Thursday, February 21, 2008

Still More Birding Images.

Circus Cyaneus. What a great name for our old friend the Northern Harrier, (formerly Marsh Hawk.) We've gotten lots and lots of images of Harriers in New Mexico because they're probably the most numerous of the birds of prey here. Big birds anyway. They're always around every field we take the dogs to. We kind of caught this one by surprise when we were out east of the Floridas looking at property. I saw her- females are brown, and larger than the mostly blue/grey males- in the distance, moving our way, so I stopped the car and waited. The top image was at the instant she noticed us and veered away.

This image was taken a second later, and really shows the aerodynamics of the body. The Peterson Guide describes Harriers as "slim hawks with slim wings, long tails.... flight low, languid, gliding..." I enjoy watching them, as they're always hunting, watching the ground for voles, which is their main prey. You can always tell the Harrier by the large white rump patch, clearly visible above.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this particular trip to New Mexico has been particularly rich in viewing birds of prey, both large and small. Just from memory:

  • Bald Eagle
  • Golden Eagle
  • Northern Harrier
  • Ferruginous Hawk
  • Red Tailed Hawk
  • Zone Tailed Hawk... (maybe; briefly over the car, and I remember it was dark, with a black and white tail)
  • Cooper's Hawk and Sharpshinned Hawk
  • Peregrine Falcon, and
  • Kestrel.

..and probably more, but it's hard, sometimes, to get a positive ID on a bird sitting on a yucca when you're driving by on the interstate at 75mph ;-)

Someday, I'll write about how I got so into amateur birding.

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