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Peregrines at Torrey Pines        Images © Mark A. Chappell

The peregrines in these images breed on a seaside cliff in Torrey Pines State Park, directly above a very popular beach.   The site is close to good foraging areas, including the beach and a marsh full of shorebirds, and urban areas with pigeons, feral parrots, and assorted small birds.   Abundant food provides for healthy offspring, and in late May of 2012, when I took these photos, three recently-fledged young birds were flying about the breeding site.
       The photos show the adults -- with steel-gray backs and barred undersides -- and the brownish young with streaked bellies.   The adult female is larger and more heavily marked than the male.   A docent told me that this female is extremely protective and aggressive around the nest, and has killed several brown pelicans that strayed too close.   Peregrines are fierce predators and superlative fliers, but I never would have imagined that they would have the ability -- let alone, the daring -- to take on such huge opponents.
       Photos of these falcons from early 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; fill-in flash on sitting juveniles (2012)