A Visit from a Peregrine Falcon

by Larry Jordan on February 7, 2012

Peregrine Falcon (Falcon peregrinus) photos by Larry Jordan

This past weekend I had a photo blind reserved at Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. When I arrived at the blind about an hour before dawn, as is required, I was not too excited. As the sun rose above the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I saw nothing but American Coots and a few Greater White-fronted Geese. All the other birds were way off in the distance.

I did get some good looks at Lincoln Sparrows and Song Sparrows that were foraging behind the blind, and eventually a Marsh Wren hopped up right next to the west facing blind window and gave me some great poses!

However, as the sun rose higher in the sky and it got a bit warmer, many birds headed in my direction.

The thrill of the day for me came a little past 11:00 when I looked up to see a Peregrine Falcon (Falcon peregrinus) perched on the snag directly in front of the blind! I grabbed the video camera first.

Then I began taking photographs of this beautiful raptor (click on images for full sized photos).

As you can see the bird has its back to me, facing North, into the wind. In my experience, raptors seem to prefer facing into the wind when perching.

Luckily for me this Peregrine Falcon was very cooperative to the point of giving me my favorite raptor pose, the “I’m watching you” pose, or what I call the “raptor’s stare.”

He came back about four hours later (yes, I waited in the blind hoping he would come back) and got a few more full bodied shots.

Before he took of with those rapid, powerful wing beats.

I wrote a post nearly three years ago on the Peregrine Falcon telling of their history and their amazing come back from near extinction in 1970 with only 39 breeding pairs left in the United States. They are a truly astounding species deserving our highest reverence.

As this National Geographic video shows, they are also the fastest animal on, or above, the planet.

To see more great bird photos from around the world, check out World Bird Wednesday.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

TexWisGirl February 7, 2012 at 7:50 am

you got some great shots of him! what a beauty.


heyBJK February 7, 2012 at 8:27 am

Love these shots! Great job! Your time paid off.


Boom & Gary February 7, 2012 at 8:53 am

He is a beauty!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.


Martha Z February 7, 2012 at 9:05 am

Wonderful series, Larry. I love watching raptors and saw my first peregrine at Colusa. Beautiful birds!


John February 7, 2012 at 9:26 am

Great post. I know the excitement of getting video as you did. Thanks too for the NG video. Wow!


Mia McPherson February 7, 2012 at 10:15 am

What a wonderful experience this must have been Larry!


Ingrid February 7, 2012 at 10:53 am

Beautiful work, Larry — and hard won with time and effort. Great post and videos, too. Is your video camera a DSLR or other? So clear and pretty. And … is the reserved blind near the road at Delevan? Or do they open a few marsh blinds to photogs during the off-season?

btw: I have yet to capture a Peregrine on digital, and missed the best opportunity of my life by not having my telephoto with me on a grocery run. Right in the parking lot, a Peregrine was chasing pigeons around. She never got a pigeon, but she flew and perched right over my car. Doh!


Andrew February 7, 2012 at 11:10 am

A wonderful bird to see and read about..


Mick February 7, 2012 at 11:36 am

Great photos and definitely waiting all that time in the blind to see this bird so close.


springman February 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Consumate post Larry! You waited four hours for your falcon to return!? You richly deserve these exqusite captures. The detail is a priveledge to see.
Great stuff Sir!


Robert Mortensen February 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Gorgeous Larry!


Larry February 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

@Theresa I agree, he or she is beautiful

@Brian thanks

@Gary thank you

@Martha I remember your post and I didn’t realize that there was a Peregrine there. I’m always glad to discover new possibilities for spotting these raptors

@John you are welcome. Sometimes I forget to get the video in my excitement but this time I shot the video first because the camcorder was right next to me

@Mia, I’m sure you know exactly what this thrill is like!

@Ingrid I hate it when that happens! But when it does, I simply watch the bird intently until it leaves and soak up the beauty of the moment. You will get another chance, I know you will.

The camcorder is a Panasonic HDC-SD90 High Definition Camcorder and I love it! As for the blind at Delevan, it is off Four Mile Road (a gravel road that boarders the refuge) and is the only photo blind there. There are four blinds available to reserve in the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. All the information is here.

@Andrew thanks!

@Mick it was well worth the wait!

@Dave thank you very much. I stayed in the blind all day. The only other way to see birds at this refuge is from the roads that encircle it. They have no auto loop, trails or viewing platform.

@Robert thanks!


Eileen February 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Larry, very cool photos of the Peregrine. And I enjoyed the video.


Wanda February 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Your patience paid off magnificently! Great video.


Ingrid February 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm

” … when it does, I simply watch the bird intently until it leaves and soak up the beauty of the moment. ”

So true, Larry. A singular focus on acquisition gets us in trouble. 🙂


holdingmoments February 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm

An amazing bird Larry, and great shots.
Loved both the videos too.


Modesto Viegas (Portugal) February 8, 2012 at 6:13 am

Great portrait!!!!


Kelly February 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Loved this post, Larry. It’s been one of my all-time favorites on your blog! Awesome photos…


Pat February 9, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Fabulous photos!


Liz February 10, 2012 at 2:04 am

Oh WOW Larry! What an awesome opportunity and experience. All your shots are brilliant and that shot of the “raptor stare” is fantastic (my favourite too). Love the close ups and that last one with him almost in flight is awesome.


Carletta February 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Sitting all day in a blind requires a lot of patience and yours certainly paid off in these excellent captures!

Thanks for the info you left on my turkey post. I really believe the coloring is a result of breeding with domestic turkeys rather than leucism. I’m still researching the surrounding area to see if that’s possible.


NatureFootstep February 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm

a beautiful bird indeed. Thanks for sharing this.


Kate February 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Great video. Your patience paid off magnificently.


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