Finding Flight with the Falcons

Considering the peregrine, who are we to think we belong in the air? /

A few years ago, my wife and I lived in an apartment about a block from Louisville’s Cherokee Park: 400 acres of grassy hills and woods, with a busy creek that runs through the heart of it and on to the Ohio River. The park is home to all kinds of wildlife, who sometimes wandered outside the park’s boundaries and into our busy, urban neighborhood. Once, I spotted an eight-point buck in our alley, trotting away from the park towards Bardstown Road, like he had errands to run in town.

Speed Has a Mustache

On another morning, I was about to get into my rusted Volvo when a trash can about five feet away began to shake, scaring the bejeezus out of me. I stood frozen for a long moment, wondering what might be inside. My first thought was raccoon, but my experience with raccoons is that if they’re smart enough to get in, they’re smart enough to get out. My next thought was possum, which was met with an initial disgust at the creature itself, and then a deeper disgust at the thought of a dead possum rotting in my trash can. I decided to turn the can on its side and give the creature a chance to escape.

I took a step towards the can and immediately drew back as it shook again. Suddenly, perched on its rim and staring furiously at me was not a possum or a raccoon, but a peregrine falcon.

As a kid, I had a weird obsession with raptors. In addition to my stacks of field guides on North American birds of prey, I had sketchbooks full of them. My favorite book of all was a collection of pen and ink drawings of golden eagles, osprey, red-tailed hawks, and peregrine falcons. The peregrine had always been my favorite. This was an encounter I’d dreamed of my whole life. And it was emerging from the ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 27 / July 23, 2015
  1. Editors’ Note

    Issue 27 (our first anniversary!): Peregrine falcons, the storm that changed Western Christianity, and a wonderful word after waiting. /

  2. ‘God Blew, and They Were Scattered’

    God may or may not have played a role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada. What mattered is that everyone at the time thought he did. /

  3. Perhaps This Mid-May

    28 cycles of waiting. Then a final message. /

  4. Width, Length, Height, Depth

    ‘I can look nowhere / but up the sheer red walls’ /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Issue 27: Links to amazing stuff /

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