It’s not every day that you hear the words ‘friendly’ and ‘Peregrine’ in the same sentence, but if you haven’t heard already there is a ridiculously tame and cooperative immature Peregrine Falcon hanging out towards the back end of the Edwin B. Forsythe NWR’s Wildlife Auto Loop. Refuge staff have said that it isn’t one of the locally-hatched birds as it doesn’t have the proper leg bands. Having worked with Peregrines this past summer in Virginia, I can say that the immature birds are pretty hard to get close to once they are able to fly. I think it is exceptionally rare to have the opportunity to observe and photograph an immature bird at this distance. The weather was pretty gloomy when my friends and I stopped by the refuge on January 2nd, but the Peregrine was right where other birders had reported it and I was happy to snap off a few shots while we slowly toured the auto loop.
Other immature raptors were also doing their best to show off for the many birders and photographers around the refuge. We saw this moderately-marked Snowy Owl and immature Red-tailed hawk along the first stretch of the auto loop. Other highlights from the refuge included 17 species of waterfowl, 400 Dunlin, Winter Wren, and 3 female Purple Finches.