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FEATHER TALK
ROCK DOVE

Actually, this is a Peregrine Falcon story and not a pigeon (Rock Dove) story. Iím usually saddened by the observation of many feathers that indicates a predator kill. However, there is something about the setting of this story that makes it an exciting and favorable memory. Arnold, Jack, and I were birding in a beautiful box canyon near the Colorado River
just west of Moab. The bright red cliffs made the sky even bluer than reality. The little fragment of riparian habitat in this box canyon was full of birds, lizards, flowers, and other interesting tidbits of nature. A Golden Eagle floated overhead and landed on its nest. The scene seemed so peaceful. Then it happened. A small flock of Rock Doves flew from one cliff to another and, in a split second, a Peregrine Falcon appeared out of nowhere and struck one of the doves. Feathers seemed to fill the sky. I didnít know one bird could have so many feathers.

Maybe birders, including myself, should think of all birds as being equal. However, Iíve been conditioned to like Peregrine Falcons more than Rock Doves. Humans, including myself, practically drove the Peregrine to extinction with poisons like DDT. Thanks to Rachel Carson, who woke us up with her book Silent Spring, we discovered the danger of poisoning our environment. Sadly, we still havenít learned to stop poisoning altogether. However, we did
reduce some of the worst threats before the Peregrine, Bald Eagle, White-faced Ibis, and many other species went extinct. Now Peregrine Falcons, along with many other species, are making a comeback. There is a much higher probability that humans can survive if our earth co-inhabitants are healthy. We should all remember why the miners of the past took canaries into the mine with them.

Yes, on that clear spring day, we lost one Rock Dove. I want to believe this dove provided a meal to some young Peregrine Falcons to help this magnificent bird return to former occupied habitats to be enjoyed by our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and on and on.


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