IF ONE WERE a peregrine falcon, batting along at 200 miles an hour in one of those spectacular swoops, where would one choose to live?

Exactly. I think we would all choose Baltimore.

Scarlet, and that is her name, was bred in captivity by Cornell bird people and released some months ago on an island off the Maryland coast.

But like most of us, she thinks two days is enough for any island in the world, and moved in to Baltimore where she settled on the 32nd floor of the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Insurance Company building.

"We're created two nests," said Roger Ketelsen, head of the advertising department, when I phoned yesterday to see how Scarlet was doing, "each three feet square and four inches deep with sand and pebbles. To give her a sense that this is home."

Additional falcons have been released some miles away and persons familiar with the sort of thing say Scarlet will have no trouble whatever finding them and a dandy lover among them.

Soaring through the sky of the East, looking for a pristine wilderness, one must make do. Out in the country they have so many bug poisons that it's hazardous to be at the top of the food chain. But in Baltimore they do not spray anything to speak of the Scarlet has been feasting on pigeons.

"It's not unusual to find a pigeon leg in the plaza," Ketelsen said.

Dear old Baltimore. Only town in America where you worry less about pigeons when you cross the plaza, and more about talons.

If you take part in a duel you cannot run for governor of Mississippi or any other elective office because the state constitution specifically forbids it.

This may change.

Voters on Nov. 7 will vote on six constitutional changes, one of which deletes the reference to dueling.

You will ask (or I did) if this means that you can kill anybody and then call it a duel and get off.

No. The general laws of Mississippi forbid dueling. It's just that the legislature down there is a bit sensitive about the constitution even mentioning dueling.

It's so damned elitist.

Things come full circle, you have noticed. The last refuge of wilderness birds of prey will, of course, be urban towers. Scarlet to the dark tower came, as it were. And dueling, once honorable, then criminal, then merely embarrassing.

A friend of mine calls pigeons rats with wings, but I think them elegant fowl, and dislike the falcon swooping down on them.

Still, that's life for you. It makes no sense unless you get rough and really insist on it, and then it does.

Ripe apples drop about my head, as a great wit once said, though he knew as much about falcons and pigeon legs as anybody. Horrible and, needless to say, beyond sapphires.