Peregrine

Storm King Mountain, not quite at peak fall color on Sunday. This picture was from atop Little Stony Point, which is just north of Cold Spring, NY, beneath the better known Bull Mountain (Mt. Taurus). Granite used to be shipped from here to the city to build little things like the Brooklyn Bridge. While facing south on the point, we saw a Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) rise out of nowhere to strike a bird in a flurry of feathers, then fly over the Hudson with her prey in talons as a small cloud of feathers drifted down to earth. Heading westerly ourselves, we then saw a Peregrine, presumably our Peregrine come around the corner, below us ripping her prey to pieces. A raptor devouring its food is not a pretty sight. This picture is from rather far off, but trust me, it’s a Peregrine with a now bloody-breasted prey at her feet:When we got down below, the bird had long since finished feasting and flown off, so we examine the ground around the plucking/eating post, which was at the edge of another cliff over the river. At least two birds had been dispatched there recently. There was at least one Blue Jay and at least one Northern Flicker. We saw dozens of Blue Jays throughout the day, many of flying at eye-level or below, giving us an unusual look at them from above. The blue was magnificently intense in the sunlight. We didn’t see many Northern Flickers there, but they have been passing through NYC in such large numbers even civilians are noticing.The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), a woodpecker, has yellow-shafted feathers. This is unusual, for most birds have opaque feather shafts (technically, the shaft is known as the rachis). Northern Flickers in the West have red-shafted feathers. As a consequence, when flickers fly, they flash their colorful underwings. This and their white rump patch make they fairly easy to identify. Some of those yellow-shafted feathers. Peregrines pluck the breasts of their prey before eating, so clumps of contour feathers, the downy ones, were spread all around the area, as were these primaries, or wing feathers, probably dislodged in the violence, since the wings of prey are usually left attached to the body.

3 Responses to “Peregrine”


  1. 1 Out Walking the Dog October 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Extraordinary feathers. Last year I saw a huge flock of flickers on Randall’s Island. So gorgeous when they caught the late afternoon light. Nice peregrine sighting. ANd don’t worry, the bloody breast is quite visible in your photo!

    • 2 mthew October 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Yes, these flicker feathers and blue jay feathers are instantly identifiable. The yellow-shafts look like they have been dyed, as many ornamental/decorative feathers are (from non-native species, hence legal to sell, etc.)


  1. 1 A Glimpse into my Past – The Kathy Chronicles Trackback on February 5, 2017 at 12:34 am

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