Sunday, June 03, 2007

I found a family of Prairie Falcons at one of my favorite spots about a mile from the Rio Grande yesterday. It is the first I have come across in our immediate vicinity in twenty years. I first heard the female calling as she flew along parallel to the canyon rim I was walking along; it seemed clear she was defending a nest site. I made my way down to the sandy arroyo below and retrieved the binoculars. It didn't take long to find the nest hole in the cliff, and there were three big babies lined up at the entrance.

    I went back the next morning with more camera gear, including a couple telephotos and the digital camera. No sign of birds in the hole, though the mother falcon was still actively defending the site. I spent some time photographing flowers and then decided to walk up close to the nest site to see if I could get some pictures of the adult female. She got incresingly loud, though she mostly sat on rock outcrops close to the site. A pair of mockingbirds and a kestrel came along to give the falcon a hard time.

    When I got to the talus slope at the base of the cliff, I found the single young one there, probably a female judging by the size. She was nearly full-grown, but still had a lot of down and probably could have used another week at least in the nest. My guess would be that the young falcons were flushed out of the nest site the previous night by an owl.

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