Bird Lady Blog

June 16, 2013

Falcons, Ospreys, and “Oops”!


Osprey courtesy of Gordon Karre

Osprey courtesy of Gordon Karre

I will start with the “oops”!  One of my golfing friends said to me after the last article was published, “We’ve been seeing these beautiful yellow and red birds you mentioned – you know, the Summer Tanagers.”  I replied, “Oh, you mean Western Tanagers”.  No, she countered:  “The birds you mentioned in the last Pinewood News – the Summer Tanagers.”  “Really?” I said.  So I went back and read and article and lo’ and behold, I realized I had goofed.  I meant Western Tanager but wrote Summer Tanager.

Maybe it’s because I wrote that article at 30,000 feet up flying back from the Horicon Marsh birding festival in Wisconsin.  Or maybe it was because I was thinking about spending the SUMMER in Munds Park.  Regardless, I goofed and apologize.  The Western Tanager likes coniferous forests.  The Summer Tanager can be found in Arizona, but usually not at an elevation as high as in Munds Park.  So if you see a slender, medium-sized bird with a brilliant red head and bright yellow body, black back, black wings with white wing bars, and a black tail – that would be the Western Tanager.  One did show up around our back deck and I hope it will again.  By the way, the first written record of it dated back to the Lewis and Clark expedition.

While golfing I spotted a Peregrine Falcon.  It was in the air, flying more than soaring, and then after a while took a dive down behind the condos off the 10th fairway.  The wing structure was right, the view from the bottom was just like that in my field guide, and the head had a black hood and sideburns.  So that is a first for me for Munds Park.  I’m glad I carry a pair of binoculars in my golf bag.

Peregrine Falcons were on the endangered species list for many years, almost decimated from exposure to DDT in insecticides.  They have had a successful recovery since DDT was banned and were taken off the endangered species list in 1999.  I have seen one of these birds during migration over the Grand Canyon (that was my first spotting) and also saw two way above the Chicago skyline when we were touring at the top of the old Sears Tower – about 100 stories up.  Peregrine Falcons do live in cities, preying on Rock Pigeons.  So just like the City Mouse and the Country Mouse, there are City Peregrine Falcons and Country Peregrine Falcons.

I was very happy to see the Osprey back.  You can find it at Lake Odell, flying and fishing, perched on the dead tree on the south side of the Lake, or perhaps in a nest.  The nest in past years has been on the east side of the Lake.  Since I don’t spend winters here, I have no idea how long the Osprey family stays in Munds Park.  If any of you year-round residents have seen it over the winter months, I would like to know.

The Osprey feeds entirely on fish.  When it takes a large fish to the nest or perch, it moves it around so that the head faces in the direction it is flying – presumably to increase the aerodynamics.  It’s all about survival of the fittest, and this species has its own techniques to increase its chances of success in the wild.

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