More slender and lighter colored than their famous cousin, the peregrine, prairie falcons inhabit the semi-arid grasslands of the High Plains and Intermountain West, from southern Canada to Mexico. In summer, they are also found on the alpine tundra of western mountains and, in winter, some roam to eastern regions of the Great Plains.
Often seen perching on a fencepost in open country, this falcon is best identified when it streaks across your path and its black axillary plumage becomes evident. Matching the flight speed of peregrines, prairie falcons hunt low to the ground, racing along to snare unwary birds, ground squirrels, prairie dogs or pikas.
Like golden eagles, prairie falcons nest on the ledges of rock cliffs, often on the edge of mesas and buttes that rise above open terrain. Females lay 2-6 eggs on a mat of twigs and the young are fledged within a month of hatching, free to soar the Big Sky country of the American West.