It was a normal end of the day routine: go to the bus stop, wait. Glance up to see what birds are on the wires overhead at the corner of Grant Road and Alvernon Way in central Tucson, Arizona, hoping the time will pass more quickly. Saw a lone bird atop a utility pole. You know how you have those conversations with yourself, trying to talk yourself into one identification versus another? Well, mine went something like this:
Me: “It must be another pigeon. Has to be.”
Myself: “But it’s so white, and it looks a little bigger than the other Rock Doves across the street.”
Me: “Nah, it’s just all puffed up, showing off, you know.”
I: “What is it doing all by itself, then?”
Me: “Well, it’s too small to be a hawk if that’s what you’re thinking.”
Myself: “You’ve got your camera with you, zoom in on it.”
Me: “I’d have to get it out of my backpack, and out of the case….Oh, here comes the bus anyway.”
I: “I guess we’ll never know now….”
I boarded the bus, and once inside still looked longingly out the window at the mystery bird that surely must be a Rock Dove with an inflated ego. Then my thoughts were interrupted…..
Bus Driver to another passenger: “Do you need to use the lift?”
Me: “Well, if we’re going to be here another three minutes boarding this person, I might as well train my camera on that silly bird….”
SFX: Unpacking camera, turning it on, zooming in….click, click, click.
I then reviewed the images, zooming in on the white blob in the middle of the picture….
Me: “What the….No way!....Are you kidding me?!
I could hardly believe what I was seeing, but it soon became undeniably obvious that the “pigeon” was an adult Peregrine Falcon.
Me (audibly, to the other passengers as I clicked away): “That’s a falcon on top of that light pole out there.”
Bus passengers in reply: Ok, pretty much crickets chirping….
Peregrine falcons are not exceptionally rare in Tucson, so seeing one is not necessarily cause for celebration all by itself, but this incident taught me something about myself: I shouldn’t dismiss the careful observations of Me, and I should listen to Myself more when he pesters Me to look a little more closely, verify my suspicions, and satisfy My curiosity. Trust your own instincts, too. It could pay off with a sweet surprise!