A peregrine falcon's diet mainly consists of smaller birds, such as pigeons, starlings, doves, jays, shorebirds, songbirds and waterfowl. However, peregrine falcons inhabit six continents and live in both rural and urban environments, so they quickly adapt to catching other types of animals, including reptiles, insects, bats, fish and rodents.
Despite their versatile abilities, peregrine falcons usually hone their hunting skills to target specific localized species, such as pigeons in cities and seabirds near coastal towns. They scan for prey by finding tall trees, cliffs, bridges, buildings and even ships to perch and nest on. After spotting suitable prey, falcons fly high up and hurtle down towards their targets in a rapid dive. They position their wings close to their bodies to gain speed, traveling as fast as 200 mph. Next, falcons use their talons to grab prey in midair and may immediately disarm the animals by breaking their necks.
Peregrine falcons may also fly low to the ground or water to snatch up rodents, reptiles and fish. When they don't have the time or vantage point to plan a thorough attack, falcons aggressively chase other birds in flight in hopes of tiring out their prey. Falcons have the aerial agility to ram smaller birds out of the air or quickly change direction while flying to kill prey from below. While they typically carry larger prey to the ground or a perch to remove the feathers, falcons can easily consume a small bird in midair.