Doug Mackenzie Dodds - Images | Two birds on one stone. Falcon 'ell.

Two birds on one stone. Falcon 'ell.

December 24, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

If you read my blog yesterday, you'll know I rediscovered one of our town peregrines on a large local office block. "Rediscovered" as its old tower-block roost had been pulled down to make way for the town redevelopment project about a year ago.

Today I thought I'd drive by the new roost to see if the peregrine was still there.


It certainly was.

But it was joined by its partner today - which got me thinking.

A lot of people (a majority?) refer to peregrines as "peregrine falcons". But this is, I’d suggest, incorrect. Or at least confusing.

Kestrels aren’t referred to as “kestrel falcons” are they? Nor are hobbies. Nor merlins.

That said, a lot of “true falcons” do keep “falcon” in their common English name. Birds like Eleanora’s falcon. Red-footed falcon. Orange-breasted falcon.

The falcon (rather like the “duck”) is the female bird, whereas the male bird is the “tierce”.

So this morning, whilst I was looking at two (true) falcons, only one of them was an actual “falcon”, that being the bigger female bird on the right of these images. The smaller male bird is a true falcon, but not an actual falcon at all… a tiercel instead.



Like “ducks” though… you don’t say I saw some nice “tufted” on the gravel pit today, nor I saw what I presume to be an escaped “Carolina Wood” on the river today… you include the word “duck” to avoid any confusion.

But… you’d have no need to add “ducks” to your sentence if you were watching goldeneye, or pochard or mallard or wigeon or gadwall etc etc etc.

So it is with peregrines…

If you KNOW you saw the female peregrine… “falcon” is correct. Otherwise, just “peregrine” will do.




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