Have you ever flown on an airplane? One of the biggest benefits of traveling by air is the ability to fly great distances in a short time because of how fast airplanes can go.

Birds enjoy similar benefits. Have you ever wished you could fly? Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep in an extra half-hour in the mornings and then jump out of bed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and fly to school?

Have you ever watched birds flying in the sky? Some seem to soar into the air and float there. Others dart about from tree to tree with great speed. Have you ever WONDERed which bird flies the fastest?

That honor goes to the super-speedy peregrine falcon. Peregrine falcons are one of the most common birds of prey around the world. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

Peregrine falcons are raptors that hunt other birds and bats. They patrol the skies and dive onto their prey when they spot them from high above. The peregrine falcon’s steep, high-speed dive — called a stoop — can send them hurtling toward their prey at over 200 miles per hour!

Can you imagine that? Think about the last time you were traveling on a highway with your family. If you were traveling in the family car at about 50 miles per hour, that’s only a quarter of the speed a peregrine falcon reaches during a stoop!

In 2005, a peregrine falcon was recorded traveling 242 miles per hour during a stoop. This makes the peregrine falcon the fastest animal, beating even the speedy cheetah!

Peregrine falcons, whose name means “wanderer,” sometimes migrate long distances. For example, peregrine falcons that build nests on Arctic tundra might fly over 15,000 miles each year to spend winters in South America.

Many peregrine falcons, though, are permanent residents of the areas where they live. In addition to cliffs along shorelines, you’ll also find peregrine falcons living under bridges and on top of skyscrapers in large cities.

Despite sometimes traveling long distances, peregrine falcons have an amazing ability to return to their favorite spots year after year. Scientists believe some popular nesting sites have been used continuously for hundreds of years by successive generations of peregrine falcons.

Once an endangered species in many areas, peregrine falcons have made a tremendous comeback in recent years. Today, captive breeding programs have led to strong populations around the world and especially in the United States and Canada.

Peregrine falcons have many special features that allow them to fly so quickly. From very light, hollow bones and streamlined feathers to curved wings and strong chest muscles, peregrine falcons were built for speed.

But a peregrine falcon’s speed comes in short bursts. Other birds can fly really fast for long periods of time, covering huge distances in a short time. For example, scientists have learned that great snipes can travel from Sweden to Africa in only two days without resting. That means they travel over 4,000 miles at an average speed of about 60 miles per hour!

105 Join the Discussion

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    • We’re so glad you woke up and visited us first thing this morning, Isaiah! HOORAY! We LOVE to Wonder with you and your classmates, thank you for making us a part of your day! We hope to Wonder with you for a very long time! :-)

  1. It was interesting to learn about why falcons used to be endagered. We connected it to last week’s wonder about “Rosie the Riveter”. The speaker on the video was a little hard to understand because she talked pretty quickly. We’re studying persuasive techniques in our class and we noticed that this person used emotional appeal to persuade us to watch out and help the falcons.

    Predictions: spaghetti factory, how your stomach works (digestion), what makes you hungry, something disgusting, foods from different countries, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, how to make dough, diets, what makes your stomach growl, diabetes…

    • Hi there, Mrs. Hess’ Class! We’re so excited you’re here this morning (and some of you have been WONDERing on your own, too! WOHOO!) We are so happy you mentioned persuasion; what a SUPER connection to our Rosie the Riveter and bird Wonders! We agree, those videos were full of emotion!

      Your guesses are making us hungry, too! We can’t wait until tomorrow’s Wonder… but until then, have a WONDERful Wednesday! :)

  2. We thought today’s wonder was going to be about birds.
    We WONDER what is the second fastest bird is… perhaps the eagle? We also WONDER in a contest, would a peregrine falcon or a race car win?

    Our predictions for tomorrow’s Wonder made us hungry. We predict it will be about: LOTS OF FOOD, famous restaurant, ice cream, burgers.

    • Great job, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Atkinson’s Class! You correctly guessed our Wonder of the Day®! YIPPEE! We bet you can do some more WONDERing of your own to find out how fast an eagle can fly! We know there are cars in the world that can go faster than a falcon, but they have engines! The coolest part of those speedy birds is they use their own bodies to get around! We think it’s a cool to imagine a car racing a bird… we’re hoping the bird wins!

      Thanks for sharing your awesome guesses with us– we’re starting to get hungry! :)

  3. We didnt think there was anything faster than a cheetah!! These birds are really fast.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about food.

