Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 49(2). December 2017


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Little information exists concerning Prairie falcons’ (Falco mexicanus; PRFA) seasonal movements, habitat use, and diet outside of the breeding season; this is especially true in the eastern portion of its wintering and migratory range (Steenhof 1998, Sharpe et al. 2001, Steenhof et al. 2005). Prairie falcons prey on ground squirrels (Spermophilus spp.), prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.), wood rats (Neotoma spp.), and other rodents during the breeding season (Bond 1936, 1942, MacLaren et al. 1988, Steenhof 1998, Steenhof et al. 1999, Johnsgard 2013). They utilize avian prey regionally as well, including western meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta), horned larks (Eremophila alpestris), mourning doves (Zenaida macroura), and others (Fuertes 1905, Tyler 1923, Fowler 1931, Boyce 1985). As Steenhof (1998) notes, studies of PRFA diet have focused largely on remains recovered at nesting sites during the breeding season and less is known about their non-breeding season food habits. Prairie falcons are known to prey upon horned larks, western meadowlarks, and occasionally voles (Microtus spp.) during the winter and early spring months (Enderson 1964, Beauvais et al. 1992, Steenhof 1998).