One of Montana’s truly spectacular birds, the Peregrine Falcon is a rare sight. Janet and I were lucky to watch an adult bird bring breakfast to its two fledglings high upon the cliffs near Headwaters State Park on the Missouri R. this morning. Lewis and Clark would have been impressed. Peregrines are the fastest bird on earth, reaching speeds of 200 MPH stoop diving to whack pigeons, ducks or other medium sized birds in mid-air.

These large, sleek alpha birds are widespread throughout the earth, with an estimated world-wide population totaling 340,000. They can reach body lengths of 20-23″ and a wingspan of 29-47″. They nest high up in cliffs, ledges, cathedrals, suspension bridges and even city skyscrapers. New York City supports a healthy peregrine population, with flocks of sidewalk pigeons offering up a fat menu of feathered falcon food.

Peregrines use the same nest site year after year using no sticks or building materials…simply scraping out a shallow depression in the cave or ledge floor. Highly respected and coveted by falconers, peregrine falcons have been used as hunting birds for over 3000 years.

After much glassing and searching, we finally spotted the nest site high on the cliff when the adult bird came swooping over the river, glided up the wind currents and landed at the mouth of a small cave. Two fuzzy heads popped up with eyes wide open. Breakfast is served. What a treat!

Falcon photos are stock…cliff photos by Janet & RB. Walk The Earth.