Falco peregrinus

| 29 Comments

Photograph courtesy of Kathy Donnell, Park Naturalist, Jordanelle State Park, Utah

Falcon.jpg

Falco peregrinus – Peregrine falcon

29 Comments

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe A tercel cartwheeling in pursuit, at five thousand feet I watched rock doves panic off the ground near the Golden Gate All these moments will be lost in time Like tears in rain. Time… To Dive.

“How sweet, fresh meat.”

Lurker #753 said:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe A tercel cartwheeling in pursuit, at five thousand feet I watched rock doves panic off the ground near the Golden Gate All these moments will be lost in time Like tears in rain. Time… To Dive.

Nice. Very, very nice.

The original is one of my all-time favorite movie quotes.

For the last few years a pair of falcons have nested on the San Jose (CA) city hall. A webcam has been set up so the public can watch the little fuzzballs rip and shred the critters mom and dad bring to feed them. See http://www2.ucsc.edu/scpbrg/falconcameraSJ.htm for some historical files.

Simply awesome. What a beautiful animal, what a great shot. Who says we humans are “evolved more”? Can’t even fly!

During an unusual heavy yet windless snow fall in the Wind River valley one morning, I chanced to see Falco peregrinus miss a rosy finch by that much.

The finches were on the snow near the base of an old power pole and were enjoying the eye level presentation of grass seeds waving just inches above the drifts.

I caught the flash of motion quite far from the pole but by the time I turned my head the falcon was just a feather’s width from the deck, laid over on its back, talons forward and mere inches from a startled finch. In the next heartbeat the falcon reached and the talons snapped together around … a couple of tail feathers.

The finch, struggling valiantly for airspeed, escaped with slightly more dignity than the falcon, who made an rare inverted, tail-forward landing in the powder, ground looping at least once.

When the cloud of snow settled the bird was standing there, wings drooping and beak agape. After a good round of shaking and scratching, it gave the pole a measuring assessment and ascended easily to its top. And then, as if this was the umpteenth time something like this had happened that day, little Falco ruffed up his feathers, drew his head deep between its wings and sighed in resignment.

The snow continued to fall throughout the day and the falcon stayed on that pole until mid afternoon when the light began to fade. I remember thinking how much more comfortable he would have been on my side of the window. And I thought that I’d felt exactly like he looked like on one or more occasions. And I also thought, as I have many times, that it is not uncommon to understand the mood of an animal by simply watching it like you’d watch a person. Body language is spoken by all us critters.

Gorgeous little carnivore. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s speculating how the eyes of the photographer would taste…

Crudely Wrott said: I caught the flash of motion quite far from the pole but by the time I turned my head the falcon was just a feather’s width from the deck, laid over on its back, talons forward and mere inches from a startled finch. In the next heartbeat the falcon reached and the talons snapped together around … a couple of tail feathers.

Reminds me of a redtail hawk capture I saw once. I was at a warehouse where, during breaktime, the rough / tough forklift drivers would sit outside and throw peanuts to the squirrels that lived in the brush outside the fence. One day Baby Squirrel was sitting in the clear, nibbling his peanut, cute as anything, when a redtail rocketed by about an inch off the deck at a hundred miles an hour for the snatch, did a double barrel-roll and then disassembled and ate the squirrel on the top of a light pole in their full view. Did you ever see a group of grown men cry?

Ahh, nature! Red in tooth and claw.

Hey, it’s a livin’.

Hey, wouldn’t Wesley love this picture? (And Rusty would too)

Is Kathy Donnell one of the reasons that SICB chose Utah?

I tip my hat to Kathy Donnell for this terrific photographic of an avian dinosaur. Absolutely amazing. I suppose she used a 500mm lens for this, right?

Its a beautiful bird.

Even when I was a child I cheered for the predator. I remember everyone thinking I was cruel for wanting to see it catch its prey. I don’t believe I was cruel. I was just being compassionate toward the predator.

When a predator feeds on the weak that leaves stronger prey to mate and breed. So the next generation of stronger prey have a better change at surviving. However, then the predator must also grow stronger/faster/whatever. Cheering for the predator is cheering for a more spectacular future.

