About FalconPlog

I grew up in a home where my grandfather and father loved nature, gardening, the night sky, and birds. It was a family tradition to ‘collect’ birds on an annual basis and I often tried to find one to add to the list before my dad did. Rarely, if ever, was I successful. Just seeing the bird was good, but hearing the bird was even better, and that would count as a “sighting” that could be collected and added to our list.

I learned to love indigo buntings, barn owls, piliated woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers, too, and rose-breasted grosbecks and cedar waxwings. I don’t know my warblers or swallows as well, but do so love to hearcedarwaxwing them. I know how to feed chickadees by hand, and can tell the difference between several hawks, I love to gaze at soaring turkey buzzards and dream about what they must be thinking.

So, with that curiosity as my backdrop I read with great pleasure several years ago that a most miraculous thing had happened in Hamilton,Ontario, Canada, the place where I live. Peregrine falcons, the almost vanished raptors were making a comeback. You can read the history here, but when I learned that they had set up home on top of the Sheraton Hotel, well, that was quite a story. Further, the bird-watchers here needed volunteers during fledging season to help keep the chicks safe from harm and to document their progress. I signed up.

So for many years now I look forward to March, usually around the 11th, when word comes that the adults are back and are courting and playing house. And then at the end of March it’s egg time and I’ve watched online as eggs start appearing. And then 40 or so days later the eggs start to hatch and little puffballs of peregrine potential inhabit the ‘scrape’ a shallow impression in the pea gravel 18 stories high on a ledge above the grim of the city and the wail of sirens and the wafting smoke from steeltown factories.

Eventually the chicks grow up and shed their baby fluff in favour of flight feathers. And they do really dangerous things like perch on the ledge and look over, way way down at silly people like me who stand in the Board of Ed parking lot with binos and orange vests, hoping and praying that a first flight won’t be a first flop. This photo is from the Hamilton Peregrine website…check it out.

But, I’ve been there for a first flight! And it’s glorious and amazing. It reminds me that even in the midst the city in a location which isn’t geared for success, in a place where pollution and predators abound, these little fledglings are born to fly. Their DNA says, I have wings and I want to use them. “I want to fly.”

As an educator, I’ve chosen the peregrine falcon as my metaphor for learning. I meet lots of kids who at first glance seem like they might not make it. The gravity and drag of their situations seem overwhelming. But their DNA, I believe, says “I want to learn. “

My job is, then, to help them get the lift and thrust they need to overcome everything else. I’m in the business of learning, and I love it!

Notes about the photo:

The photo above is taken by a former district student whom I met while watching peregrines. He has given me official permission to use this image and I respectfully want to link to his work and his amazing collection of bird images that are quite simply, stunning.

As I understand things, this image is taken near Niagara Falls. These two juveniles are perched dangerously over the edge of the gorge with its raging waters below, but they don’t seem to mind. They can fly, you see, and that’s what matters.

I think these young ones are beautiful, to say nothing of the fact they are the fastest creatures on the planet. And I think watching people learn is even more beautiful, especially when you get to see a ‘first flight’ that moment of eureka when something clicks and understanding takes off and lifts the spirit.

So, every day I look up, receive hope, and then head to school.

Additional plog notes:

  • A plog is like a blog, an online journal. But a plog has the added feature of helping the writer belong to a network, a Personal Learning Network. It’s a bit like PLC, Professional Learning Communities, but it’s more personal, immediate, fluid, and for me, authentic.
  • My goal is to write every day, 365 days in a row, but if it doesn’t happen, that’s OK. I will not worry about it, not one bit. I won’t even feel guilty. I originally started this plog at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year and kept it updated religiously for a whole year. Yes indeed! Then I stopped, by purposeful choice, in order to find more balance. Good plan. And now, occasionally, I return to this site in a spirit of authentic curiousity about life, not a dogged persistence to maintain a somewhat arbitrary goal.  I write now for compelling reasons, rather than compliance, even if it’s compliance to one of my own personal standards.
  • I will learn something new every day, even if I don’t plog about it
  • I keep at least one other blog for personal stuff and since plogs are by my definition learning networks that are meant to be open and shared, this plog will have things are safe for everyone to read
  • I invite people to comment and chat…and reserve the right to edit things for respect, accuracy, and good will


  1. […] About FalconPlog […]

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  4. Wow. I am honored to be part of all this learning. Thank you. No wonder you wake up at all hours of the nite!!! It is definately more than just an age thing.

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