    • Phew, we can hardly believe how fast the peregrine falcon can fly! We’re glad you compared and contrasted a falcon and a cheetah– nice work, Wonder Friends in Ms. Bayko’s Class! We can’t wait to dine with you tomorrow at Wonderopolis! :-)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thanks for the flight with the falcon. It was interesting learning about falcons today.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about food, we can’t wait to see what kind.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Tillman’s 4th graders

    • We’re glad you have been soaring with us today, Mrs. Tillman’s 4th grade class! Birds are very interesting, and we’re glad you joined us as we learned something new today! Tomorrow’s Wonder is going to be delicious! We can’t wait!

      Thanks for sharing your comment, and always being so polite! Thank you for WONDERing with us! :)

  5. I knew today’s wonder would be about birds. I always like being right. I think falcons are a really great type of bird.

    I’m from Mrs. Hess’ Class.

  6. I knew I will get this wonder of the day right since I just get with all the things that fly such as planes, jets, spaceships, and birds.

    Plus tomorrow’s wonder I think will be of Charlie and the choclate factory I wonder.

    • Thanks for WONDERing about birds with us, Pedro! We’re thrilled you are here, especially since you enjoy WONDERing about things that soar! :) We hope to see you tomorrow for our delicious Wonder! YUM! :)

  7. This piece surprised me when you said the fastest bird was the falcon. It was very interesting to learn that the falcon dives at 200 mph! Thanks for teaching me that.

    • Hi there, Kacie! Thanks for sharing what you learned today! The falcon is an amazing bird to Wonder about– we can’t believe it can swiftly dive and fly at such a high speed! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Kyle! We Wonder if falcons find it easy to build a temporary shelter under a bridge, away from the elements of rain, snow or even predators? :)

  8. Most of us did not know that the peregrine falcon is the faster than the cheetah! It was really cool that the peregrine falcon was once endangered because it was shot down because it ate the carrier pigeons from World War II. It is amazing to know that some birds can travel from Sweden to Africa at high speeds without rest. We also loved clicking on the word raptor and learning about the eagle with a man-made beak. It saddens us to think that people actually shoot these American icons!

    • Hi there, Tigers4th grade! We’re so glad you’ve been WONDERing about the peregrine falcon today. Thanks for summarizing what you learned– from endangered species status to their history with the carrier pigeon! So much WONDERing to do! WOHOO! :)

    • We agree, Brent! We know that it’s important to keep an eye out for these animals, as they are still rare, but we’re glad they’re no longer endangered! :)

  9. What’s up I was seeing what wonder was today and the fastest bird is a Hornet F18 supersonic fighter jet so I don’t think I have to worry about the jet being topped by a bird!

    • What a great Wonder, Jenna! We know the ship was the fastest in the galaxy, but we can’t confirm if the falcon inspired the name! We Wonder if you can do some more WONDERing of your own– we’d love to learn more! :)

  10. Also I had no idea you were responding to my comments ha ha so I checked on my comment for Scandinavia wonder and I was happy to see you responded thanks!! ;)

    • We LOVE chatting with our Wonder Friends, Hunter! We are so glad that you’ve been WONDERing with us! Keep up the SUPER work! :)

  11. I thought today’s wonder was really cool. I cannot believe that those birds can fly at 200 miles per hour! And I thought going on the highway was fast! Thank you for today’s wonder! :) ;)

  12. Hi Wonderopolis,
    Do you guys still remember me? Because I remember you guys. My class Skype called Wonder Barbara Last year when I was in grade 3. I’m still in Mrs. Theisen’s class but in grade 4 this year! Anyway let me get to the point. I had a question. Um… you know how you said that there the most common bird of prey around. I got confused. So can you clear that up for me?

    • Hi there, Mushkale, we’re glad you’re back! Of course we remember you! :) How is grade 4 this year? We sure are glad to know that you’re still WONDERing! The term “birds of prey” refers to how the bird hunts… this bird hunts while flying! We hope that helped you better understand our Wonder, Mushkale! :)

  13. Wonderopolis,

    Grace and I really liked the today’s wonder! It was really interesting that peregrine falcons can fly 242 miles per hour! The person that was talking in the video was talking too fast. So we couldn’t understand what he was saying.

    • We’re so glad our Wonder Friends, Grace and Mikayla T, are here today! Thanks for sharing what you learned today, and your thoughts about the Wonder video, too! We appreciate your feedback! :)

  14. Hi Wonderopolis
    We are in Mrs. Thiessen’s class.
    We think today’s wonder was really interesting. We had no idea that a bird could be that fast! Anyway we have some wonders for you, Navleen wonders who discoverd Canada? Hunza wonders who was the first Queen?