John Kwok said:

I tip my hat to Kathy Donnell for this terrific photographic of an avian dinosaur.

Ever notice that some folks – by no means necessarily Darwin-bashers or lunatic-fringers – can get very upset at describing birds as a branch of dinosaurs? I find the indignation a little puzzling: “Yeah, just go down the dinosaur corridor, take the theropod branch, birds is just down the hall, can’t miss it.” Where’s the problem?

A falcon has been setting down on the fence outside my window last two days in a row. I even open the window to take shots of him with my new Canon – he just blinks at me and stays there.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Kwok:

Given that kathy donnell is a park naturalist and that’s a very intimate head shot with an aspect ratio typical of a digital point and shoot rather than a digital SLR with a supertelephoto …

I’d put my money on that being an education bird.

Nice photo, though. And nice ‘grine.

I’d put my money on that being an education bird.

Probably a tame bird, but definitely still a long lens. Notice the compressed, relatively narrow field of view in the background, and relative lack of depth of field.

Both are hallmarks of a long, fairly fast, telephoto lens, and a large image sensor.

dhogaza said:

Kwok:

Given that kathy donnell is a park naturalist and that’s a very intimate head shot with an aspect ratio typical of a digital point and shoot rather than a digital SLR with a supertelephoto …

I’d put my money on that being an education bird.

Nice photo, though. And nice ‘grine.

I am not a photography expert by any means, but I would throw my hat in with the educational bird theory. Consider that the back ground is badly out of focus, and if you were using a strong zoom on the camera, then the focal length would be very long, giving you a larger depth of field, which would put the background in better focus. I think. (I could be totally wrong about everything.)

stevaroni said:

I’d put my money on that being an education bird.

Probably a tame bird, but definitely still a long lens. Notice the compressed, relatively narrow field of view in the background, and relative lack of depth of field.

Both are hallmarks of a long, fairly fast, telephoto lens, and a large image sensor.

Hmmm. It seems I really could be totally wrong. shucks.

That photo would have won some competitions over here !!!:

http://www.mnpc.org.uk/Gallery.htm

That’s what I noticed too, as a film-based photographer who has rarely ever needed to use anything as long as a 500 mm lens:

stevaroni said:

I’d put my money on that being an education bird.

Probably a tame bird, but definitely still a long lens. Notice the compressed, relatively narrow field of view in the background, and relative lack of depth of field.

Both are hallmarks of a long, fairly fast, telephoto lens, and a large image sensor.

There are a couple of noted evolutionary biologists, like ornithologist Alan Feduccia and vertebrate paleontologist Larry Martin, who refuse to recognize the theropod ancestry of birds (avian dinosaurs), and, not surprisingly, regard as preposterous the strong likelihood that Tyrannosaurus rex is an extinct close relative to living birds:

mrg (iml8) said:

John Kwok said:

I tip my hat to Kathy Donnell for this terrific photographic of an avian dinosaur.

Ever notice that some folks – by no means necessarily Darwin-bashers or lunatic-fringers – can get very upset at describing birds as a branch of dinosaurs? I find the indignation a little puzzling: “Yeah, just go down the dinosaur corridor, take the theropod branch, birds is just down the hall, can’t miss it.” Where’s the problem?

A falcon has been setting down on the fence outside my window last two days in a row. I even open the window to take shots of him with my new Canon – he just blinks at me and stays there.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

John Kwok said:

There are a couple of noted evolutionary biologists, like ornithologist Alan Feduccia and vertebrate paleontologist Larry Martin, who refuse to recognize the theropod ancestry of birds (avian dinosaurs), and, not surprisingly, regard as preposterous the strong likelihood that Tyrannosaurus rex is an extinct close relative to living birds:

Do they have any strong arguments to rely on? One critic of the idea was mentioning fossils of pre-dinosaurs that supposedly had feathers. I poked around and the oldest examples of feathered dinos I could find was that batch found in China a few years back that included the “four winged bird”. From the information I’ve got the dino-bird relationship would seem about as obvious as anything in the fossil record.

