Since I have seen so many merlins at one end or the other of Lake Superior
over the years and do not entirely trust myself to identify birds by size I
was cautious, but my first impression of this brownish-grey falcon was
peregrine. I was walking the footpath enclosed with grass along the tops of
the dunes, back toward the parking area. When the bird passed me going the
other way there seemed a great deal of blue-grey in the wing coverts and on
the back but the spread wings appeared mainly brown from below with strong
checkering on the primaries. The manner of flight was side-to-side, higher
and lower, full of adjustments and probably indicative of hunting. The
mustache marking on the face was obvious but narrower than in Sibley's
illustration of an adult peregrine, not as narrow as on a prairie falcon.
Later Peterson's field guide, the bird book of my teen-aged years, proved
as it has before the most helpful of the books, in its summation of the
peregrine as crow-sized rather than the length of a jay. This bird was
crow-sized, so all things considered may have been a not-quite-adult
peregrine traveling at least part of the length of Park Point, which last
winter compared with this one was quite birdless whenever I visited it till
March, when the first song sparrow appeared.
*Tanya Beyer Barcikowski - d.b.a. Epiphanies Afield, Natural History Art
from the North American heartland
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