Oct 16, 2021
Palos Verdes, CA
You always hope for the best but I knew my chances of spotting one of these beautiful birds would be pretty slim as I only had a general idea of where the best place would be to begin looking. My son-in-law, (not a birder), and I were walking along the coast when he saw a bird land on the cliff face a good distance away from us. He thought it just looked like it was flying differently than the gulls etc that we were seeing. So we headed in that direction a few hundred yards away and stood for a while scanning the area in front and to the sides. We were just about to continue along with our walk when he tapped me on the shoulder and pointed down to our right ; “there’s one right there” ! I knew he had never seen one before either so my first thought was probably just a big gull of some sort. I couldn’t believe it when I peered over the edge and saw him looking back up at me. Having this bird in my viewfinder was the “rockstar” sighting of my trip to Southern California.
Peregrine Falcons nest on cliffs up to 1300 feet high. Their typical prey includes shorebirds, ducks, grebes, gulls, and pigeons. They are one of the world’s fastest birds; in power-diving from great heights to strike prey, the Peregrine may reach 200 MPH.
Some birds; falcons, kites, shrikes, have a protrusion on the upper bill called a Tomial Tooth. The “tooth” and the corresponding divot in the lower mandible allow the bill to act like a pair of shears, which may make it easier for the predators to sever the spinal cords of their vertebrate prey.