Friendly Falcons

A friendly Peregrine Falcon perching calmly as we read the letter/number code on the visual indentification band (A over 4). This falcon, a female, was captured on September 19, 2008 on the Ocean Shores study area.
Dale Larson photo.

Our raptor Surveying and Banding research has been ongoing since 1995. In the ensuing 29 years, we’ve captured 244 Peregrine Falcons, fitting each with a visual identification leg band.    

As we approach these falcons in our vehicle for banding or resighting, the degree of wariness they show ranges from extremely skittish to very approachable. Our favorites are the easy-going types, those Friendly Falcons.

These birds make our work easier: easier to capture and, once in hand, easier to handle (though they will bite given the chance!). After release, the demeanor of these Friendly Falcons doesn’t change. They allow close approach for band code reading by spotting scope or camera with telephoto lens. Below you will find information on two of our most Friendly Falcons, banded two decades and one year apart on the Ocean Shores beach.

Peregrine Falcon 4/D, 1997-2004

4/D was banded as a first-year female on February 2, 1997 at Ocean Shores. In years that followed 4/D showed fidelity to the Ocean Shores beach, having been resighted there 70 times in seven years (fall to spring).

4/D in juvenile plumage on banding day in 1997. Tom Rowley photo.
4/D at Ocean Shores in 1999 at age 3. Brian Wheeler photo. A photo of 4/D taken at the same time is featured in Brian’s field guide Raptors of Western North America (p. 496)
I’m especially fond of this photo of 4/D. Her demeanor is calm, despite our close approach for the photo. And there’s a seldom seen clear view of the long toes characteristic of falcons.
Dan Varland photo ca 2000.
Artist Jack DeLap was inspired to create the illustration of 4/D above after observing her during surveys in the 1998 and 1999. For a blog post that I did on Jack’s story and artwork, click here.

Peregrine Falcon 35/B, 2018-2023

35/B was banded on October 30, 2018 at Ocean Shores. Like 4/D, she was less one of age at the time. And like 4/D, she exhibited fidelity to the Ocean Shores beach, having been resighted there 108 times. 35/B was five years old at her last resighting, January 31, 2023.

35/B in juvenile plumage on banding day. Tom Rowley photo.
35/B held the distinction of having two white talons on her right foot. These were often helpful in her identication because she often perched with feathers covering her legs. Tom Rowley photo.
Video of an 35/B taken from the vehicle during a survey at Ocean Shores in 2022. Notice her calm demeanor. Video by CJ Johnson.
Photo of 35/B taken at the time of the video. While her ID band is not visible, the white talon reveals her identity. Dan Varland photo.
Field biologist and artist Emily Ritter was inspired to to illustrate 35/B after joining Coastal Raptors surveys in 2022. Click here to read my blog on Emily’s story and see her rendition of 35/B.

Photographers also appreciate Friendly Falcons! Friendly falcons perch comfortably for photos and tend to show site fidelity, making them easier to locate again and again.

Below is an awesome photo of 35/B taken by California photographer and videographer Nick Dunlop. Nick has visited our study area beaches many times during the fall months, seeking out and often finding our Friendliest Falcons. Nick aptly describes them this way: “Tame as Cats!”

35/B hunting Dunlin at Ocean Shores, November 13, 2019. Nick Dunlop photo.

Note: If you would like to see more of my Blog posts on Peregrine Falcons, click on Pacific Coast Peregrines below.

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