Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The prairie falcon, Falco mexicanus, occurs across the western United States, in a small portion of southwestern Canada, and in northern and central Mexico. Typically, this bird is found in open habitats, such as plains and prairies. Populations do not migrate long distances, but some birds move from breeding grounds to lower elevations, where prey availability is higher, during the winter.

The diet of the prairie falcon includes a variety of prey, but mammals, especially ground squirrels, are particularly important during the summer; birds are often captured during winter when small mammals are scarce. Prey may be cached (stored for later use) in vegetation or on a ledge, most commonly during the early periods of brood rearing. Eggs are typically laid on a well-sheltered ledge on a rocky cliff high above the ground. Eggs may be laid in the old nest of a raven or a hawk. Four or five eggs are laid and incubated, mostly by the female, for 29 to 33 days. During this time, the male brings food to the nest. Young are cared for by both parents and remain at the nest for 36 to 41 days. Usually pairs change nest sites within their territory in successive years.


  • Steenhof, K. 1998. Prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus). Birds of North America 346: 28 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.