Peregrine falcon

The Wichita Eagle

Falco peregrinus

Keep an eye out for gray lightning when you’re watching a flock of pigeons over downtown Wichita these days. That streak could be a peregrine falcon doing what they do best, grabbing their dinner right out of the sky.

According to a detailed description, a peregrine was probably having a pigeon for breakfast in the parking lot of the Wichita Eagle on Wednesday morning.

Peregrines are more commonly seen at large marshes, like Cheyenne Bottoms, where they live up to their nickname of “duck hawk.” Sometimes they’re seen in larger cities where they have easy hunting on flocks of pigeons. Both Topeka and Kansas City have had successful peregrine nests atop tall buildings where special nesting areas were constructed. Wichita had such a site visited several times but the birds never raised any young.

Like most falcons, peregrines are a joy to watch in the air but you need to be paying attention. Some estimates say peregrines dive at speeds up to 200 mph, killing their prey with large talons then following it to the ground.