Reader Bruce sent us some real peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus; I’m still embarrassed for having called a kestrel a peregrine). These look real to me! (Click photos to enlarge.)
This spring I wanted to explore the coast between Santa Cruz and San Francisco and in the process stumbled on a wonderfully accessible and observable Perergrine Falcon nest. The nest was in a small cavity on a cliff face but instead of facing out to sea, where it would have been hidden from view, the nest was located where the cliff took a sharp corner so it was visible from the adjacent cliff tops. I discovered the nest just as the three chicks were learning to fly. On my first visits the chicks were still in the nest but they were soon flying well and they then spent their time on the top of the cliff waiting for a parent to return with food.
Below:The adult male Peregrine Falcon perched near the nest. I could distinguish the male and female adults based on size (female larger) and plumage (male plumage was a little crisper). On my first few visits, one of the two parents was always in attendance and was perched near the nest but not at the actual nest ledge. I suspect they avoid spending time at the nest because the chicks would mob and harass them for food. The one time I did see a parent bring in prey the chicks got pretty frenzied about the possibility of dinner.
Below: The adult female landing at her favorite perch spot close to the nest ledge:
Below: An adult flying near the nest:
Below. The three chicks squabble over a Mourning Dove carcass. An adult delivered the dove to the nest but left immediately and the three chicks then jostled over control of the prey item:
Below: One of the chicks practices flapping its wings at the top of the cliff: