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Neat!! Will the falcons stay around all year? as in are they going to be a permanent fixture? Also you didn't say how many fish Mr. Jenkins put in the boat? If your not busy this week sift through your email inbox.
Shawn - After you left yesterday I heard a screech and immediately told my Mom that it was one of those Peregrines. We looked for it and saw it sitting in the window of a box tucked up in the girders. I can't think of any reason for that big box to be there other than for the falcons. Then a second falcon started calling and the two were screeching away up there. The sound under the bridge was very loud. I was telling the other boat that it is the fastest bird in the world and they were awed as well. You just don't see that every day. I drive the bridge every day and know those falcones are there and still only see them a couple times a year. Once saw one take out a pigeon that was flying next to my car. Came out of nowhere and, pooof, took that pigeon out at 160 mph. Incredible!
Last edited by pkeating; 02-27-2012 at 09:06 AM.
Reason: Read original post and realized location was a secret
From 1966 to 1989 I was a licensed Falconer In MD, during this time I had the opertunity to observe other Falconers flying their Peregrines at quarry, or to the lure. The falcons were always (to me) one of the highlights of any of the falconers get togethers I attended.
There have been peregrines either nesting or seasonally inhabiting the bay Bridge since the late 1970s. Additionally some of the other high bridges over our states waters have there own resident Peregrines. My fishing partner "SteveL" (a wildlife professional) and I have seen them on the rt 450 br at the Naval Academy as well as the Pax river br at Solomons, and a few other places in between.
It can also be noted that there are more than a few nesting pairs in Balto and wash DC as well as the more famous ones eg: Rhett and Scarlett of baltimore.
During the fall I would spend hours in a blind along the known flyways trying to capture Hawks, Falcons or eagles for banding or training for falconry. The only birds that I myself kept were Red-Tailed hawks because they are plentiful, easy to train and extremley hardy. Looking back thru my trapping notes I can see that certain birds that always make the "all caps" list were Golden Eagles. Northern Goshawks, and Peregrines. With an unusual (because of the size of the lure) Kestral, Sharpshin, and even a Screech owl thrown in.
Peregrins have been known to take herons and other larger birds,, and are quite fearless, but if you compare an F-16 to a Spad it becomes easy to see why. Peregrines are not intimidated by Eagles or other larger birds of prey though their nestlings are taken by them from time to time. A healthy adult falcon has little to fear from other raptors in the air.
If a falcon is not yelling or pursuing its lunch they are not really standouts for identifaction as there flight silhouette and pattern looks very much like the Gulls in there prefered habitat.
Thanks to mr. Kimbro for allowing a geezer a few steps down the dank portals of his memory.
Hope my wordiness is not considered hijacking someones thread, as I find it difficult, once started, to stop.
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Fascinating stuff from both Pat and Piscophile. Thanks for sharing that information. I used to do a lot of hiking when I lived in the mountains and one of my favorite trail in the Smokys is the Alum Cave's Bluff path up to Mt. LeConte. Along the way there is a good view of a knife-edge ridge where peregrines nest. I had the good fortune to see them soar and hunt there on several occasions. I haven't seen them hunt at the bridge, but I have noticed them for the past 4 years there, usually this time of year but sometimes in the fall. There are usually more pigeons on the east side, and that's where they usually are. Do you think they stay all year?
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thanks for the heads up, Shawn.
my job takes me to the roof tops of many buildings in downtown Baltimore and i have often seen pigeon and other songbird "leftovers"
scattered around the roof.
pretty cool that they have adapted to our urban landscapes.
last summer we had an "aerial takedown" of a dove in our back yard.
originally thought it was a sharpshin or other small hawk but i've heard since that hawks are less likely to hunt in the air than falcons.
we're only a couple miles from downtown Baltimore...possibly a falcon at work?
Shawn, That's really cool. I'm with you, that fishing is not just about the fish, but also seeing all the sights that the wild world can provide. Thanks for the report and pic. Considering that peregrines were almost extinct only a few years ago, it's great to see them in the wild even if its ona bridge.
Harrisburg PA has had a program for years in some tall building to watch over nests and see that the young survive.
Mr. Kimbro: Generally speaking Peregrines are very migratory, some of the falcons from the tundra areas have been known to visit S America.
Since this pair is here in Feb it has quite likely been around all winter. It is not unusual to see juveniles of most raptor species in our area since our winters are not particularly harsh on avg.
During the winter some raptors become more nomadic than migratory, just drifting around looking for supper, and a place to hang out. Pairs that have an established nesting territory will frequently return earlier, maybe to defend it or possibly because the food is there.
Md has always been known as an overwintering area for raptors especially Redtailed hawks any jaunt thru the Eastern shore should bring numerous sightings, on power line poles, the ground, and billboards too.
During the 70s the Peregrine was classified as an endangered species and became off limits to Falconers.
The falconers that already posessed one could keep it (grandfathered) but could not replace it if it escaped or died. Most falconers would rather lose a parent than the bird.
Dr. Tom Cade of Cornell university helped start the Peregrine fund, and with Falcons donated (temporarily) to his care, established captive breeding as an almost production line process. Turns out that the birds are not that much different than chickens. Control the Photoperiod, give them ample food, and reduce stressors ( People peeking in all day) and they just did what comes naturally.
In some cases they had more Hen falcons then males (Tiercels) so when paired birds laid a clutch of eggs the clutch woud be spirited away and given to one of the lovelorn females or in some cases other species of hawk. These surrogate mothers usually worked just fine, You have to see a large female Redtailed hawk delicately feeding another tiny chicks of another species. Its reminiscant of a Norse Viking with a kitten.
Coopers hawks are very talented, and persistant aerial hunters SteveL and I watched one at the sussky RR bridge stoop (dive) a couple hundred feet in pursuit of a pigeon, after missing that one she returned to the high tension power pole to await another chance. This behavior suggests that this is a common hunting strategy for Her. (the females are considerably larger than the males in all species of raptor)--- that I know of.
All Raptors ( except Vultures) are capable of aerial hunting and will use the technique when the oppurtunity is present
Jeez I could talk hawks all day in fact my wife has to (butt in) sometimes or I monopolize the conversational topics. hope this info is useful and pleasurable to you.
Last edited by Piscophile; 02-27-2012 at 04:49 PM.
I have seen only one but it was in an unlikely spot... two years ago I was sitting in my truck finishing a mountain of paperwork at the end of the day as the large construction site had calmed down... I was enjoying the moment of silence and starting to plan my day for tomorrow when a loud thud on the windshield accompanied by a flash of white disturbed the silence... I looked around and did not see anything, then I looked down by the front wheel of the truck and there I saw a large, darkly colored, raptor type bird sitting on top of a mature pigeon. The large bird was delivering the death blows to the pigeon. I watched in amazment... totally awestruck... After a few moments the large predator turned and looked up at me and realized my presence and very calmly grabed the pigeon in it's talons and flew away... It was mesmerizing to watch such a great animal so close... My first thought was that it was an imature Eagle... that night I did some research and believe it to be a Perigrin Falcon... When it flew away it did not show any fear being so close to me... More like disgust in being so close to me. That memory is burned into my brain!