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Banded Peregrine Falcon Devouring Pigeon

Posted on Jan 18, 2015

One of the most outrageously spectacular and breath-taking winter bird sightings you can have is, in my opinion, the Peregrine Falcon. As the fastest animal on the Earth the Peregrine is already in a class of its own, and if you have never seen one stooping on shorebirds, waterfowl or other coastal and open-country birds you are missing out on one of the most unbelievable happenings on the planet. The raw power and sheer speed these birds display is literally unmatched.

After recovering from decimation via DDT the Peregrine Falcon has begun to reconquer our landscape, moving into cities and enjoying urban buildings and skyscrapers that mimic rock faces and steep cliffs. You will note the bird in the photo below, which I took on January 3, 2009 on a barrier beach in Stratford, Connecticut, is banded with a black #2 over a green A.

Peregrine Falcon female banded-

This female was one of two nestlings banded from a nest in downtown Providence, Rhode Island on May 8, 2006. That information in itself is about as cool as birding can get! However, that photo was taken after she had a meal, devouring a pigeon over the course of approximately 10-12 minutes while being battered by powerful and icy northwest winds (you can see how fast the feathers fly off the prey and how it flaps in the sustained wind and hear the ferocity). This video is extremely graphic and shows her devouring her meal, ripping apart the pigeon and cleaning up afterwards, working over her talons and stretching out her legs and wings. Be sure to watch in HD!

Also note how she is facing into that wind, keeping low and constantly looking around while eating in such an exposed position. She does not care that vehicles and people are passing beneath her from her perch and no birds end up harassing her.

Peregrine Falcon female banded-2

It was a very memorable experience for me, and I certainly wonder what happened to her in the years since our encounter. Please remember that you can report any banded birds with readable information to the Bird Banding Laboratory at reportband.gov, and if you do you will receive background information and a hearty thanks just as I did. If you are interested in more winter birding check out our Winter Bird Forecasts with Audubon Connecticut here on our website and at WXedge.com.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator