Peregrine Falcons Have Returned

Peregrine falcons have returned to Vermont and are getting ready to nest. I was able to visit a pair in Caledonia County this morning. They spent some time seemingly discussing their nest site, with one promoting last year’s site, the other agitating for a ledge a couple dozen yards to the north. They interrupted the discussion to head out for a flying courtship display. Unfortunately, the display was out of camera range.

Peregrines were extirpated (locally extinct) in Vermont after the introduction of DDT. The state started a recovery effort in 1975 and the population is increasing again. The last year I could find figures for was 2022, when there were an estimated 60 pairs nesting in Vermont.

Peregrines are thought to be the fastest animal on earth. They can dive in flight. Estimates online range from 200 to 240 mph, without my finding anyone who claims to have actually clocked a flying falcon. But, seeing one dive is indeed impressive and the estimates are believable.

When I arrived before dawn, this bird was on last year’s nest site, the other was about 50 feet to the north on a different ledge. They repeatedly called to each other, seemingly promoting the benefits of each site.
The second bird moved up to a tree more or less over the old site and the discussion continued.
The second bird swooped the first while it was on the old nest, probably the beginning of his courtship display.
Another swoop. Both birds soon flew off to trees to the south where they repeatedly called and answered. After a bit they flew, with one somewhat lazily circling while the other swooped and rolled. Unfortunately, they were too far away for pix.
After the courtship, the both settled in trees for a bit before one headed out, probably for breakfast. After a time, the bird returned to last year’s nesting site and sat for a bit.
Still sitting on the old nest site, the mate was still in the trees to the south.
Time to fly some errands, the bird headed out and off to the east and I headed off to get my errands done.

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  1. Reply
    Rita Pitkin March 13, 2024

    Beautiful pictures. Thank you!

  2. Reply
    Kathy March 14, 2024

    Absolutely stunning. Thank you

  3. Reply
    carolyn keck March 14, 2024

    Ian, these are incredible! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Reply
    Kate March 14, 2024

    Dear Ian,
    This is a special part of my day!

    Thank you!


  5. Reply
    Lee Carvalho March 14, 2024

    Wow, Ian! Those images are terrific. I’m glad you chose that morning to observe the peregrines.

  6. Reply
    Martha E Cook March 14, 2024

    Your images make my heart sing this morning. There’s hope in Nature. Geese flying north, bluebirds checking out nest boxes, red-winged blackbirds back in the neighborhood. Valuable anecdotes to world affairs.

    • Ian Clark headshot
      Ian Clark March 15, 2024

      Thanks. Our bluebirds are singing around the yard, but we haven’t seen them checking on the boxes for a few weeks, hope they’re coming back.

  7. Reply
    Ellie Farr March 14, 2024

    great pictures.

  8. Reply
    Diana March 14, 2024

    Incredible photos and love the narrative as it brings us into their world.

  9. Reply
    Sonja Hakala March 14, 2024

    Wow Ian, your photos are always impressive but these are just wow wow wow.

  10. Reply
    Peter and Peregrine spiegel March 14, 2024

    We thought your pictures were superb
    Do you do prints?
    By the way my wife’s name is PEREGRINE

    • Ian Clark headshot
      Ian Clark March 14, 2024

      I hope your Peregrine doesn’t squawk as much as this pair 😉 I do sell prints. I’m overhauling my web site, It takes a while for me to get new images up on the site. If there’s one you’re interested in, please email me. Thanks

  11. Reply
    Curt March 14, 2024

    Ian, thank you very much for sharing

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