The Design of Peregrine Falcons

The Design of Peregrine Falcons
The Design of Peregrine Falcons
Peregrin Falcon

Human structures often upset the natural balance of birds. One example is the abundance of pigeons in urban areas, which disfigure statues and decorative stone buildings and spread various diseases. One solution to the pigeon problem has been the introduction of peregrine falcons. The design of peregrine falcons has allowed them to adjust to human structures and use their highly designed physical characteristics to defend themselves in both city and rural areas.

The peregrine falcon is not exceptionally large, but it is designed for high-speed flight and uses that ability to kill other birds, even eagles. The peregrine will fly high and dive on an intended prey at over 200 miles per hour. That speed produces many challenges for these birds. The change in pressure would cause the lungs of the peregrine falcon to burst, except for the design of its nostrils. The falcon has bony tubercles on its nostrils that guide airflow away from the nasal passages, reducing the change in air pressure. 

Another problem with a high-speed dive is vision. Most of us have had the experience of having our eyes water when facing a strong wind, but the peregrine falcon has nictitating membranes that are essentially a third eyelid that keeps the eyes clear. Also, the design of peregrine falcons shows a dark area below the eye, which reduces glare. 

In the city, pigeons comprise a large percentage of the peregrine falcon diet. The birds nest in the windows of skyscrapers, giving people in the offices a view of their lifestyles and the production of offspring. Several years ago, office workers in South Bend, Indiana, complained that peregrine falcons were killing pigeons and bringing their victims back to the nest. People in tall buildings were horrified when the falcons tore up the bodies of pigeons to feed their young. They didn’t realize that peregrine falcons help maintain the balance of birds in urban areas, meeting an important need for city dwellers. In the wild, peregrine falcons eat rodents and other small mammals. 

Airplane designers have studied the design of peregrine falcons and copied many of their features. Like many other engineering problems, we can look to what God has created and copy the design to solve our own problems. Neither a jet airplane nor a peregrine falcon is a product of accidental change. Design requires intelligence and purpose, and the peregrine falcon is a classic example of both.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

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