by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Feathers on the Ground"

Peregrine Falcon

        It’s true! Surprises are common when you go ‘birding’. Our Field Trip to look for birds took us to the Parowan Gap. The Parowan Gap is an awesome place that looks like an earthquake fault, torn through the middle of a small mountain range.

        At the Parowan Gap parking lot and along the road to the east where we were walking, we found lots and lots of feathers, from different bird species. Hummmmm! What happened? It looked like someone had been plucking feathers from a chicken, designated for a BBQ. But, there was no sign of a peregrine falconsBBQ. Everyone had their own reason for the feathers on the ground, but we soon saw the real answer to the feather mystery on the very top of a cliff face, overlooking the road. There were two Peregrine Falcons. One was busily plucking away the feathers from a destined dinner (it wasn’t chicken) while the second Peregrine watched and waited. The feathers had been blown down to the parking lot day after day from the Peregrine Falcon’s cliff top table. When the meal was ready, we saw the two birds return to their nest hidden in a cliff ledge just feet away from the plucking sight. Were there any babies to be fed, or were they just taking the catch of the day home? It’s a great find to see one Peregrine, but to see two, and in action, was exhilarating.

        The Peregrine Falcon was formerly endangered until it was reintroduced in a good many regions. The Peregrine Falcon has pointed wings, narrow tail, and quick, powerful wingbeats. It is a small 16 inches, but has the ability to dive at speeds up to 200 mph. Using its great speed, the Falcon delivers a powerful blow to its prey with a half-closed foot. It retrieves the bird either in midair or after it falls to the ground. Prey can be anything from duck, pheasant or pigeon to meadowlark, wren or bluebird, etc. etc.

        Peregrines have been seen throughout southern Utah. If you would like to encounter this magnificent Falcon, come along on one of our Red Cliffs Audubon Field Trip. Next one is Saturday, April 13, 2013. We are heading to the Henderson Ponds. Meet at the BLM parking lot at 7:00 a.m. For information about birds or Field Trips call 435 673-0996. Public is welcome. Marilyn Davis is this week’s artist.

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