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Any of nearly 60 species of diurnal birds of prey in the family Falconidae, characterized by long, pointed wings and swift, powerful flight. The name is sometimes restricted to the more than 35 species of true falcons, genus Falco. Species range from 6 to 24 in. (15–60 cm) long. Females of the genus Falco are larger and bolder than males and are preferred for falconry. Falcons, found worldwide, commonly nest in treeholes or on cliff ledges. Some species capture birds in midair; others live on hares, mice, lizards, and insects. See alsogyrfalcon, hawk, kestrel, merlin, peregrine falcon.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on falcon, visit Britannica.com.