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Old Abe, War Eagle

Abe Lincoln's Birthday! An infantry regiment from Wisconsin had a Bald Eagle as its mascot during the Civil War. Named "Old Abe", in honor of President Abraham Lincoln, this eagle accompanied Company C in nearly 40 battles. After the Civil War, Old Abe retired to the Wisconsin Capital, appearing... read more »

Topics & Themes:  history

Peregrines and Pigeon Plumages

Urban Peregrine Falcons rely on Rock Pigeons for much of their diet. But some pigeons appear harder to catch than others. Pigeons with white rumps evade pursuing falcons more often than those with dark rumps. When scientists took dark-rumped pigeons and colored their rumps white, their survival... read more »

Topics & Themes:  plumage

Peregrine-Shorebird Interaction

Have you ever seen a Peregrine Falcon attack a flock of shorebirds, igniting a breathtaking aerial display? Falcon researcher Steve Herman calls this pattern of evasion "instantaneous synchronicity." The shorebird flock will often form a cone, with the sharpest point shifting continuously to face... read more »


Piracy Among Raptors

One bird of prey may steal another's meal, a behavior that biologists call piracy, or kleptoparasitism. The prey may change hands several times, perhaps from Northern Harrier to Peregrine Falcon to Bald Eagle. The Peregrine - like the young one seen here - may steal a meal, or have its meal... read more »


The Amazing, Head-turning Owl

An owl's seeming ability to rotate its head in a complete circle is downright eerie. An owl's apparent head rotation is part illusion, part structural design. Because its eyes are fixed in their sockets, it must rotate its neck to look around. It can actually rotate its head about 270 degrees – a... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science

Ospreys Weather the Storm

Ospreys nest near water in a tall tree or on a tower, where they're exposed to the elements, including direct sunlight which can sometimes produce scorching temperatures. At other times, they're pounded by rain, as they protect their young. When the storm's over, it's back to feeding those hungry... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting

The Eyes of an Owl

Peer into an owl's face – there is something almost human about its large, forward-facing eyes. The Great Gray Owl, which stands two feet tall and weighs 2 and 1/2 pounds, has eyes larger than those of most humans! Enormous eyes enable owls to see in near darkness. An owl's retinal anatomy is... read more »


Tracking Peregrine Falcons

In September, a streamlined Peregrine Falcon calls as it wings its way south from its Arctic nesting grounds. The pale gray falcon will spend the winter in Chile. On its back, it wears a miniature satellite transmitter, attached there by members of the Falcon Research Group. In 2006, Bud Anderson... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Peregrines Take Wing

By June, many young Peregrine Falcons are ready to leave the safety of the aerie and go off on their own. A young bird lifts off and heads ... where? With a little luck, the young falcon will make it safely to a nearby ledge, whether cliff or skyscraper. Juveniles stay close to their nesting site... read more »


Wimbledon Peregrines

Wimbledon is legendary: the verdant green of the courts, the throngs of fans in sun hats, sightings of royalty ... and lots of pigeons. Since the tennis tournament began in 1877, pigeons nested in the stands and generally made a mess of things. Today, though, very few pigeons attend Wimbledon.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  sports