So I’m breaking with protocol here to post these photos of a most glorious Peregrine Falcon we caught and banded yesterday (indulging my bird nerdiness here today). My 2nd “PEFA” (the official scientific abbreviation) I’ve been up close and personal with in 12 years of banding with Golden Gate Raptor Observatory in the Marin Headlands (check out GGRO.org). Using pigeons to attract the hawks, and passive nets to catch them, we are out there from August through November. We only catch a couple of PEFAs a year, as they rarely fall for our seductions. Note the wings, crossed over his back —they are long and pointed. And the enormous eyes that can spot things from great distances (I especially love seeing their nostrils up close, as they have small cones or baffles inside them so that when they are stooping [diving] on a little songbird for lunch, going 200MPH+, they can still breathe).
The 2nd photo is of the official “color band” which we put on this young male’s leg. If you see a bird in the air or perched and can get the band number, please let GGRO know! (A tall order, as these acrobatic flyers swoop and zoom by at high speeds.)
If you are still reading this, you are also officially a bird nerd and here’s another fun fact — the talons in this pic are pretty relaxed but I’m told that mid-air they ball them up and punch their prey in flight (like pigeons), knocking them out. The prey then falls to the ground for the PEFA’s next meal. You may be thinking, Eeeew! Brutal! But hey, falcons have to eat too.
If this fascinates you, come on out to Hawk Hill in the headlands and see the birds fly overhead. Right about now through early October is the “peak” time for migration. At around noon on Hawk Hill on weekends, a docent may have a live hawk to show you. Most of the birds we catch are “juvenile” (first year) birds, Cooper’s Hawks and Sharp-shinned hawks and Red tails.
left photo taken by Ryan Bourbour