Thursday, July 02, 2015

What Bird Was That?

I was out at the clothesline when a sudden woosh of wings by my ear made me look - and there was a brownish buff coloured bird with two heads - one of which looked extremely shocked and the other which was a darker colour - zipping past at an incredible speed. A moment later after blinking and shaking my head, and as it disappeared behind the neighbour's roof, I realised it was in fact two birds, with the shocked lower bird a dove that had been plucked out of the air by a not all that much bigger raptor.

I went inside and got my trusty bird book - The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight - and discovered that the raptor was a peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus.

It proved a little difficult to find a photo with the colouring of our local birds - their heads tend to be lighter coloured than many - so here's an illustration from Birds of Prey, Prang's Natural History Series for Children by Norman Allison Calkins, published in 1878, which is fairly close to it. A handsome fellow, don't you think?

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised because there is ample habitat for falcons in the bushland surrounding the suburb where I live. Within a few minutes walk there are two golf courses with bush areas - one even has a resident mob of kangaroos - and two large expanses of bushland reserve with wetlands that would provide excellent hunting for a smallish raptor. The thing is we don't often see them away from the bushland so I guess this one must have worked out that doves are in plentiful supply here.

This video gives you some idea of the incredible speed a peregrine falcon can reach


Jo said...

Wonderful birds. They were endangered at one time, not sure how they stand today.

Helen V. said...

I think they're on the way back, Jo, but they were never very plentiful.