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The Shorebird Shopper

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus

Equipped with bony tubercles in their nostrils to slow down air flow, nictitating membrane (third eyelids) to protect their eyes from debris and a tomial tooth (notch in the beak) to sever their prey’s cervical vertebrae is the Peregrine Falcon. While their average traveling speed is below 55 mph, the stoop (high-speed dive) has been clocked at over 200 mph… making them the fastest animals on the planet! They can be found in coastal areas, mountain ranges and other open habitats, including large cities. They’re probably the most urban adapted bird of prey in North America. They often nest in scrapes on ledges of transmission towers, skyscrapers and cathedrals. Having the keys to the city certainly has benefits...rock doves! These pigeon pouncer’s diet primarily consists of birds but they’ll occasionally eat fish and mammals.

In 1970, Peregrine’s were federally listed as endangered due to the pesticide DDT. Nearly thirty years later, the U.S. ban of DDT and recovery efforts, they were removed from the endangered species list. What a success story! Falco (falcon) peregrinus (wandering), the scientific name for this raptor is quite fitting. According to The Cornell Lab, “tundra-nesting falcons winter in South America, may travel 15,000 miles a year”, that’s long migration, they truly are wanderers! They’re also used in falconry for their exceptional... well everything!

It was such a unique and fascinating experience photographing this PEFA on a jetty. I’m fairly certain it was shorebird shopping. They are historically known as “duck hawks”.

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