Phoenix has peregrine falcons. They have adapted, using our high-rises as aeries and our pigeons as food. There is no shortage of pigeons in Phoenix.
Peregrines are compact and fast. A stooping (diving for attack) peregrine can reach speeds of 200 mph. Females are considerably larger than males.
Yesterday, I was driving from one place to another, stopped at a traffic light, waiting for the light rail to pass. There was a blur above me and I saw a pigeon working hard and above it, a stooping peregrine. The pigeon didn’t stand a chance, I thought.
But the pigeon was not ready to be dinner. He flew directly in front of the light rail. I flinched, certain he was crushed. Then my eyes jerked up to watch the peregrine. He had vanished. Had he hit the light rail? Nope. The pigeon was safe in a nearby palo verde tree. The peregrine pulled up in a move that must have filled his imaginary Pilates teacher with core pride, and flew along the light rail, and then up toward a tall building. Both birds were safe. Both had survived another day in the city without being killed by the Machine in the Garden.
The car behind me honked. The light was green. I moved on, part of the machine in the city garden.
—Quinn McDonald is an urban naturalist, a writer and creativity coach who helps people heal from trauma through writing.