Monday, November 28, 2011

Peregrine Falcon

 Meet a new neighbor. 
 If you look closer, you can see that he is a peregrine falcon.  Peregrine falcons are ferocious.  They grow to be the size of crows, about 15 inches tall with a 40 inch wingspan.  Their size is not imposing, but they are fighters!  They are the fastest birds in the world, flying over 175 mph to catch their prey. The females are the bigger of the species and they hunt other birds - crows, meadowlarks, ducks, pheasants etc. They catch their prey in the air and grab it with their powerful claws.
Due to DDT, falcons were completely eradicated east of the Mississippi in the 1960s. In the 1970's DDT use was halted and by 1979 the Eastern Peregrine Recovery Plan was enacted to restore the population to the eastern USA. A pair will mate for life, with both the male and female catching prey.  The female then feeds the prey to the baby birds.
 Here is our falcon when it noticed me photographing it.  He (or she) dove off the ledge and flew.
 He was so graceful and dramatic.
 And before I knew it, he was an arms length from me!  He veered off at the last moment and I captured this amazing profile!
Falcon (top) defending his turf.
The next day, I found out what it would look like if he were fighting me!  A turkey vulture flew into his territory.  The falcon immediately started squawking. Then, he dove off the ledge and went into action.
 He hit the vulture, circled back and hit him again.
 And the vulture, who lost a few feathers, flew away.  The falcon returned to his ledge as if nothing happened.
And here is my drawing of him (or her).

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