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Old January 21st, 2011, 10:23 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Posts: 1,200
More Fun and Games... Falcons!

Hey all of you raptor experts:

I told you a few months ago that this has been the most amazing year for raptors right here in my backyard. Remember the immature female Goshawk you guys helped me identify?

Well, try your hand at this! Prairie Falcon? Immature? Looking at our bird book it doesn't look quite like a Peregrine but I'm not sure. Female? I know you all can tell me.

Once again, video taken right in my front yard so like the Goshawk, I was not camping out in sub-zero weather looking for it, but am immensely blessed by it all the same.

Why are these guys so (relatively) tame? I shot this footage maybe 25 feet away! I'm stunned but thrilled.

Thanks for sharing the joy with me!

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Catherine Russell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 22nd, 2011, 07:25 AM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 880
Falco mexicanus- Prairie Falcon. Note the light patch between the moustachial and dark ear coverts. This would be missing in peregrines and would be streaked in gyrfalcon and richardsonii merlins. The dark axillaries are diagnostic and their breadth leads me to conclude this is a female. Breast feathers show spots with no residual juvenile streaks so she is at least in her second winter. My opinion- letís hear others.

What field guide are you using? Iím sure Dale, Steve and I can all recommend our favorites.

Raptors are often easier to approach in winter. The posture in the first two shots shows that you are close to her flight distance. She is torn between staying and fleeing. Very likely, she is staked out on a prey and is waiting you out to leave.

Nice shots, Iím sure weíd all love to see the video.
Mike Sims is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 22nd, 2011, 08:52 AM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Posts: 1,200
Hi Mike:

Thanks for the insights. I knew I could count on you. At the time, I grabbed: A Guide to Field Identification Birds of North America, but we have four or so different books. Which are your favorites?

I hope the still frames don't imply she was stressed. The first two stills were during her launch off the pole. She seemed to be sitting there comfortably and then simply took off at will in a matter of seconds.

It's been an unusual year for raptors. We've had a male-female Northern Harrier pair practically set up by our home for the season, eagles and other types of hawks and Buteos. It's been amazing to be a bystander of it all.

Thanks for the wisdom Mike, and I'm thrilled you have entered the ring this round for uwol 19.

Catherine Russell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 27th, 2011, 03:44 PM   #4
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Posts: 819
My word, Cat. That's one hell of a yard you have there. Please send some of your raptors down here. I have a lot of Eurasian Collared Doves with little "Lunch" tattoos on them. So far, Cooper's Hawks are the only diners.
Steve Siegel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 28th, 2011, 11:44 AM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Posts: 1,200
Hey Steve:

No way, friend. It's about time you visited my neck of the woods. Offer is always out there.... beers on our side deck as we watch it all unfold. Bring the whole family (you don't mind 20 degrees with snow do you?). I also still have some nagging moon questions for ya ;-)

So Steve, stopping off in the neighborhood and not signing up? What's up with that? Holding out until the last minute to keep us all in suspense?

Hope to see your name on the list in the end!


P.S. "Lunch tattoo's"? Bummer, that's like having a birthmark in the shape of a bull's eye!
Catherine Russell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 6th, 2011, 07:17 PM   #6
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Saskatchewan
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The guys are correct it is definitely a beautiful prairie falcon.

The falcon is in fact a female prairie falcon, and it also an immature bird having hatched last spring.

It is a praticularly beautiful prairie falcon ans is really contrasty in color, many are not quite so white on the front.

The adults have tiny tear drops in the upper crop and the lower body has dots. where the immatures have vertical streaks going down the breast, and most often the feet on an immature are usually greyish (but the odd ones that feed primarily on passaine birds will have slightoy yellower feet but never a bright yellow as an adult prairie.

Females always have a fuller rounder head and a stockier body, where the males are finer looking and have a blockier type of head and a more refined beak.

Just a few pointers you may already know.

Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old February 7th, 2011, 10:57 AM   #7
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Posts: 1,200
Hi Dale!

I was hoping you would get to this in time! As a matter of fact, I don't know these details and I knew I could count on raptor experts like you, Mike and Steve to fill me in. I so appreciate the info, and all of your knowledge.

I still am amazed these beautiful birds are stopping by. We've had a Harrier pair all winter, but they are always in motion and I'm not successful getting them on film.

As far as this Prairie Falcon female, I agree with you, she is a particularly beautiful girl :)

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