The Physics
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Speed of the Fastest Bird

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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North American Birds. New York: Knopf, 1980: 273. "In stoop at prey, one passed an airplane diving at 175 miles per hour" 78 m/s
Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. New York: Learning Co., 1997. "The champion is the peregrine falcon, it strikes prey while diving at speeds at an average of 112 miles per hour." 50 m/s
Peregrine Falcons Return. Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. 1995. "Peregines [sic] are large, grace birds that can reach speeds up to 250 km/hr, making them the fastest creatures on earth." 69 m/s
Grimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Boston, MA: Macmillan, 1968: 422. "The peregrine is most completely adapted to long distance hunting on the wing. In horizontal swoop dives, it reaches extraordinary speeds. The swooping speed of one which wintered on the tower of Cologne Cathedral and hunted pigeons from there was measured accurately at 70-90 meters per second." 80 m/s
Potter, Mark. Falco peregrinus [Peregrine Falcon]. Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan. "The peregrine falcon is perhaps the fastest animal on earth. In a stoop, or dive, the peregrine has been clocked at speeds of over 180 miles per hour." 80 m/s

The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) is without a doubt the fastest animal on earth. It has been clocked in diving speeds of up to 90 meters per second and is quite possibly the most efficient of all predators.

The peregrine is of the phylum Chordata, the class Aves, the order Falconiformes, and the family Falconidae. There are 17 different races with varying sizes and colors. All peregrines share the characteristics of basic falcons, a short slim tail and tapered wings. It feasts mainly on other birds but will sometimes eat any lizard that crosses its path. The peregrine captures its prey with its claws and often kills it with its beak. It lays two to six eggs at time and nests in tall cliffs or even buildings. Since the peregrine sits precariously at the top of the food chain it is affected dramatically by the pesticides that are consumed by the animals that it eats to stay alive. These pesticides, which do not drastically affect its prey, build up in the peregrine falcon leaving it unable to reproduce. It has been on the endangered species list for quite some time.

The peregrine falcon is very good for the environment, and farmers too, so there have been many efforts toward its preservation. The harmful pesticides have been banned and there are many organizations, which try to breed the birds in captivity and reintroduce them into the wild. The results of these efforts have been the foundation from which the population of the peregrine can grow into the new millennium.

Chris Santoro -- 1999