[Tweeters] CWA Raptor Nest Checks and Possible Injured Prairie Falcon - 5/10/13

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Sun May 12 17:46:50 PDT 2013

Headed to the heat in Central WA on Friday, but it was a balmy, gently breezy afternoon and evening, maybe getting up into the 80's, but perfect for my low-exertion birding from Cle Elum to Canyon Road's end.

Cruised slowly down the Northern Pacific Ponds Rd. and back, near S. Cle Elum - got a few nice scenic photos, but saw no woodpeckers or tanagers or orioles or bluebirds - no sign of any Osprey on the platform, nor any Northern Roughwinged Swallows. Heard some sparrow calls and maybe a Yellow Warbler.

On to the Raven/Turkey Vulture/Cliff Swallow/former Prairie Falcon cliffs on Hiwy 10, after dipping on dippers at the "Dipper Bridge", also on Hiwy 10. The Teanaway and other creeks and rivers in the area were high and fast-moving, and looked dirtier than last week. Water covered most of those nice rocks at the Dipper Bridge :-(

At "The Cliffs" 2 adult Common Ravens were chasing off and dive-bombing a Turkey Vulture that was getting too close to their 5 gaping, screaming chicks in the nest in the large vertical-ish crack - it was fun to watch the vulture appear whenever an adult went past or to the nest, with or without morsels for the kids. And, when a raven hit the vulture, there was quite an unusual, semi-explosive sound that the vulture put out. The ravens were always on top of the vulture's whereabouts and persistently convinced it to move on. Finally the vulture took up a perch on the ground at the base of the cliffs, feigning indifference to the whole raven family, and seemed to busy itself with cleaning off its head !

Cliff Swallows are starting to arrive and build their nests there.

Stopped at the Great Horned Owl site at between Milepost 101 and 102 on Hiwy 10. The 2 owlets were branching and flapping their wings, but very blocked by the cottonwood leaves, which are now filling in much of the spaces through which they were somewhat visible in the past month or more.

The Reecer Crk Rd. Red-tailed Hawk nest was brimming with white fluffers, which seemed to be enervated by the heat (they are pretty much out in the open in that nest). Initially they were calling out to a parent who was flying around nearby, but soon their heads flopped and they turned into ragdoll versions of the "fierce" hawks they will one day be.

At around 6 p.m. I meandered down Canyon Rd. outside of Ellensburg, past the Kittitas/Yakima County line to the big pullout just beyond that. No sign of any Prairie Falcons for 5 -10 min., but once I sat down in my camping chair to watch and listen, then I started hearing some PRFA cries and calls, saw a female come in to an outcropping and go into a large horizontal slit cave. A short while later she came back out and perched nearby. In the next hour-and-a-half or so, she left the perch only once that I saw, to follow the male a bit, after he swung by for a "Hi", but didn't seem to leave any dinner with her (I could have missed it, though), and flew again up to the clifftops and on over, to hunt some more, I presume. Once he glided over the cliffs and on down to perch in a series of cliffs SW of the outcropping at which I was seeing the female. This outcropping is not the one I mentioned last week, but the one to the left of it. The male was quite a bit whiter than the female and really looked splendid out on his ledge - I hurried to get a photo, but naturally, just a micro-second before I snapped the shutter, he must have taken off, as my image shows only cliffs and no regal falcon inside the frame they made.

I managed to digiscope some fairly nice images of the female, but once I looked more closely at them on my computer, I was shocked to notice that one of her feet looked bloody, she favored it and seemed to keep it hidden most of the time. I hope it isn't as bad as it looks in my photos (which leave room for several interpretations of what may have happened). If you take a look at my Flickr set of photos of the "Injured?" Prairie Falcon, perhaps you will be able to come up with some thoughts as to what it all means. Are these falcons just messy eaters ? :-)

link to my 2 sets of photos from this outing on 5/10/13:

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjF5tbvN - "Injured Prairie Falcon?"

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjF5yfNh - "Rest of CWA Nest Checks"

The individual images have explanatory captions if you look at them one at a time and not in the "slideshow" mode.

Here's hoping that my next visits will find all going well for the PRFA family and that some of you can get down there to watch them in the next month.

Happy Raptoring!

Barb Deihl

North Matthews Beach - NE Seattle

barbdeihl at comcast.net

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