If you want to see this amazing aviator, capable of diving at speeds of up to 320 kilometres an hour, you only have to travel to the nearest large city — Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, etc. — and look upward onto the ledges and windowsills of skyscrapers, which emulate the natural cliffs that peregrine falcons traditionally nest upon. Hunting mostly pigeons and migratory birds, this falcon was almost lost to the world when its populations were decimated by the rampant use of toxic organochlorine pesticides such as DDT. The banning of those chemicals, coupled with captive breeding and release programs, have brought them back in numbers higher than historical levels. While they often overwinter in large cities, your best time to see them and hear their raucous calls is from May through July.
Where to find it: In large cities, nesting on and hunting from the ledges of tall buildings, or in the steep cliffs of seacoasts.
What to look for: Adults have bluish-grey wings and light underparts with dark horizontal barring. Like all true falcons, they have a pointed “tooth” on their upper beak, which they use to bite their prey.
Not to be confused with: The gyrfalcon, which is larger and stockier, with a longer tail, or the prairie falcon, which has a lighter head colour and sandy brown underparts.