UPDATE: I clearly don’t know my own favorite bird by sight! I was corrected by numerous readers who told me that this was NOT a peregrine. As reader Rob said in the comments:
That’s not a peregrine, that’s a Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus (not to be confused with American Kestrel). An adult peregrine would be slate grey from the top of head to the tip of the tail.
Peregrine falcons may be my favorite birds. They are gorgeous and amazing hunters, able to dive at more than 200 mph when hunting (“stooping”). Last year I had a “peregrine week,” in which I posted videos of the birds every day; you can find the posts here. And I still recommend The Peregrine, by John A. Baker as the best nature book of any sort I’ve ever read. If you love good writing and animals, this is a must-read. (You can now order an expanded edition, with ancillary writings by Baker.)
Reader Benjamin Haller sent a series of photos of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus), including raising chicks, copulation, and hthe rescue of a fallen chick. His notes:
The back story: we are living in an old Provençal-style house called a mas, on the outskirts of Montpellier, France. A pair of falcons is nesting in an old attic window of the house; our landlord tells us they nest there every year. This year there were originally four chicks. One got pushed out of the nest by its siblings fairly recently; we found it and took it to a bird rescue facility southwest of Montpellier, where it will be raised with other falcons that will teach it to hunt (a learned behavior, apparently, or so they said). The other three are getting pretty big; in less than two weeks, I am told they will migrate to Africa for the summer.
Chicks barely visible in the nest:
Parent entering to feed them (is a feather missing?):
Here are two photos from my landlord, whose name is Martine Fize; she is happy for you to post them. To me, the one with the two of them mating on top of the head of Bacchus is the winner.
The mating photo is fantastic, no? Bacchus doesn’t look pleased. The next one is also great.
The house, which used to be part of a vineyard, has an old head of Bacchus on the roofline, looking out over the back yard, which the falcons like to perch on.
And the chick rescue:
The chick was the fourth in the nest, and was pushed out of its siblings; it was unhurt, and is now being raised by a French governmental agency entrusted with rescuing birds and, I think, other wild animals.
Here’s my wife’s photo of the chick that got pushed out. The hands in the photo belong to the woman at the rescue facility; she was checking for broken bones and other damage, and pronounced the chick unhurt despite falling from quite a high window. It’s good to be fluffy.