The speed champion

What do you think is the fastest animal in the world? A shark? A cheetah? A human being?

No, the fastest animal in the world is, of course, a bird. The Peregrine is a small falcon that kills its prey by folding its wings and diving on it from a great height.

During this dive, it can reach 240 kilometres an hour—or even faster! (some people say it can reach 440 kilometres an hour!) It hits its prey in the back of the head with its claws. But you don’t have to worry. The Peregrine lives on other birds which it attacks in flight. (It sometimes eats small mammals ,reptiles and insects—but not people!)

The Peregrine is not a large bird. The male bird is only between 35-45 cm long and weighs up to 750 grams. The famale is slightly larger and heavier. But it attacks (and kills )birds up to the size of a goose—in flight! If the Peregrine hits its target, it usually has its dinner! But, strangely, the Peregrine misses more targets than it hits. It might only get one target out of every ten tried!

The Peregrine is not very fussy about its nest. It usually just make a scrape in the earth on a cliff ledge. Sometimes, it takes an old nest left behide by another bird. It is found in many parts of the world. It likes to be in open areas, well away from people.

Twenty years ago, the Peregrine was in danger of becoming extinct. Now, its numbers are slowly increasing.