I think there are some who just don’t find the lumping of birds as dinosaurs as particularly useful for their purposes. Fine, define a dino grade without birds and set up birds in their own grade. But there’s no way to leave them out of the dino clade.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

I did some poking around on this … Wikipedia mentions Longisquama as a link to birds at the archosaur level but its reconstruction is controversial.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

The strongest argument I have seen has been from Feduccia - and I had heard this at a talk he presented to the Linnean Society of New York at the American Museum of Natural History about a year and a half ago - regarding the development of avian forelimbs (If I’m not mistaken) - but it’s an argument that, oddly enough, sounds too much like Behe’s inane reasoning on behalf of irreducible complexity. As for Martin he thinks Microraptor - one of those Chinese feathered dinosaurs you’re thinking of - more closely resembled a flying fox, but, unfortunately for him, a team of Chinese and American scientists (including Harvard’s Farish Jenkins, Brown’s Stephen Gatesy - a former Ph. D. student of Jenkins’s - and of course, AMNH’s Mark Norell) conducted a wind tunnel test of Microraptor showing that it could have flown crudely as a living “World War I-era biplane”:

mrg (iml8) said:

John Kwok said:

There are a couple of noted evolutionary biologists, like ornithologist Alan Feduccia and vertebrate paleontologist Larry Martin, who refuse to recognize the theropod ancestry of birds (avian dinosaurs), and, not surprisingly, regard as preposterous the strong likelihood that Tyrannosaurus rex is an extinct close relative to living birds:

Do they have any strong arguments to rely on? One critic of the idea was mentioning fossils of pre-dinosaurs that supposedly had feathers. I poked around and the oldest examples of feathered dinos I could find was that batch found in China a few years back that included the “four winged bird”. From the information I’ve got the dino-bird relationship would seem about as obvious as anything in the fossil record.

I think there are some who just don’t find the lumping of birds as dinosaurs as particularly useful for their purposes. Fine, define a dino grade without birds and set up birds in their own grade. But there’s no way to leave them out of the dino clade.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

John Kwok said:

… but it’s an argument that, oddly enough, sounds too much like Behe’s inane reasoning on behalf of irreducible complexity.

As in “contrived arguments supported by energetic hand-waving and an obvious reluctance to confront inconvenient evidence?”

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Wow! what a wonderful complete accident. Evolution is absolutley amazing! It is so smart.

Probably a tame bird, but definitely still a long lens. Notice the compressed, relatively narrow field of view in the background, and relative lack of depth of field.

hmmm … I took this one at 70mm (wild bird, too).

And this one at 840mm.

Both 35mm film.

Would you swear the second has a more compressed, narrow field of view in the background or less depth of field than the first from looking at them?

Depth of field isn’t only dependent on focal length and sensor size, and a nice out of focus background can be achieved with a short focal length if you pay attention to detail.

Of course it’s easier with a long lens, and this one certainly shows you can get a nice silkly smooth background with a 600mm lens.

Here’s a captive bird shot at 100mm, note that the depth of field isn’t sufficient to keep the rear wing, head and eye, and front wing all in focus at once. Much like the ‘grine above … which actually shows greater depth of field (especially given that it appears focus was on the front wing rather than eye).

Anyway, it’s a nice enough photo of a peregrine, regardless of what length lens she used.

Beautiful peregrine! I’m a huge bird nut and have worked with raptors a lot in the past–peregrines are among my favorite birds.

Their ability to resist the Gs of diving at over 240 miles per hour are a real testament to evolution. I’ve used these birds in public education before and it was a great opportunity to talk about adaptations and evolution.

I heard that the PBS NOVA episode on Microraptor aired again this week. You can look here for additional details regarding the “controversy” regarding its position in the theropod family tree:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/microraptor/

This episode includes interviews with Harvard’s Farish Jenkins, Kansas’s Larry Martin, and AMNH’s Mark Norell, among others. It also features the wind tunnel experiment I had mentioned, conducted at MIT’s wind tunnel facility, and led by Jenkins, Gatesy and several other researchers from Brown University.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on February 16, 2009 12:00 PM.

On the origin of ignorance was the previous entry in this blog.

In What Sense is Evolution “True”? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter