• Speed Thrills: The Peregrine Falcon tops out at a speed faster than your McLaren

The cheetah may reign supreme as the fastest animal on land, but when you take into account the air above and the water below, the title of fastest animal on the planet belongs to the Peregrine Falcon.

When considering the broad scope of the fastest animal on the planet, the Top 10 list would probably consist mostly of birds, but in fairness to the land and water-based creatures, we’re going to hold the Peregrine Falcon and other high-speed birdies in a different category altogether. You see, when measuring the speed of birds based on traveling speed measured in level flying, the Peregrine Falcon isn’t the king of the air. Actually, it doesn’t even crack the Top 10. The title for fastest bird in this kind of flight goes to the Spine-Tailed Swift, which can hit a top level flying speed of 106 mph. Compare that to the Peregrine Falcon, which can hit a top speed of just about 60 mph in level flight - impressive in its own right, but not Top 10 material - and the Spine-Tailed Swift blows it out of the water.

So, how is this bird considered the fastest all around and how dare we compare it to a McLaren? Well, hit the jump to find out.

The Peregrine Falcon may be slower than some of its feathered brethren, but - and this is a very big but - it is still considered the fastest bird - actually, the fastest animal altogether - on the planet when it prepares to do its hunting dive called the stoop. What this involves is the Peregrine Falcon soaring to great heights before diving steeply to catch its prey. It is during this stoop that the bird reaches unheard of speeds, easily eclipsing 200 mph - 200 miles per hour, people! - which, in case you didn’t know, is equal to the top speed of supercars like the Ferrari 458 Italia and the McLaren MP4-12C.

Say what you will about this magnificent bird, but when you’re talking to or about a Peregrine Falcon, it’s best to remind everyone that this high-flying falcon is not only considered the fastest bird on the planet, but the fastest animal in all the kingdom as well.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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  (2) posted on 09.7.2015

The peregrine falcons is not the fastest animal or even fastest bird on earth. I have never believed that; as even a jet fighter can reach super sonic speeds in dive, but it’s normal flying speed is not its speed in a dive. In fact two humans on this planet have even eclipsed the peregrine’s speed in a dive. One was an force officer and the other was a recreational thrill seeker. They both rode helium balloons to over 125,000 feet and jump out and both men free fell for 4 or 5 minutes before opening there chutes around 10,000 feet. In their free fall they both broke the sound barrier, and that speed is over 600 mph. So, according your way of thinking, that makes man the fastest of all animals on earth diving at faster than the speed of sound. Now figure speed the right, straight and level flight, swimming in the water, or running on land.

  (2) posted on 08.10.2014

I still don’t buy that the peregrine falcon is so fast. It may fast in a dive, so what, level flight is what really counts. Even the fastest plane on earth, can only fly so fast at level flight, but if it went into a dive it could go much faster. The Cheata is still the fastest animal on earth, unless there is a bird that can fly faster than 72 MPH in level fight. Dives don’t count.

  (1) posted on 03.20.2014

Thanks to National Geographic the actual recorded top speed of a peregrin falcon is 242 mph! This compares to a Bugatti Veyron with a speed of 248 mph! AND the bird was bread in captivity so it is possible wild peregrins can go FASTER!

  (619) posted on 07.8.2011

I guess this is a sort of comparison between the living and the machine!I’m quite impressed that even the speedy car like the McLaren can’t be as speed as this animal.

  (458) posted on 07.8.2011

hehe. I’m very glad to read this post its very informative. I have read interesting topic here at TopSpeed just like in Car Inforgraphics section. I have seen wide variation of topic here. Keep it up guys smiley

  (714) posted on 07.1.2011

What the? Is Top Speed turning into Animal Planet? Nah, just kidding. I actually like it whenever you post these kinds of stuff, definitely makes your site more informative.

  (599) posted on 06.30.2011

Wow! I was amazed how this Peregrine Falcon can literally meet the top of my favorite Ferrari 458 Italia. Its fun and cool to know that a bird can easily reach the speed of 200 miles per hour. That’s a monster in animalistic speed.

  (444) posted on 06.30.2011

I agree, you really won’t appreciate these little critters unless you see them in action. Which is why I really love watching them whenever I head to the countryside every weekend.

  (320) posted on 06.29.2011

Imagine that, these birds are actually rather common in our place, but I never though that they would actually be that impressive. Might as well do some bird watching to see these guys in action.

  (458) posted on 06.29.2011

Wow, for a bird, I would say that that one is definitely fast. But I actually know about that one since I was a kid, it’s really more like a basic fact.

  (449) posted on 06.29.2011

Oh! I thought the fastest bird is the owl. However, its a good thing that they are giving back in nature. And with the speed performance of this car no wonder it was based on the fastest animal.

  (368) posted on 06.29.2011

Yeah, I have read before that the cheetah is the fastest animal in the land. And its a good thing that human gets inspiration from this creature. I wonder on who will win between the race between them.

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