Photographer captures moment ‘darn adorable, vicious killers’ sparred in California sky

·2 min read
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A photographer was out hoping to capture some shots of peregrine falcons in California and got just that, and then some.

Decker Nomura was in Torrey Pines getting shots of falcons during “their most protective time of year,” he told McClatchy News.

“They nest on cliffs and get very protective, they’ll attack any bird that flies in their airspace,” Nomura said. “If they see something as a threat they’ll attack, not necessarily to kill but they’ll smack it in the head and send it on its way.”

The 54-year-old letter carrier started photographing wildlife in 2018 after shooting weddings and sports.

“Humans are just so much more fidgety,” the San Diego resident since 1984 said.

During his outing to find falcons last May, Normura captured stunning photos of a peregrine falcon kicking other birds out of it’s area. He shared the photos on social media earlier this month, garnering attention from various media outlets and websites.

Nomura said he got the shot by “knowing where they nest and going there to wait for them to attack,” plus a little luck that the weather didn’t mess up the picture’s clarity.

Knowing they’ll eventually attack an “invader,” Nomura, who used a Nixon Z9 camera with an 800 millimeter lens, paid close attention to the birds’ demeanor.

“Sometimes 15 to 20 pelicans will fly in formation. Sometimes the falcon will let them pass and that’s perfectly normal,” Nomura said. “I only get a short period of time each year, around the middle of May, that they start to become really protective of their chicks.”

Nomura told McClatchy News peregrine falcons, one of the fastest birds on the planet, can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour and will even do a “food transfer” where the male falcon goes out and grabs a bird, holding it from its beak or talons, while the female hovers underneath and grabs it.

“They’re so precious. They’ll peck at pelicans’ eyeballs, osprey, seagulls. They’re darn adorable, vicious killers,” Nomura said.

Torrey Pines is a neighborhood in San Diego.

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