Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mating season for backyard raptors

Prairie Falcon photo by Ned Harris
This morning we watched an aerial ballet high in the sky above our backyard. A falcon was soaring, but with his feet hanging down, then banking, spreading his tail feathers, diving a little, catching himself again...I first thought that it was a Kestrel hunting insects. But when Randy brought my binoculars I recognized it as a bigger bird, a Prairie Falcon. He kept circling, diving and banking for more than 5 minutes and was finally joined by his partner. They circled together and then sped up towards Panther Peak.

 We don't seem to have an American Kestrel pair in our saguaro this year, but we sometimes hear  mating calls and see the male fly over. They are probably nesting in the State Land to the north.

Our Dark Female, the Red-tailed Hawk, has flown over a couple of time too, and now she is settling in the Saguaro nest that she used two years ago, she seems to alternate nests regularly. Both sites are along a wash in the state land, only about 300 feet apart.

Great Horned Owls are hooting at night from the Twin Peak on the east side of our land. We found a dead one this winter, but there must be a resident pair again.
 We also found a dead adult Harris Hawk. We have no power lines here that could electrocute them. I hope they aren't dying from an environmental poison. High in the food chain, raptors are always at risk.   

The Cooper's Hawks are also getting territorial. For the first time ever I saw the female go very aggressively after a juvenile Red-tail that likes to hang around.
We also have a ghost, a silver grey male Northern Harrier, but he only visits regularly every winter and then disappears for the breeding season.
With all those raptors getting ready to breed, we are hoping for enough rain to keep the land green and productive. But does the next storm have to hit right during my next art show in Dove Mountain? On my birthday???


  1. Wonderful shots, it is always a treat to have them visit. I too am waiting to see which of our regulars will choose to nest on our land - such a pleasure.

  2. =) It's so fun to see these aerial masters display for each other, rolling, etc. Delightful.

    I hope your art show is not too dampened by the rain. =)

  3. Such beautiful photography of some of my favorite birds, not good to have them dying, I agree. Listening to them is such a thrill.