It’s yrev very good to see you again, old friend.Doppelgänger Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks
Kathy Clark, Ben Wurst, and I were walking back to our cars when we suddenly realized we forgot to name the babies.
It was the early summer of 2020, and we had just just banded four healthy Peregrine Falcons at the Causeway Bridge.
Just as we arrived back at our cars, still debating ideas for names for the banded babies, a suspiciously nondescript town car pulled down the gravel road and approached us. It was clearly some kind of law enforcement. Is there anything more conspicuous than an unmarked law enforcement vehicle?
Soon two clean cut and serious looking men appeared and asked us what we were doing. We told them about the Peregrine family on Bonnet Island. Once they heard our story and had noticed Kathy’s clearly-labeled, state issued truck, they relaxed a bit and informed us that a large protest was being planned at the bridge the following week. They weren’t sure what the crowd size would be, but let us know in case we felt we should take some precautions for protecting the Peregrine tower and discouraging trespassing.
We thanked these mysterious men and they drove off. We all noticed they had never identified themselves.
But Ben & I had made clear mental notes about the uncommon insignia we saw embroidered on the driver’s polo shirt. A quick image search online confirmed they were from the FBI!
The experience was unexpected and unusual, and also gave us a great idea for naming the four babies.
We named them for famous, fictional FBI agents from film and television. The three girls were named “Agent Starling” (Silence of The Lambs), “Agent Scully” (The X Files), and “Agent Heart” (Miss Congeniality).
And we named the one boy “Special Agent Dale Cooper” (Twin Peaks).
I’ve actually had several positive interactions with law enforcement while working with Peregrine Falcons. This is probably because Peregrine love large, public structures like bridges and water towers, which forces me to creep suspiciously around them, frequently.
I still remember the warm kindness shown by the Stafford Police Department when they helped control traffic so I could retrieve the remains of “Agent Starling” when she was struck and killed on the bridge not long after her banding and our run in with the FBI.
And just last week I spent a nice evening talking to a local officer while I stood for hours under the Surf City water tower trying to get a band read. Many local officers have peeked through my lens to get a close look at these mysterious birds who leave “presents” (bird heads and bird legs from their meals above) on their squad cars parked below.
The Surf City water tower is a great place to see Peregrine Falcons. In fact, the current matriarch of the Bonnet Island tower, Jo Durt (82/AN) spent almost two years ruling the Surf City tower as she honed her skills and prepared herself to take over the Causeway Bridge. It’s a great place to catch young falcons passing through in the fall while migrating.
But right now is the beginning of nesting season, and I’ve been seeing a Peregrine in adult plumage a little too often at the Surf City tower. Could it be one of our nesting birds who has lost a mate? Could it be a new adult looking to make a home on LBI?
I became determined to see if it was banded.
It took several hours over a few days. It’s still cold enough that a resting falcon will puff out its feathers a bit for insulation, and pull its legs close in to minimize heat loss. So you just have to sit there, staring through a scope or camera, and wait for that one moment it will finally stretch the leg which would have the colored band, then pray it even has a band, and then, if it has one at all, that you can read it.
I’m glad I didn’t give up. After a few horribly dreary, chilling evenings, standing patiently with an aching back trying to out wait an unreasonably patient Peregrine, I came back bright and early for one last try. I don’t think I had been there watching for more than 30 seconds when it stuck it’s leg straight out to show me.
It was Special Agent Dale Cooper.
Enjoy this quick clip from the other morning when Special Agent Dale Cooper (banded in 2020 as BE/96) finally identified himself in Surf City:
To celebrate this joyous development, and while we consider what it all might mean, here are ten great quotes from always warm, always wise Special Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks.