Guest contributor: Joseph Longcore

Getting Outside Saturday: The Falcon and the Sparrow

categories: Cocktail Hour / Getting Outside

1 comment


I want to tell you about something I saw one day while I was out trying to get some new peregrine falcon pictures for the book project I am working on when I saw a falcon circling above me, climbing for altitude. Higher and higher it climbed, and then suddenly it folded in its wings, and dove out of the sky like a rocket!

What I saw with my eyes was a bird circle, dive, turn around and come back.

It wasn’t till I got home and downloaded the pictures that I realized what I had really seen was the falcon strike a tree swallow in mid-air, turn around, catch it, bite its head off, and then return to their nest box.

It is written that falcons can dive at speeds nearing 300 mph.

All I can say is that this whole event happened in the blink of an eye.

Another thing I saw the falcons do was when a turkey vulture ventured too close to their nest.

I heard them screaming first, sort of a “shreep shreep shreep” kind of sound.

I look to see what is happening, and see why they are so agitated. A turkey vulture was flying by.

The adult pair went after the vulture.

The one falcon would get above the vulture, roll on its back, and then dive on the vulture.

Their actions that day reminded me of a pair of A10’s providing close air support, with the pair taking turns going after the vulture.

The vulture survived the falcon attack and hastily exited the falcon’s territory.

It was one of those moments watching raptors that made me think Hell Yeah!


 [Joseph Longcore is a writer and photographer.  He’s got 3 kids, lives in Michigan, and is interested in birds. Especially raptors.]


  1. George de Gramont writes:

    Frightening & Amazing. But “C’est la vie”!