Male or Female Peregrine?

As with many other raptors, the female peregrine is larger than the male. Although this is a useful fact to remember if looking at pictures from the nestcam, it is not usually a great help if you see a single bird flying around or on the cathedral.

Female and male peregrines.

Female and male peregrines.

The picture above shows the size difference, even after allowances are made for perspective.

Female peregrines can be easy to identify soon after a meal because they have a distinctive “golf-ball crop.”

Female peregrine after a good meal.

Female peregrine after a good meal.

Some of the other characteristics described in this guide are specific to the Wakefield peregrines. For example, the male has a ring on his right leg. We don’t know where he came from but he must have been ringed in the nest as a chick.

Male peregrine.

Male peregrine.

It is normal for females to have heavier markings on their chests than the males and this is the case for the Wakefield birds. Markings on the male’s chest don’t extend as high as those on the female’s chest. In addition, the male’s chest usually appears whiter than the female’s, especially when he sits on the spire, catching the sun.

Male peregrine.

Male peregrine.

The female looks more muscular than the male and, because of her greater bulk, her head can appear smaller relative to her body. The male has a smoother, sleeker appearance.

Female peregrine.

Female peregrine.

On the Wakefield peregrines, the yellow eye ring of the female is more conspicuous than that of the male.

When you have absorbed these facts, you can still expect it to be difficult, at times,to tell which bird you are looking at.