How can you distinguish between the male and the female Peregrine falcon?

The difference between the male and the female is there, but it is subtle. Let’s take our binoculars!

The most obvious feature, but not that easy to notice on screen, is the size. The male is visibly smaller than the female. He weighs around 650 g while she reaches and even passes 1 kg. Impressive! We will talk about why that difference in another blog. One easy way to evaluate this difference is to compare the size of the falcon with that of the nest. The difference is also reflected in the body shape. The female is big, wide shouldered you could say. She has a proportionally large head. She walks with a heavy step. The male is much more slender. He seems more agile and he moves faster and with more elegance than his partner. His head looks very small compared to his body.

The plumage of the male and female are also different, but it is often in the details. Furthermore, each Peregrine has a different plumage, which does not make our task easier!

The colour and design of the chest and throat are the best indicators. Typically, the male has a white belly and breast, sometimes with a pink shade, striped with fine gray horizontal lines. These are often interrupted. The upper part of the chest and throat are white, often immaculate except for a few – very rare – small gray-brown spots. The female has a belly and breast that are beige, with a reddish brown shade and with dark brown horizontal stripes. Her throat is marked with brown vertical lines. Only the area between and just below the ‘whiskers’ is immaculate, but always with a reddish beige colour that differs well from the whiteness of the male.

The colour around the eye, of the naked skin above the bill and the legs (we call these zones the ‘naked parts’) is also different: they have a more bright yellow colour in the male than is the case in the female. This is ultimately one of the best criteria!

You want to test your distinguishing skills? Easy! Just watch the rings...

At the cathedral, the female has a metallic ring on each leg. The male has a metallic ring on the left leg and nothing on the right.

In Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, the female is not ringed, while the male has a metallic ring on the right leg and a black plastic ring with the code H/2 on the left.

In Uccle, the female has a grey plastic ring with the code H/Z. The male has a black plastic ring with the code Y/7. Each has a metallic ring on the right leg.