Readers’ wildlife photos

UPDATE: I clearly don’t know my own favorite bird by sight! I was corrected by numerous readers who told me that this was NOT a peregrine. As reader Rob said in the comments:

That’s not a peregrine, that’s a Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus (not to be confused with American Kestrel). An adult peregrine would be slate grey from the top of head to the tip of the tail.


Peregrine falcons may be my favorite birds. They are gorgeous and amazing hunters, able to dive at more than 200 mph when hunting (“stooping”).  Last year I had a “peregrine week,” in which I posted videos of the birds every day; you can find the posts here. And I still recommend The Peregrine, by John A. Baker as the best nature book of any sort I’ve ever read. If you love good writing and animals, this is a must-read. (You can now order an expanded edition, with ancillary writings by Baker.)

Reader Benjamin Haller sent a series of photos of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus), including raising chicks, copulation, and hthe rescue of a fallen chick. His notes:

The back story: we are living in an old Provençal-style house called a mas, on the outskirts of Montpellier, France.  A pair of falcons is nesting in an old attic window of the house; our landlord tells us they nest there every year.  This year there were originally four chicks.  One got pushed out of the nest by its siblings fairly recently; we found it and took it to a bird rescue facility southwest of Montpellier, where it will be raised with other falcons that will teach it to hunt (a learned behavior, apparently, or so they said).  The other three are getting pretty big; in less than two weeks, I am told they will migrate to Africa for the summer.

Chicks barely visible in the nest:

Chicks 2


Parent entering to feed them (is a feather missing?):

Mother 2 Parent leaving:

Mother 3

Here are two photos from my landlord, whose name is Martine Fize; she is happy for you to post them.  To me, the one with the two of them mating on top of the head of Bacchus is the winner.

Mating falcons

The mating photo is fantastic, no? Bacchus doesn’t look pleased. The next one is also great.

The house, which used to be part of a vineyard, has an old head of Bacchus on the roofline, looking out over the back yard, which the falcons like to perch on.

Falcon on Bacchus

And the chick rescue:

The chick was the fourth in the nest, and was pushed out of its siblings; it was unhurt, and is now being raised by a French governmental agency entrusted with rescuing birds and, I think, other wild animals.

Here’s my wife’s photo of the chick that got pushed out.  The hands in the photo belong to the woman at the rescue facility; she was checking for broken bones and other damage, and pronounced the chick unhurt despite falling from quite a high window.  It’s good to be fluffy.

Chick rescue


  1. Posted July 12, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    They really are amazing birds.

    And I think it’s safe to say that the Brits would suggest that Bacchus is pissed.


    • Posted July 12, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink


    • Filippo
      Posted July 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      From the raisin’ of the wrist.

      • Posted July 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        I imagine Bacchus would heartily approve of raisins.


        • Filippo
          Posted July 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          I’m not an oenophile; do raisins contribute the ting-tang of old vine Zin?

          • Posted July 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

            Jerry would know better than me. I’m not an oenophile, either — I like wine, but I drink very little. I know Jerry is fond of sauternes, which I understand are not unlike straw wines. But I’ve never had either….


  2. David Duncan
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the pictures and story, and the book reference. I’m glad things turned out well for the fourth chick. They are amazing birds (but I still like penguins best!)

  3. Rob
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    That’s not a peregrine, that’s a Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus (not to be confuse with American Kestrel). An adult peregrine would be slate grey from the top of head to the tip of the tail.

    Nice photos though.

    • Lee
      Posted July 12, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Was just gonna say, that tail is nothing like any N. Am. peregrine’s tails I have ever seen.

    • Posted July 12, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Yep, that is not a Peregrine. I think no Peregrine has a solid white tail with a single terminal black band. Also none are so rusty on top. There is, however, geographical variation over the Peregrine’s worldwide range, so one has to be careful making IDs of Peregrine pictures from unfamiliar places. The resident Peregrines in my part of the world (Ecuador) are quite a bit darker and redder below than the North American ones (which visit us in winter). See this page distinguishing Ecuadorian resident Peregrines (F. peregrinus cassini) from the rare and beautiful Orange-breasted Falcon:

    • azhael
      Posted July 12, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes, definitely Falco tinnunculus, kestrels, not peregrins, but gorgeous anyway.
      I have a pair of them nesting in a building a few dozen metres away from my bedroom.

      • azhael
        Posted July 12, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        As a small curiosity, they are the opposite of the peregrins. Peregrins are the fastest flying organism on earth, while kestrels are capable of standing suspended in mid air, with their heads perfectly still and inmovile in order to scan the ground. Not many birds can do that.

        • Diane G.
          Posted July 12, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

          It sounds as if you’re describing hovering, which actually quite a few birds can do–kites, kingfishers, osprey, etc.

          • azhael
            Posted July 13, 2014 at 3:18 am | Permalink

            Yes, sorry, hovering xD Much easier with just the one word.
            There are a few bird groups that can, but they represent a fraction of all bird diversity which is why i said that not that many can do the trick.

  4. Rob
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Oh yeah, and a second to The Peregrine, a wonderful book.

    Also confuse -> confused.

  5. Posted July 12, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Bonjour, French landlady & rescue facility staff.

  6. bonetired
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Blatant plug:

    Plus some glorious views over Worcester ….

  7. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I just looked at the reading samples for The Peregrine, and I agree the writing is startlingly good. It is now on my list of books to read.

  8. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    There is something … ineffable … about copulating on top of a bust of Bacchus. Positively Bacchanalian.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 12, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      The rain of hellfire and brimstone clearly indicates Bacchus’ opinion on the matter.

    • Filippo
      Posted July 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      If one can’t get nectar and ambrosia, he’ll take whut he can git.

      As Omar the Tentmaker said, “Take the Cash, and let the Credit go.”

  9. reasonshark
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic birds, kestrels. These photos are brilliant. 🙂

  10. Posted July 15, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I’ve been lucky enough to see a pair of kestrels mating in the top of a tall Douglas fir tree on our place. Very cool. Nice photos!

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