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Peregrines at Torrey Pines        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Peregrines can be fairly tolerant of people, and given a good nest site they will set up a territory close to large numbers of humans.   Many nest on tall buildings in busy cities; another example is the pair in these pictures, which occupy an orange-yellowish sandstone cliff above a very popular beach in La Jolla, a small city just north of San Diego.   The site -- in Torrey Pines State Park -- is close to good foraging areas, including beaches and a salt marsh full of shorebirds, and urban areas with pigeons, feral parrots, and assorted small birds.   Because of its accessibility, many photographers visit these falcons and these are some of my images.   (I think by far the best photos of San Diego area peregrines are from Will Sooter).
       I took these pictures early in the breeding season, in February.   The female (above left; larger and more heavily marked underneath) lurked about the cliff, while the smaller, paler male (above right; carrying a collared dove in the photo below at right) periodically would swoop in with a prey item.   Sometimes he gave it directly to the female, but often he would perch on a rock and eat most or all of the prey, seemingly oblivious of the insistent calls of his mate.   Several times a day they would copulate (we saw this just once); a quick maneuver performed on the clifftop with much balancing and flapping by the male.

Photographs of these pair (and their young) later in the breeding season are here.  Other pictures of flying peregrines are here and here; photos of perched adults are here and here, and perched juveniles are on this page.

  • Canon 1D4, 800 mm IS lens (2012)