Look, It's Frightful!
Well, okay, it's a Peregrine Falcon, but for those of us who really loved My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, it could be Frightful, the bird trained by the hero of the story (a runaway boy named Sam living in the Catskill Mountains) in the 4000-year-old traditions of falconry.
The fastest of birds (take THAT, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, you goopy creature), Peregrines dive at speeds up to 200 miles and catch urban pigeons with a most astonishing puff of feathers.
The Peregrine can snatch a bat in mid-air. They can eat in mid-air. They typically hunt waterbirds, like wild ducks and coots and so on. They've been documented cruising along with airboats in the Everglades, using the boat like a bird-dog to flush prey. Which is kind of ironic, given our 4000 years of taming them.
I could go on. Peregrine as a word implies "wanderer," but the birds mate for life and often return to the same area season after season. Their mating rituals include a courtly bowing dance phase (oh, don't they all) and the female decides where and when to fertilize her eggs.
Like most raptors, the species almost died out in North America the 1970's due to DDT pollution, but have made a wonderful recovery once we stopped poisoning stuff.
They can be found on every continent on the globe except Antartica. Even in suburban coastal Florida on a random January morning.
A few references
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