Last weekend, as I was playing with my daughter in the cool clear waters of the tiny Gazos Creek estuary south of Half Moon Bay, I saw a bird flying purposefully towards us with strong flapping motions. My daughter saw it too, and picked up on my excitement as we quieted our giggles and crouched low in the sand. The bird flew lower, cruising up the creek, and passing within ten feet of us. We both got a clear look at it: a beak built for tearing, strong wings, bright yellow legs, dark head. A peregrine falcon! It was gone as quickly as it came and we resumed our splashing, chasing game. I didn’t forget the falcon, though, and after returning home I turned to my bird book and then to Cornell Ornithology’s “e-bird” website. I zoomed into Gazos Creek on the map, and confirmed that other people had seen a solitary peregrine falcon there, too. Most recently someone named Donna reported seeing it (and many other birds) on February 1st. Sitting alone on my couch, I felt connected to the falcon, to Donna, and to the other birders listed – for me, at least, those connections are part of the secret power of citizen science. Join the citizen science community: http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspots

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