Birding in Providence Heats Up with Peregrine Falcon Sightings

The Audubon Society of RI and Providence Urban Wildlife Conservation Partnership team up to offer free bird-watching hikes


On the balmiest day of spring so far, this Wednesday representatives from the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and Providence Urban Wildlife Conservation Partnership assembled at Roger Williams National Memorial Park downtown for the monthly Providence Birding Outing. Clad in sunhats and with binoculars around our necks, participants gathered at the tiny city park ready to see all kinds of feathered denizens, but one beloved species in particular: the Peregrine Falcon.  

A first-time event-goer, I was in good company with a mix of new birders and frequent flyers to the series. Audubon educators Lisa Maloney and Tracey Hall led the walk, which was joined by a National Parks Service Ranger, and a total of 20 enthusiastic participants from Providence and beyond. We started in the shade of the park, where curious Blue Jays flitted around overhead, and traveled down city streets, spotting Chipping Sparrows, grackles, robins, and other birds along the way.

Those following along on Audubon’s Instagram may have taken note of the four Peregrine Falcon chicks, or eyases, which were banded last week. Through Hall’s scope set up at a good vantage point of the Industrial Trust Building (AKA the Superman Building) where the family of raptors resides, participants took turns watching and waiting. It wasn’t long before the parents made an appearance, perching near the very top of the building, and we all raised our binoculars to catch a glimpse.

Admired for their incredible speed – known to reach upwards of 200 miles per hour – Peregrine Falcons are the fastest species in the animal kingdom. Maloney explained that they hunt pigeons (which can fly 60 miles per hour) in the air, unlike hawks, which circle prey overhead and swoop down to strike on the ground.

We moved along to another spot to see the falcons, which may have been the star of the show, but even observing common birds in their urban habitat sparked moments of wonder, from seeing and hearing the Chimney Swifts – which spend much of their time in the air – fluttering high above to learning about pigeon genetics and their flimsy nests.

All told, we saw 13 species in the space of an hour, and in that short time the camaraderie among birders, even strangers, was palpable. Participants expressed their birding bucket-lists, shared knowledge, asked questions, and squinted at flashes of movement under trees and between buildings. The next time you see a rag-tag crew of binocular-wearing enthusiasts pointing at the sky, you may do well to look up – and join in.   

Providence Birding Outings are free and take place most months, except for mid-summer, at various locations. Follow Providence Urban Wildlife Conservation Partnership on Facebook for future adventures, visit for statewide May birding opportunities, and stay tuned for a bird banding demonstration in September.


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