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One Great Shot: Peregrine Falcon Mealtime

A fearless photographer braves a rocky precipice to capture this image of avian carnage.

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by Joshua Asel

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peregrine falcon eating a dove

“Hey! There she is!” my friend cried, pointing toward the peregrine falcon as it landed with its prey on a seaside cliff, about six meters beneath me. As bluish-green waves crashed below, the massive bird began tearing apart an invasive dove. To capture the action, I carefully maneuvered into place using balancing techniques that I learned during my years as a rock climber. With my camera and telephoto lens in hand, I leaned over the steep drop-off. Neither of my two photographer friends dared to try for the image, but I found pleasure in the moment.

I’ve been watching this specific individual for a few years now. Its beauty, speed, power, and grace are a constant source of awe along this parcel of Northern California, where it chooses to build its nest year after year. Though the Pacific coastline from Alaska to Mexico is a vital flyway, the bird will stay in the area after the nesting season is over to make sure no other peregrine falcons claim its prime coastal territory.

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