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Peregrine falcon        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Peregrines are probably the fastest of all animals under their own power; in a dive they can exceed 150 mph.   They have captured the imagination of people for thousands of years and are considered the ultimate falconer's bird.   Like several other North American raptors they were hard-hit by pesticide contamination in the 1960s and 1970s, but are now recovering (notably, with the help of captive rearing projects managed by The Peregrine Fund).   Adults (this page) are dark slate-blue above and barred below.   Juveniles are brownish above and streaked below.   At all ages, peregrines have a characteristic stiff, powerful flight and a dark 'helmet' that permits identification at long distances.
      All of these falcons were photographed in California. The bird in many of these images spent the summer of 2010 at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area near Riverside; it seemed to specialize on small egrets, but in many of these images it is eating a long-billed dowitcher (I think; hard to tell when mostly plucked and beheaded).  More images of this individual are here.   Another page shows a second-year female with a white-faced ibis.   Other images are here.
      Peregrines are quite willing to substitute buildings for their more natural cliff habitat, and the adult female halfway down the page was perched on the bell tower at UC Riverside, where I work.   The tower is high (48 meters; 161 feet) and the bird was almost at the top, so these images are highly cropped.   The peregrine on the dead tree is a male; he was quite small (Bolsa Chica wetlands in coastal Orange County).

  • Canon 7D, 7D2, or 1D4; 800 mm IS lens, most with 1.4X converter, fill-in flash (2010, 2012, 2013, 2017)