crazycritterlife: Prairie falcons in flight in Arizona. Top…

Posted April 29th, 2018 by John Callender

crazycritterlife:

Prairie falcons in flight in Arizona. Top photo is a wild bird (we think juvenile, but not positive) and bottom photo is a young bird being trained for falconry. She was trapped a few weeks earlier and this was her first free flight training session.

There were tons of prairie falcons in Arizona during my trip. On the first day we were there, Kai refused to hunt with us because a wild prairie was hunting nearby (we didn’t know this until afterwards). A forest-adapted goshawk out in the open desert is no match for a prairie falcon in their natural habitat, so he took off towards the cover of neighborhoods and led us on a tail chase for 10 minutes. It took a lot of convincing to get him to come down. It was scary, but also so fascinating seeing how different species interact with each other.

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This was the bird I was most hoping for when I made the last-minute decision to head to Cuyama yesterday. Since it was a solo trip I couldn’t spare too much attention from driving, but what I could was dedicated to scanning telephone poles and prominent rock piles and anything biggish and flying for the slim figure of a big falcon.

Until mid-morning today it was mostly Common Ravens (Edgar would have liked them), some Red-tails, and a few Swainson’s Hawks. And then, as I was driving along Foothill Road toward the dairy where I planned to look through blackbirds in hopes of a Yellow-headed, I saw it: Trim and fast, pointed wings but clearly way bigger than the kestrel I’d seen earlier. I braked and got the car to the side of the road, jumped out and raised my binoculars, but even without them I knew it was good; the sandy color and black axillaries looked just like the Prairie Falcon I’d seen near Bridgeport on our Mammoth trip last month.

The bird was chasing a raven that had something in its beak. After a few seconds the raven dropped whatever it was and the Prairie Falcon grabbed it in its talons and flew off screeching. I don’t know if the falcon was robbing the raven or just stealing back something the raven had stolen first.

That’s bird-watching: Hours of driving and camping over two days for twenty seconds of awesomeness. Totally worth it. 🙂

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/173438860801.

Tags: carp without cars, birds, santa barbara county year list, prfa.

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