Stephen Kirkpatrick

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Animal Olympics

I have had the privilege over the past two weeks to observe, photograph, and even hold a peregrine falcon. I discovered two nesting pair in the area where I have been summering in Quebec for 33 years. I have never seen peregrines there before.

Baby peregrine that fell out of nest

The Peregrine is renowned for its speed. This bird of prey reaches over 200 mph during its characteristic hunting stoop (high speed dive), making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom. If there were an "animal olympics," the Peregrine would win the gold medal. 

Immature Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

The Peregrine's breeding range includes land regions from the Arctic tundra to the tropics. It can be found nearly everywhere on earth. This makes the Peregrine the world's most widespread raptor, and one of the most widely found bird species. Its diet consists almost exclusively of medium-sized birds, but Peregrine will occasionally hunt small mammals, small reptiles, or even insects. The Peregrine falcon became an endangered species, but since the ban on DDT from the early 1970s, populations have recovered, supported by large-scale protection of nesting places and releases to the wild.

What a privilege I have had, sharing my summer with these olympic champions.

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