My car was parked a block away owing to the plethora of construction equipment and dumpsters around the house. On my way over, I was looking at the storm clouds coming in and wondering what kind of weather we would have tonight, when I noticed the crows going nuts across the street. It sounded to me like they were mobbing something, and my first thought in these situations is “Great Horned Owl.” So I stood in the gathering breeze and watched in the direction of the crows to figure out what was going on.
Suddenly I spied rapid alate movement among the mid size trees and shrubbery of the vacant suburban lot across the way, but I could see that this was neither raptor nor crow. Then, a few more movements, and I discerned that I was observing a small flock of pigeons moving in perfect unison back and forth among the vegetation in two or three residential yards and the vacant lot. A strong burst of wind slapped me on the back and made me look up, and that is when I saw it.
A falcon … prairie or peregrine I could not tell … was circling rapidly directly over the pigeons. The crows were still noisy, but I could not see where they were. I realized that they were not mobbing anything …. they were just freaking out. They were caw-caw-cawing but from safe hiding places down low. The falcon was incredibly fast on the wing, as it alternated between flapping and soaring. Suddenly the pigeons, which had been carrying out rapid evasive flocking maneuvers among the shrubbery, made a break for it and flew at many tens of miles an hour about a half a block away and took cover. The falcon, clearly observant of this, flew even faster down the block and resumed its circling. Again, the pigeons headed off, and now they were out of my sight, but I knew where they were because the falcon simply repositioned over them. This happened two more times, and I thought … stupid pigeons. They are heading for the wetland, the school yards, the park, and the highway. Easy hunting grounds for the falcon who may have had more trouble picking off a bird in a spatially complex suburban backyard. In the open space of the fields they were heading for ….
… well, the falcon, prairie or peregrine, would eat tonight.
The now silent crows were probably thinking the same thing.