Peregrine Falcons

     My first encounter with a Peregrine Falcon was the day I met Beth. I was hiking down The Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park, along a ridge where you could look down both sides. I "felt" something watching me and when I looked to my left there was this bird "eyeing" me. I had never seen a bird like this before, flying even with my head
, just watching me. It felt strange.
     A day or two later, at the camp site, I was bending over emptying the water out of the cooler when I heard this sound like a jet plane. Planes are rare in Big Bend, especially jets. When I looked up I saw several small birds fall from a flock. I suspected some kind of bird of prey but wasn't quite sure. I started asking and reading about birds of prey and discovered that the one I'd seen on the ridge was probably the first Peregrine Falcon returning to its rookery for the season. At the time, February 1983, the Park Department was expecting the return of five pair to their rookeries. I have been intrigued by these birds ever since. The Chinese used them to hunt with. they are or were at one time (before DDT) found throughout the world. They have been known to land on ships at sea, far from any land. These days they are being introduced and thriving in cities. Seems pigeons are a natural food source for them.

Lost Mine Trail View - Photo by Steven Harmon

     My third encounter was in the Davis Mountains of Texas, northeast of El Paso. Beth and I were hiking the rim of a canyon where we could look down to the floor. We had been informed that some areas were forbidden to hikers because of nesting Peregrines. We were looking down on a Golden Eagle soaring through the canyon when it was attacked by a Peregrine. When the falcon would get within a few feet of the eagle, the eagle would flip over on its back bearing its claws skyward at the falcon. this went on until the falcon drove the eagle away. Probably had a nest close by. Anyway, I have grown to like these birds.




Here is a link to a Peregrine Falcon site.


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