A Visit from a Peregrine Falcon

by Larry Jordan on February 7, 2012

Peregrine Falcon (Falcon peregrinus) photos by Larry Jordan

This past weekend I had a photo blind reserved at Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. When I arrived at the blind about an hour before dawn, as is required, I was not too excited. As the sun rose above the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I saw nothing but American Coots and a few Greater White-fronted Geese. All the other birds were way off in the distance.

I did get some good looks at Lincoln Sparrows and Song Sparrows that were foraging behind the blind, and eventually a Marsh Wren hopped up right next to the west facing blind window and gave me some great poses!

However, as the sun rose higher in the sky and it got a bit warmer, many birds headed in my direction.

The thrill of the day for me came a little past 11:00 when I looked up to see a Peregrine Falcon (Falcon peregrinus) perched on the snag directly in front of the blind! I grabbed the video camera first.

Then I began taking photographs of this beautiful raptor (click on images for full sized photos).

As you can see the bird has its back to me, facing North, into the wind. In my experience, raptors seem to prefer facing into the wind when perching.

Luckily for me this Peregrine Falcon was very cooperative to the point of giving me my favorite raptor pose, the “I’m watching you” pose, or what I call the “raptor’s stare.”

He came back about four hours later (yes, I waited in the blind hoping he would come back) and got a few more full bodied shots.

Before he took of with those rapid, powerful wing beats.

I wrote a post nearly three years ago on the Peregrine Falcon telling of their history and their amazing come back from near extinction in 1970 with only 39 breeding pairs left in the United States. They are a truly astounding species deserving our highest reverence.

As this National Geographic video shows, they are also the fastest animal on, or above, the planet.

To see more great bird photos from around the world, check out World Bird Wednesday.

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