Falcons and Caracaras
The family Falconidae includes 10 species found in North America.
The true falcons range in size from the tiny falconets and pygmy falcons (length 15 cm, weight 45-75 gms), to the Gyrfalcon (50-60 cm in length, average weights for males 1.17 kg, females 1.75 kg). The falconets feed mainly on insects. The large falcons are strong, fast flyers specialized for killing birds in flight, possibly by striking them with the hind claws or by seizing them in their talons and dropping to the ground. Kestrels take small mammals and insects by hovering and dropping to the ground for the capture. The largest falcons, such as the Peregrine and Gyrfalcon, are able to kill large birds in the air or capture mammals on the ground. Peregrines take mainly birds from passerines to pigeons, grouse, ducks and geese and mammals up to the size of rabbits. Gyrfalcons also feed mostly on birds taken in flight or on the ground, ranging from passerines to ptarmigan, ducks, geese and seabirds. Few mammals are taken during the breeding season, more in the winter.
The caracaras are omnivorous. All feed on carrion and most species also take some or all of the following: adult insects and larvae, other arthropods, nestling birds, frogs, lizards, small mammals, fruits and other plant material.
Falcons vary in their nesting, but none builds its own nest. Some lay the eggs on a bare rock ledge or in a scrape on the ground, others use the old nest of another bird and some nest in cavities in trees or buildings. Eggs of all falcons are buffy thickly blotched and speckled with dark reddish-brown. Clutch size usually 3-6 in small species, and 3-5 in large species. Eggs are laid at 2-3 day intervals. Incubation is 25-32 days in small species to 32-35 days in large species. Post-fledging dependency 2-3 weeks in small species to 2 months in large ones. The female does most of the incubation and care of the young, the male brings most of the food.
Falcons - Patuxent Bird ID Center