The shaheen falcon is a subspecies of the peregrine falcon found mainly in the Indian subcontinent. The shaheen is a small and powerful-looking falcon with blackish upperparts, rufous underparts with fine, dark streaks, and white on the throat.
The shaheen is usually seen as a solitary bird, or in pairs on cliffs and rock pinnacles. Peregrines typically mate for life. Because of the size difference between a male and a female, a mated pair generally hunt different prey species. It is adapted to taking prey in the air and can achieve a speed of 240 kmh in level flight; when diving after prey it can exceed speeds of 320 kmh 200 mph. Shaheens mostly hunt small birds, though medium-sized birds such as pigeons and parrots are also taken.
In Pakistani literature, the shaheen has a special association with the poetry of the countrys national poet, Allama Iqbal. It also appears on the official seal of the Pakistan Air Force logo, and is used as a nickname for the Pakistani cricket team.
Photo by Ullas G Kalappura