A Peregrine Falcon at Breakfast

By Dan Weisz

Last week I saw a Peregrine Falcon enjoying its breakfast two mornings in a row on top of a telephone pole at Skyline Drive, west of Alvernon. Peregrines have very large territories, and this bird has been seen over the years perched or feasting along Skyline Drive and Swan Road in the mornings. The past few winters these birds have had more of a presence in my neighborhood but this year I’ve only seen them a few times. I don’t know whether their territory and schedule has changed, or whether my schedule has changed. In any case, it was a real treat to watch them at work.

Peregrines are the fastest animals on the planet, with their “stooping” speed having been measured at over 240 miles per hour. They use that speed to surprise their prey, virtually appearing out of nowhere to catch the unsuspecting victim. Peregrines are bird eaters. In the following photos, you see a peregrine (on two different mornings) plucking and consuming a mourning dove. Many of the photos are similar, but I am fascinated by this glimpse of Mother Nature at work.

A mouthful of feathers must be irritating.

Getting to the good stuff. You can see his left foot holding down the prey.

Feathers flying.

More plucking. I remember watching my grandmother plucking a chicken by hand as she prepared it for Friday night’s chicken soup.

Falcons have very long toes. They use those toes for wrapping around the birds they catch.

And apparently they also use their long toes and talons for picking their beak!