Mar 19 2009
Question: Do peregrines mate for life? How do they acquire a new mate? Do they fight to the death?
Answer: Peregrine falcons are monogamous, though exceptions do occur. They are even more loyal to their nest sites, especially if they’ve successfully raised young there.
Good nest sites are hard to find, so each spring peregrines who want to acquire a site (we call them “intruders”) test the owners of those sites. Intruder males fight resident males; intruder females fight resident females. The losers are often killed. The winners get the territory, the nest site, and immediately court and mate with the remaining peregrine.
It is truly survival of the fittest. For real life examples of this see:
- Peregrine Drama in Beaver County
- Pitt’s Male Peregrine Defends Nest
- Stay Away From My Dorothy! TiernyLab in the New York Times
- Slideshow of fight between Erie and Pulse at Pitt, 18 March 2007, pictured above
- Pulse’s body found
- Wilmington:Is the Fighting Over?
- New female peregrine at the Gulf Tower
(photo of two male peregrines fighting at the nest at the University of Pittsburgh, 18 March 2007. Falconcam by The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy)