Welcome to Week #9 of the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #9 challenge is Birds of Prey.
Upcoming challenges can be found on my Bird Weekly Challenge Page.
SORRY I’M LATE. A MAJOR THUNDERSTORM HAD ME TAKE DOWN ALL MY ELECTRONICS FOR 4 HOURS LAST NIGHT JUST AS I WAS STARTING TO WRITE MY BLOGS.
No, this is not a preview to the new 2020 DC Comics Harley Quinn movie, “Birds of Prey”, but you can check out the official site here if interested.
Birds of Prey or raptors include species of birds that primarily hunt and feed on vertebrates that are large relative to the hunter. They have a keen eyesight to find and capture their food, often while flying high in the sky. They have strong talons for grasping and killing their prey and also have strong curved beaks to tear their food apart.
The feature image is one of a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks that we watched do their mating ritual at Spanish Pond in the Timucuans National Preserve. Further below, you will see the pair together.
The Bald Eagle is the symbol of American patriotism. It has been afterall, our Nation’s Bird since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for Native Americans for a lot longer. If Benjamin Franklin had his way, Americans would be honoring the Wild Turkey. Franklin disliked the thieving ways of the Bald Eagle. This bird will harass other raptors such as the Osprey, stealing their food in midair. One part of integrity our national bird has is they are monogamous and mate for life. Their nests will often weigh a ton or 2,000 pounds and will be reused year after year unless it is destroyed by strong winds. The male & female share the duties of hunting while raising their young.
Osprey are found throughout most of North America. They are year round visitors to the Southeast and Northern California. They are known for their fishing ability. They can soar high, swoop down or dive, plucking a fish out of the water. They possess a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and behind. Osprey may log more than 160,000 migration miles during their 15-20 year lifespan. They build nests high on telephone poles, cell phone towers and human made platforms.
Red-shouldered Hawks are found in parts of Mexico, but are mainly found in the mid to eastern parts of the United States, both north and south. They also live year round in parts of California & Oregon. It is the most common hawk in Florida besides the Osprey. The American Crow can often be seen bombing this hawk, but sometimes they work together to attack Great Horned Owls to chase the owls out of the hawk’s territory. Hawks will take owlets out of the nest just as the owls will take hawk chicks out of their nest. Yes, for consumption. Circle of Life…..Eat or be eaten!
Ferruginous Hawks are found from the mid to western parts of the United States and down into Mexico. We spotted this guy on our first night in Montana last September. They are found in prairies, deserts and open ranges. They hunt from a lone tree and in this case an electrical pole. See the tree next to it. It was the only one around. Interesting fact is this hawk along with the Rough-legged Hawk and Golden Eagles are the only American hawks to have feathered legs all the way down to their toes.
A face only a mother could love! The Turkey Vulture is a scavenging bird of prey. It is common in most of North America. It is distinctive by its red head. These birds ride thermals in the sky and circle looking for recently deceased roadkill. They use their keen sense of smell to root out fresh carcasses. Nature’s vacuum cleaner.
The Harris’s Hawk is found in the western states, Texas and Mexico. I’ve only seen one in the wild once and this guy. He lives in Wesley Chapel, Florida. His handler is a licensed Falconer and we had the pleasure of seeing this fine specimen up close and personal. This hawk is the most social of all North American raptors. They cooperate at nests and hunt together as a team. While hunting, a group of Harris’s Hawk will together surround their prey, flush it for another to catch and take turns chasing it. Because of their nature, they are popular among falconers and educational programs.
So, I gave you a small taste last week of the Swallow-tailed Kite. These raptors are one of the coolest birds on the planet with their forked tail and black & white feathers. They migrate to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, spots along the Gulf states, plus parts of Mexico and Central America to breed. For this reason, we don’t put bird seed in our feeders during the summer months. Kites are acrobatic when they hunt. They will role and dive towards their prey which can be dragonflies, frogs, lizards, snakes and nestling birds. Adults swallow their food while flying and rarely perch during the day.
Multiple breeding pairs often nest in the same or nearby trees. The nonbreeding Kites may hang around the same area and bring food and nesting material to the females, but they will decline their offer.
Until next week…Week #10 – Yellow or Orange Legged Birds.