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This Peregrine Falcon was discovered on Wednesday, April, 6 on Weybridge St. in Middlebury in a tree next to the Otter Creek Child Care Center. Rodney Olson, who runs the Raptor banding program at the Hannaford Career Center, spotted it while driving by. He informed Gary Starr who informed me and I joined him there to see it. the reason for our excitement is that initially this bird was misidentified as a Gyrfalcon. But upon reviewing the pictures later we realized we had missed some of the main differentiating features of the two species. A Gyrfalcon’s wings do not reach down to the end of it’s tail when perched, and the “mustache” is also too strong as well. Our confusion was caused by this bird’s bulky appearance, though in retrospect it seems to have been puffing up it’s feathers against the cold. I believe you can even see some of it’s down poking through on it’s breast in front of it’s wing. But misidentifying a bird like this can only be taken as a valuable learning experience, for certainly the next time we find a putative Gyrfalcon, we will definitely know what to look for.

Also getting a good look at this bird were the preschoolers and their caretakers all of whom  greatly enjoyed it’s presence. We were told that this wasn’t the only recent avian close encounter for these kids either. Recently they had a Barred Owl perched in a tree overlooking their playground who was completely unconcerned as the children looked on and talked to it. The Peregrine must have given them another good bird story to tell their parents when they got home.

– Ron Payne

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