The Peregrine Falcon , also known as the Peregrine, is a cosmopolitan bird of prey in the family Falconidae. The Peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching speeds of over 320 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop, making it the fastest extant member of the animal kingdom.
It is a large, crow-sized falcon, with a blue-gray back, barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache". Experts recognize 17 to 19 subspecies which vary in appearance and range. Typical of bird-eating raptors, all subspecies of F. peregrinus, including the nominate, are sexually dimorphic, with females being considerably larger than males.
The Peregrine's breeding range includes land regions from the Arctic tundra to the Tropics. It can be found nearly everywhere on Earth, except extreme polar regions, very high mountains, and most tropical rainforests; the only major ice-free landmass from which it is entirely absent is New Zealand. This fact makes it the world's most widespread bird of prey. Both the English and scientific names of this species mean "wandering falcon", referring to the migratory habits of many northern populations.
While its diet consists almost exclusively of medium-sized birds, the Peregrine will occasionally hunt small mammals, small reptiles or even insects. Reaching sexual maturity at one year, it mates for life and nests in a scrape, normally on cliff edges or, in recent times, on tall human-made structures.