Check Out the Types of Falcons in Tennessee!

Are you a bird enthusiast living in Tennessee and hoping to spot some falcons? Well, we’ve got good news for you! So far, your state is home to not one but three different species of falcons.

After finishing this article, it’s time to take out your binoculars and search for those wonderful raptors. Let’s get right into it, then!

Are There Falcons in Tennessee?

As Tennessee is located in the central but southeastern side of America, the overall climate is never too cold or hot. This makes it a perfect environment for falcons to stay year-round and even during winter.

Commonly, there are three types of falcons you will see in Tennessee. We have listed them out below and included other interesting details.

Types of Falcons in Tennessee

Here are the three types of falcons you will commonly find in Tennessee:

  • Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
  • American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
  • Merlin (Falco columbarius)

Falcon Species Profile and Details

Now that you know the three different types of this bird, here are some further details for each species.

1. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Quick Species Profile

  • Length: 14.2 – 19.3 inches
  • Weight: 0.73 – 2.20 lbs. (males) and 1.5 – 3.3 lbs. (females)
  • Wingspan: 29 – 47 inches
  • Commonly found in: North America (Arizona, Tennessee, Utah, and a few other states), Europe, Mexico

Physical Appearance:

Like all other falcons, female peregrines are nearly 30% bigger in size compared the male ones. The adult version of this species has a head, back, and wings that are blue-grey in color, with brown, horizontal markings on the breast. Juvenile peregrine falcons are overall brownish in color.

Underparts are barred with streaks of white, black, and dark brown. They have yellow cere and matching colored feet, while the claws and beaks are black. The tip of the beak is sharply curved, which allows for killing the prey in a specific manner, with a quick detachment of the spinal cord.

Special Characteristics:

Peregrine falcons are in fact, faster than cheetahs, with a maximum speed of 200 miles per hour in the air.

Peregrine falcons are carnivorous and eat other small birds. They have a certain way of catching their prey while flying. First, they will fly steadily for about a kilometer and then make a sharp drop toward their kill and grab it with their talons.

Fun Fact:

Falcons have an additional eyelid that moves vertically. This allows for creating a better focus on the prey and making their vision around eight times clearer than the human eye could process.

2. American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Quick Species Profile

  • Length: 8.7 – 12.2 inches
  • Weight: 0.17 – 0.32 lbs. (males) and 0.2 – 0.36 lbs. (females)
  • Wingspan: 20 – 24 inches
  • Commonly found in: North America (Arizona, Tennessee, Utah, and a few other states), Central America, South America, deserts, and open areas.

Physical Appearance:

If you see a small and cute raptor flying or just perching somewhere in Tennessee, then be sure that it is none other than the American kestrel. They are small in size and have brown feathers on the head, back, and wings. Male kestrels usually have a blue-grey head instead of brown.

An interesting feature of the American kestrel is the dark mark on each side of the cheeks. These are said to act as “fake eyes” in order to confuse bigger predators.

Special Characteristics:

These raptors have a very light body but a heavy beak and claws. This structure creates a special weight distribution while flying, thus making them expert fliers and hunters—one of the reasons why American kestrels are a common choice in falconry.

Fun Fact:

Even though they are stealth raptors, they are very small and can easily get hunted by bigger predators.

3. Merlin (Falco columbarius)

Quick Species Profile

  • Length: 9 – 13 inches
  • Weight: 0.35 – 0.53 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 21 – 23 inches
  • Commonly found in: North America (Arizona, Tennessee, Utah, Eurasia, and a few other states).

Physical Appearance:

These birds are rather small, with feathers that are either light or dark brown.

Special Characteristics:

Even if you’re not sure whether it is a Merlin falcon you’ve spotted, you will be when you hear its call. Merlin falcons are known to have a very shrill and distinguishable call compared to other species of falcon.

Fun Fact:

Merlin falcons were called “pigeon hawks” in the earlier days. These birds were a prime choice for falconry by both noblemen and women during the medieval period.

Where Do Falcons Migrate From Tennessee?

Apart from the peregrine falcon available in Tennessee year-round, the other two types will migrate to other areas during winter. Here’s a table of the range maps according to species of where falcons in Tennessee migrate to in winter and year-round.

Species NameWinter Migration toYear-round availability
Peregrine FalconWest and South-east statesStates near and including Tennessee, Utah, Nevada, Arizona
American KestrelStates near the Gulf of MexicoAll over the country
MerlinWest and Central AmericaNorthern states (Wyoming, Montana) and Canada

Final Words

Whether or not you are a bird enthusiast, the different kinds of falcons in Tennessee can definitely get you started. Since you have just read that the peregrine falcon is the most common one in the state, you can start from there.


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