Peregrine FalconPeregrine Falcon
American KestrelAmerican Kestrel

Different Species of Falcons in North Carolina

1. Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcons may be seen across North Carolina and are present across every continent apart from Antarctica because they like to nest on the tops of towering structures.

These falcons are commonly seen in cities, where they may become popular superstars!


Individual birds and sexes have minor color differences. The backs of both females and males are bluish-black or slate grey with slight striping.

Their breast is white to brown, having small black lines running across them. Immature birds are frequently darker in color than adults.

Females are bigger than males in virtually all falcon breeds.

Peregrine Falcons hold the title of FASTEST creature on the entire planet!

Scientific name Falco peregrinus
Weight 18.7 to 56.4 ounces
Length 14.2 to 19.3 inches
Wingspan 39.4 to 43.3 inches

Don’t believe the myth that the cheetah seems to be the quickest animal. Sure, they can get it up to 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour), which is incredible for being on the land.

Whenever a Peregrine Falcon dives, it may travel at speeds of 320 kilometers per hour (200 miles per hour)! And because it begins its voyage at 3,000 feet, it can cruise at these incredible velocities for a long time.

The lungs of these falcons might swell and explode at incredible speeds. However, as they have a bony protrusion in their snout, it disturbs airflow in the same way as the domed shape on the front of a fighter jet does. Nature never fails to surprise me!


Peregrine Falcons consume mostly other birds. In fact, around 450 distinct bird species have been reported as their prey. They are not choosy and will eat practically everything, especially pigeons, songbirds, ducks, and gulls.

Individuals as little as a hummingbird and as huge as a Sandhill Crane have been killed by these predators. These birds of prey frequently pursue bats even when they’re not hunting birds.

Except as an alarm cry near its breeding location, you won’t be hearing a Peregrine Falcon making any sound. It sounds like “kack-kack-kack-kack-kack.

2. American Kestrel

American kestrels

The American Kestrel is about the size of an American Robin and is North Carolina’s tiniest falcon. But don’t be fooled by its small appearance; this falcon is really a skilled predator.

You might have been aware of the Sparrow Hawk, another name for a kestrel. They were given this title because they will catch sparrows and other hummingbirds out of the sky!

American Kestrels are by far the most abundant and ubiquitous falcons on the continent, and they are plentiful across North Carolina.

Scientific name Falco sparverius
Weight 2.8 to 5.8 ounces
Length 8.7 to 12.2 inches
Wingspan 20.1 to 24.0 inches


One of their preferred hunting techniques is to hover in the air from such a low altitude, seeking insects, birds, bugs, and tiny rodents.

Due to their diversified food, they might retain ecological niches from middle Alaska to the southernmost southern coast. Life can be difficult for the tiniest falcon because they are occasionally devoured as food by bigger raptors, corn snakes, and rat snakes!

Male and female American Kestrels appear distinct from many other falcons!

Kestrels have a characteristic cry that sounds very similar to “klee, klee, klee” or “killy, killy, killy,” and it is frequently repeated quickly. 

The American Kestrel is at ease among humans and will frequently use man-made nesting boxes to feed their babies. Their populations have now been slowly dwindling, thus, any assistance we can provide is greatly appreciated.

They may be located in a range of settings, such as playgrounds, pastures, meadows, grasslands, deserts, and valleys, as long as there are at minimum a few trees nearby.

3. Merlin


Merlins are tiny, aggressive falcons found throughout North Carolina. Having said that, these are uncommon to see and unexpected in terms of their distribution.


They have a bulkier physique than that of the American Kestrel, strongly curved wings, and a medium-length tail.

Male Merlins get a streaky black to silver-grey body and wings, as well as a slightly orange (light-colored) breast. Their color, however, varies according to their unique range and whether they are female or male. Females are paler than males, having a brown-grey to dark brown back and then a white front with brown spots beneath.

In North Carolina, Merlins may be seen practically anywhere.


The precise environment they employ is somewhat dependent on where you reside. All types of environments are acceptable, including coastal regions, grasslands, playgrounds, prairies, cemeteries, boreal forests, shrublands, and locations near rivers.

To make matters more complicated, these raptors travel and shift about. Most Merlins go south as the weather turns cold, but there are some spots in the state where you may watch them throughout the year.

Scientific name Falco columbarius
Length 9.4 to 11.8 inches
Weight 5.6 to 8.5 ounces
Wingspan 20.9 to 26.8 inches

A Merlin could always be identified by its quick wings flapping and diminutive size. Despite its relatively small stature, this falcon is a ferocious predator that employs surprise strikes to take down its prey.

It is so daring that it’s been observed assaulting trains and automobiles that enter its domain. The Merlin is a bird you would not want to offend or scare!

While most of the time they are silent, it is normal to hear a high, loud cackling that sounds like “klee, klee, klee.” These cries are often made throughout courting or when displaying hostility.

To grab prey, Merlins depend on their speed and strength!


Mated partners have been observed working together, with one pushing prey directly into the talons of the other. Merlins, like other falcons, consume a wide range of prey, such as dragonflies, moths, bats, voles, and reptiles.

However, smaller birds are the main source of nourishment. Sparrows, sandpipers, larks, pipits, and even comparably sized rock pigeons are all OK.

Like some other falcons, Merlins do not make their personal nests but rather reuse the vacant houses of other birds. Crow, jay, hawk, and magpie nests are among their preferences.

They also seldom retain the same nests, preferring to find a new one each mating season.

Check out this article on Types of Falcons in Pennsylvania and Birds of Prey in North Carolina.


Falcons are magnificent birds of prey noted for their agility and remarkable hunting ability. No one on the earth, for instance, is quicker than a Peregrine Falcon diving for food.

These amazing raptors have been reported flying at rates of up to 200 miles per hour (320 km/h)!

I’ve included a couple of images for each type, as well as their most typical calls, to assist you in recognizing any birds you happen to see.

Fortunately for you, regardless of where you reside in North Carolina, there must be at least a couple of falcon species around!


Are falcons found in various regions of North Carolina?

Whereas the Peregrine Falcon has now been taken off the list from the Federal Endangered Species list resulting in excessive rises in the species’ western North American territory, it would still be safeguarded by the region of North Carolina, which is an unusual producer in the Appalachian Mountains.

What do falcons resemble?

Overall, he is dark gray, having a blackish skull and a golden eyering and cere. Bill is tiny and heavily curved. White underparts with delicate black banding on the flanks.

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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