    • HOORAY for our Wonder Friends Hunza and Navleen! We’re glad you enjoyed today’s Wonder with us! Thanks for sharing your own Wonders, too! Canada and the Queen… we’ve got some WONDERing to do! :)

  15. Hi Wonderopolis we are wondering how fast is a bald eagle compared to a peregrine falcon?
    This was a cool wonder a cheetah is my favorite animal. -Aidan
    Today’s Wonder was really cool my favorite animal is a rhino, did you know rhinos are on the endangered list? -Devin

    Aidan & Devin

    • We bet you can find out how fast a bald eagle is with some WONDERing of your own! We’re glad that you liked our Wonder today, and related it to other animals who are speedy, too! Thanks for visiting us today, Aidan and Devin! :)

  16. Hi Wonderopolis,
    We loved your wonder today about the peregrine falcon! We’re so happy because we guessed it right for the first time! We think might be about . . .

    • Great work, Mikayla and Kiran! We’re glad you figured out our Wonder! WOOHOO! We’re getting hungry just thinking about your guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder! See you then! :)

  17. Hello Wonderopolis,
    We were fascinated with todays Wonder of the Day! We were amazed at how fast peregrine falcons can fly. We were still wondering if they live in Saskatchewan, Canada? We predict that tomorrow’s Wonder is a PICNIC.

    • Aren’t they incredible birds, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Bork’s Grade 4/5 Class?! We are AMAZED with their speed! We learned that these birds have been spotted in Saskatchewan from time to time. We Wonder if you have seen them?! :)

    • Phew, we bet it takes a lot of practice to become the fastest person in the universe! Do you like to run, ride your bike, or skate, Eugene? :)

  18. Thank’s for today’s wonder. Peregrines are a favorite bird of ours. Our guess for tomorrow’s wonder is about animals that have really big appetites, or what trigger’s our appetite, or about APP’s !!!

    • Thanks so much for WONDERing with us today, Gwen and Angus! We’re glad to Wonder about one of your favorite types of birds! We are getting hungry just THINKING about tomorrow’s Wonder… we sure hope to see you soon! :)

  19. I’m in Mrs. Hess’ class. I think some people talk very fast like tigers! I think it is interesting to talk about birds. I am sorry about people who shot the birds at World War 2!

    I think tomorrow’s WONDER is about restaurants, foods, diets, drinks… and have a great day!

    • Hi there, Kathy! Welcome back! We’re so glad you have been WONDERing with us today– today’s Wonder really flew by! Phew! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s mouth-watering Wonder will be! We hope you’re having a great day, too! :)

    • A Wonder so nice, you’ll visit us twice! Thanks so much, Ally! We’re so lucky to have great, curious Wonder Friends like you! :)

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed WONDERing about those speedy falcons, Ririco! We are so glad you visited us– we hope you’ll be back for more WONDERing! :)

  20. Did you know a bald eagle can fly up to 20-40 mile per hour, and when diving up to 100 miles? Wonderopolis is one of the best places to learn.

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Joseph, we’re so glad you shared what you learned with us! Thanks for doing some WONDERing and research of your own about the bald eagle. We are lucky to have a great Wonder Friend like you, Joseph! :)

  21. Did you know an eagle can fly up to 40-60!! miles per hour, but it can fly faster when diving up to 100?!!! miles per hour. That is pretty much half of the speed of the peregine falcon. But then what is the fastest bird in the word?

    • Joseph, we are so proud of you for sharing your comment with us– you have been doing a great job of researching speedy birds! We learned that the peregrine falcon is the speediest bird around, and we’re also glad it’s no longer endangered! We hope you’re having a SUPER day! :)

  22. This place sounds pretty cool and I didn’t know that a peregrine falcon could go that fast I mean a race car can usually race that fast but still that’s the fastest bird ever in my opinion. Now I’m going to get on here every morning that I can!!

    • Hey there, Riley, thanks for WONDERing with us today! We’re so happy you’re here! The peregrine falcon is an impressive bird– it can swoop and dive at 200 miles per hour! WOW! Thanks for sharing your comment, and we hope to see you soon! :)

  23. Thanks for chatting back with me. This has been very fun I told my teacher and she said she didn’t even know about that! I have been having a ton of fun learning all of this thanks for sharing the facts. This place is really helpful see you later!

