Congratulations to Michael Sargent for winning the July 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Mike’s photo of a Peregrine Falcon pair engaged in an acrobatic aerial food transfer narrowly beat some tough competition this month to end up with the most faves of any observation in the state for July.
You might recognize Mike’s name from his many photographic contributions over the years to our blog posts from the VCE Mount Mansfield Banding Station. While a longtime photographer and friend of VCE, Mike’s only recently joined the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist, where his photo received quite the warm welcome! Peregrine Falcons are one of the most charismatic and exciting bird species in the state, and their acrobatic behaviors are thrilling to watch. This pair seems to have slightly miscalculated their aerial food transfer, with the prey item (a European Starling) tumbling below their grip. Rather than come straight in to the nest, a Peregrine Falcon returning with food will often wait for its partner to fly out, where the prey item is handed off or even dropped in midair. The quick reflexes and staggering speed and agility of Peregrine Falcons allows these transfers to go smoothly most of the time, and this behavior results in some spectacular displays of ‘passing the baton’ with any mishaps corrected by a steep dive to catch the plummeting prey before it hits the ground.
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!