Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Peregrine Falcon, the Petritis of Falconas to the Cretans, is the fastest animal known – and the most powerful of the hawks known in Greece. Flat out it can reach over 300 kph, with one recorded closer to 400 kph! It has a body length of only 35-50 cm, and a wingspan of 90-115 cm. Adults are a blue-grey colour, with horizontal stripes on chest and legs; their eyes are yellow. The immature are dark brown with grey legs. A distinct feature is that on the side of the head are black stripes – a bit like whiskers or a moustache (how very Cretan!). In flight it can be recognized by the pointed wing tips and short tail.
Its prey is generally medium-sized birds which they take in the air by stooping ( a steep to vertical attack from above); they will also eat at times small mammals and reptiles. They nest on steep slopes or in trees.
Peregrines are very sensitive to pesticides: excessive use has led to a decline in population. For this reason the presence (or not) of peregrines is a good indicator of the health (or not) of an ecosystem.