The Peregrine Falcon

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Overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, the Samuel De Champlain Bridge, with its large smooth concrete pillars reminiscent of natural cliffs, provides an ideal habitat for the peregrine falcon. Therefore, maximum effort has been made to ensure the bridge’s harmonious integration into its surrounding natural environment.

The Falcons on the Samuel de Champlain Bridge

Peregrine falcons typically prefer cliff habitats. Ledges or small cavities provide ideal nesting and perching spots. In urban environments, falcons nest in structures with vertical walls. The piers of the Samuel de Champlain Bridge are perfect for this purpose, and three nesting boxes have been strategically installed there. This type of habitat also offers protection against predators and harsh weather conditions.

The peregrine falcon is a territorial bird, with each pair nesting at least one kilometre apart. This is why only one pair nests on the Samuel-De Champlain Bridge.

The goal of installing three nesting boxes is to close some of them when bridge maintenance work is planned nearby. This encourages the falcon to nest in the box that remains open, keeping them as far away as possible from workers performing maintenance, and ensuring that nesting is not disrupted.

Characteristics of the Peregrine Falcon

The Falco peregrinus anatum is the subspecies of peregrine falcon most commonly found in southern Quebec. Some falcons choose to spend the winter there, while others migrate at the end of the summer season, returning around March-April.

Size and Weight 

The male peregrine falcon is smaller than the female: the male measures between 38 cm to 46 cm in length and weighs an average of 0.6 kg, while the female measures between 46 to 54 cm and has an average weight of 0.8 kg. The wingspan of the falcon varies from 1.1 to 1.2 metres.

Physical Traits

The adult peregrine falcon has a buff-coloured forehead, dark gray head and back, white chest, white belly with horizontal black stripes, black talons, yellow legs, and a pale blue beak. Females and males are very similar. The young falcons are pale brown to dark brown on top and pale yellow underneath.


The peregrine falcon is a bird of prey that hunts during the day and primarily feeds on medium-sized birds such as pigeons and gulls. It usually captures its prey in a dive, reaching speeds exceeding 300 km/h.

Mating and Nesting

The peregrine falcon typically migrates to breeding areas at the beginning of March for mating, with an egg-laying starting about two or three weeks later.

The peregrine falcon seems to maintain the same partner during the breeding season. This species is attached to its nesting territory, often preferring to return if it remains undisturbed.

The female lays between 3 and 4 eggs between late March and mid-April. Both the male and the female take turns incubating the eggs for a period of 28 to 35 days until they hatch. In May, the fledgelings begin to explore the nest, and the parents care for them, feeding them for a period of 35 to 42 days or until the fledglings are strong enough to fly. The family will return to the nest for a variable period before starting their autumn migration. Some peregrine falcons migrate south, while others migrate to forested areas or simply remain around urban areas, feeding on non-migratory birds.

The Peregrine Falcon: A Species at Risk in Canada and Protected by Provincial and Federal Regulations

The peregrine falcon subspecies anatum/tundrius was assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as a species of concern in April 2007, and subsequently reassessed as not at risk in November 2017. However, the pealei subspecies has been protected under the federal Species at Risk Act since November 2017. This Act prohibits killing, harming, harassing, capturing, or taking a falcon.

In Quebec, the peregrine falcon is protected under the Quebec Act respecting the conversation and development of wildlife , which prohibits hunting, trapping, or possessing a wild bird of prey (alive or dead) at all times. The subspecies Falco peregrinus anatum is designated as a vulnerable species and is protected under Quebec’s Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species.

Online Resources to Learn More About the Peregrine Falcon

Warning : Peregrine Falcon Nesting Area!

For your safety and that of these majestic raptors, please do not approach the marked perimeters and avoid any disturbances.

  • Maintain a minimum distance of 100 metres between yourself, any drones, and any nests or birds you are observing.
  • Limit the flight duration to a maximum of 2 minutes to avoid excessive disturbance.

Thank you for your understanding and your contribution to preserving the tranquility and environment of this iconic species.