Sightings in my Backyard
I looked out my kitchen window to check the weather thermometer as I do every morning and there on my wooden fence between my neighbor’s house and mine perched a huge speckled bird where in the 50 years I have lived in this house I had never seen anything bigger than a Blue Jay.
He was savagely tearing bloody chunks out of something he was holding down with one claw. This bird was larger & heavier looking than a hawk. I called my neighbor to look out the window. “What is that bird?” He guessed an American Peregrine falcon.
I watched for a few minutes to learn what he was eating. It was a rat. He’d tear off a bite, looking alertly to the right and to the left, then chugging it down and going for another bite. I ran to get my Natural History of American Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Okay it was a Duck Hawk aka Falco peregrinus anatum. Other names: American Peregrine Falcon, Ledge Hawk, Great Footed Hawk, Rock Hawk, Bullet Hawk.
This is the “noble bird” that was used for hunting (hawking) by the knights of old in the days of chivalry. And there he was feasting on flesh on my common wooden fence in Chicago, Illinois. He was here by invitation actually—the city of Chicago introduced falcons to the city in 1986 to help control the pigeon population and help conservation of a threatened species. They put up accommodating nests on ledges of high-rise buildings and the falcons recognized the upscale housing opportunities. They moved in stayed and thereby saved our statues and our own heads from pigeon molestation…
Seeing him was a great start to my day. I hope he visits again. Read Chicago peregrine falcon on Google.