Peregrine means wanderer, but these falcons capture prey with the pinpoint accuracy of a guided weapon. From above, they dive for flying shorebirds and strike at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. When they dive, they can reach some of the fastest speeds known to all animals. Their faces are painted in blue gray sideburns outlined in rust, almost as if they got these colors diving through the blue and sunlight of the sky.
After they catch their prey in mid-air, they fly off to a perch hundreds of feet off the ground.
Peregrines may migrate thousands of miles but always return to the same aerie, or nest, on a high, sharp-angled place. This could be as dramatic as Morro Rock at the central coast of California or as drab as an office building in San Jose. Up high and with some right angles seem to be the requirements. Grandbaby birds seem to return to the same aeries as their ancestors. The photo below shows a peregrine and her aerie.
From these high places, peregrines can launch their assaults on other birds.
The photo below shows a female peregrine (larger than a male) resting after she ferociously feasted on her catch. My daughter took it with a special adapter that connected a borrowed scope with her iPhone's camera.
Peregrine falcons have the strength to fly from one continent to another and the precision to dive right to a bird at 200 mph. But they almost died out in the United States last century. A pesticide called DDT poisoned adults and made the walls of eggs so thin that young chicks couldn't grow. I'm writing this in the weeks coming up to Easter, and it's terrible to think that at one time, we poisoned our environment so much that what was meant to protect baby birds no longer could.
Thanks to campaigns to ban DDT, peregrine falcons now thrive once again, diving out from skyscrapers and craggy rocks.