I was walking in the forest at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Preserve one April morning in 2014 when I spotted this crow-sized bird land in a tree nearby. I did my best to approach this bird with all the stealth I could muster. Along the way, I would pause and photograph because I knew that at some point this creature would fly off because my approach.
As you can see, I was shooting against the light filtering through the trees which does not make for good photographs but you take what you can get in the field.
I was astounded after I had a chance to enlarge these images to see that I had photographed a Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus. While this member of the Falconidae family is widely distributed over the world, DDT use in our country nearly drove these birds to extinction during the period of 1950-1970. Since that time, their population numbers have been on the rise, partly due to captive breeding. They were removed from the Endangered species list in 1999. They are a success story of species recovery because man realized, before it was too late, that DDT had to be removed from the environment. The Mississippi Kite and the Bald Eagle are also examples of raptors that have come back from the edge of extinction for the same reasons.
In this image, while a little fuzzy, it is possible to see the dark cheek patches that confirm this as a juvenile Peregrine in transition to the adult plumage.
This is the last image I was able to make of this remarkable bird before it flew away. I felt very lucky to have seen one of these. I hope we will continue to protect the environment so we may continue to see these birds and other wild creatures increase in numbers. This will only be possible if we protect habitat and ecosystems in ways that are sustainable. Failure in this important task threatens not only these extraordinary creatures, but ourselves and our posterity.