    • We LOVE when our Wonder Friends share their comments, so thanks for sharing yours, Riley! We are so glad you told your teacher about Wonderopolis- we hope to Wonder with your class, too! How fun! :)

      Thanks for visiting us today– we’ll see you soon! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Guner! We are so glad you have been WONDERing about super fast birds and their top speeds! We sure hope you’ll join us for the next Wonder of the Day– it’s going to be a treat indeed! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend WOW!!! Thanks for sharing your comment with us– we think it’s impressive that the peregrine falcon can dive at 200 miles per hour! WOW! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Baden L! We bet you had a great time WONDERing about the peregrine falcon– we sure did! Perhaps you can be a peregrine falcon for Halloween this year! :)

  24. I knew falcons could fly fast, but I didn’t know they could fly that fast. I always thought falcons were interesting animals. I would love to be able to fly to school to.

    • We think it would be super cool to fly to school, too, Imeryrani! We are so glad you learned something new about those speedy birds- hooray for WONDERing! :)

  25. That is crazy 242mph. I thought the fastest bird would be one of the small kind of birds. I have seen falcons, but not a peregrine falcon.

    • ZOOM, we couldn’t imagine seeing a bird dive as fast as the peregrine falcon! If we blinked, we think we would miss it! Thanks for sharing your comment today, Chase! We’re glad you’re here! :)

  26. Today we learned about falcons. We learned that they can dive 200 mph! This is faster than a bullet train. A bullet train can only go 190 mph. So the falcon is faster!

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Nuse’s Kindergarten library class, thanks for joining us on this fantastic Friday! We love that you told us about what you learned today, and you compared falcons to bullet trains! What great work! We hope you have a WONDERful weekend and we’ll see you soon! :)

  27. Today we learned that the falcon dives at 200 mph. A drag car in a race one time went 330 mph. We were surprised that the drag race car was faster!

    • Hello to our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Nuse’s 2nd Kindergarten Class! Thank you for visiting us this morning! It sounds like you have been comparing and contrasting falcons and cars today– what a cool way to begin the day! From your awesome comment, we learned that the drag car can travel 130 mph faster than the falcon! YOWZA! Thanks for sharing your WONDERful comment! :)

  28. Today we learned that the fastest animal is the peregrine falcon. It can fly 200mph! This made us wonder what is the slowest animal. It is the sloth, which looks kind of a monkey. He is the slowest animal on earth.

    • WOHOO, our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Nuse’s 3rd Kindergarten Library class have been diving in to our falcon Wonder today! YIPPEE! We are so excited that you have been comparing and contrasting the speeds of animals, like the falcon and the sloth! Thank you for visiting us today! We hope to Wonder with you again soon! :)

  29. Today we learned that the peregrine falcon is the fastest. It is faster than a tuner race car. It is a tie with Formula 1 cars. They both go 200 mph.

    • Good afternoon, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Nuse’s 4th Kindergarten Library Class! We are very proud of you for comparing the speeds of different things, like animals and race cars! We bet flying with a peregrine falcon would be quite an adventure! We would be holding on tight during that wild ride! :)

  30. Okay so the peregrine falcon is the fastest, then is the eagle or condor the second or third? Because eagles can kill deer and I think the condor can too. AND YOU SHOUD HAVE ONE ON THE BIGGEST BIRD IN THE WORLD!

  31. That’s SO cool! (I’ve always wanted to fly– I dream about flying a lot.)
    I am doing a short report about this topic, and I’m really GLAD I picked it! YYYAAAYYY!

    Emmy :)

    • HOORAY Wonder Friend K9Luv28 (or Emmy), we are so glad you loved this Wonder– what a great Wonder topic! We hope you get to fly on your own… even if it’s in a plane! Thanks for sharing your comment- we bet you’ll do a great job on your report! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Which bird flies the fastest?
  • How fast can peregrine falcons fly?
  • What bird can travel the farthest distance in the shortest time?

Wonder Gallery

Fastest FlierVimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to learn more about the fascinating peregrine falcon? Try one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Download and print the Penn-Jersey Urban Peregrine Partnership’s Kid’s Book. It’s filled with interesting facts about the peregrine falcon. It also has fun puzzles and activities! You can also do a fun online peregrine falcon jigsaw puzzle!
  • Check out National Geographic’s Peregrine Falcons Creature Feature to learn more facts, see photos and watch an interesting video.
  • How does the peregrine falcon’s speed compare to the top speeds achieved by today’s fastest cars? Do some Internet research to learn how fast some of today’s fastest cars can go. Create a bar graph that compares the speeds of various cars to that of the peregrine falcon. Which would you rather do: drive a Lamborghini or ride on the back of a peregrine falcon? Write a brief paragraph explaining your answer!

Still Wondering

Watch National Geographic Education’s Terminal Velocity video to see skydivers chase the peregrine falcon’s speed.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

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Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.