In Birds Art Life Death, Kyo Maclear makes mention of peregrine falcons. For those not familiar with this particular bird, it is best known for being the fastest animal on Earth, reaching speeds of 320-390km/h (depending on what source you go by) when diving for prey. I knew that fun fact since I was a kid (the fact that it’s the fastest, not the actual figures, of course).
Yet, even with my fascination with birds, I never knew much about peregrine falcons apart from the fact that they are so fast. I never thought to read up on this impressive bird, content with knowing that one fact. I’d always preferred eagles, anyway – probably I thought falcons appeared too lithe in comparison. (Probably a terrible generalisation, but I was just a kid, ok?)
Peregrine falcons always remind me of this one time in my childhood when a teacher misheard what I was trying to say, and thought I was trying to say “pigeon” instead of “peregrine”. In Grade Four, our classroom was organised with the desks in clusters of five or six, and, to motivate us to work together and behave, the teacher told us that these clusters were our teams. Of course, teams need team names, and that’s where the peregrine/pigeon confusion happened.
At the time, I think I was frustrated that the teacher didn’t know what a peregrine falcon was, but also embarrassed that she could think that we would want to name our team after pigeons.
These days, I think it’s interesting that pigeons are now one of my favourite birds (probably second only to wedge-tailed eagles), and the existence of peregrines hardly ever crosses my mind. These days, I’d proudly name my team after the humble pigeon.
Apparently (i.e. according to the internet) peregrine falcons are quite widespread – and even common – in many parts of the world. One site says they’re native to Australia. I never knew that. (Are pigeons native to anywhere?)
What I find really interesting is that, when I was a kid, back in Grade Four, I liked peregrine falcons (and other birds of prey) because they were fierce – they were fast and strong and they dominated the skies. Pigeons, on the other hand, were so common and rather dopey-looking, and I don’t remember being particularly impressed by them at all. Now it’s gone the other way: I like pigeons because they are not fierce – they are gentle and unassuming. (Is this what maturity is?)
I’m still impressed by falcons, though – I’m sure I’d still be awestruck if I ever saw one in real life, in it’s natural habitat – but… I dunno… I can appreciate pigeons while I’m chasing falcons, right?