Monday, October 10, 2011

Prairie Falcon

adult Prairie Falcon (photo by Lynn Schofield)
Last Friday, I went with Lynn and two visiting Dutch birders, Leo and Dick, to the highlands around Perote, Veracruz, where we observed this Prairie Falcon.

We were driving along a power line, scanning the surrounding fields, when the car was stopped and I was informed by Lynn that there was my lifer raptor. Peering out the window on her side, I spotted a distant bird that superficially looked like a Turkey Vulture. I studied it intently for a few seconds, lowered my bins and said, somewhat disappointed, "I think it's a Turkey Vulture." At this point my attention was drawn to a bird much closer, and quite happily I confirmed the initial assessment that here, indeed, was the last North American diurnal raptor I still needed for my 'life list'. What a great bird!

Robert Straub in his Site Guide to the birds of Veracruz mentions this species as a possibility for the site, and there is a 1999 record in eBird for the Perote Valley. Whether this bird winters here incidentally or more regularly is hard to say; observer coverage is thinner here than in the US. The Global Raptor Information Network calls it a "fairly common to common transient and winter visitor from October to March, ranging as high as 2,500 m, in Baja California and in Sonora and Tamaulipas and in the interior south over the plateau to eastern Jalisco and northern Hidalgo."

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