[Tweeters] Falcons and Bugs

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Mon Aug 11 16:30:27 PDT 2014

Thanks to Barb Deihl for sharing anecdotes about watching Merlins nabbing flying dragonflies - something I've yet to see myself, but hope to someday .I was about to say that I've never seen any other kind of bird nab a flying dragon, but I just remembered, I did see a Canyon Wren pounce on one fair - sized one just taking off of a Bald Cypress root down on Cibolo Creek , in Boerne Texas, so I guess that counts. If you see a Canyon Wren and a Bald Cypress together, you might be in Texas.
Back to falcons and bugs (this could've been titled 'Fords and Volkswagen's' if tweeters was a car site).
I have seen Falcons eating bugs - grasshoppers. I mentioned this last fall after watching Kestrels diving for what I presumed were grasshoppers as they were coming back to perch and eat something a bit too small to see from the road.
Rob Sandelin posted me back about being surrounded by Kestrels bloated by feeding on swarms of giant grasshoppers in the Napeequa Valley one year. Sounded pretty cool.
That reminded me of the first time I saw this phenomenon, way back in 1974 when I worked at Mt. Rainier. It was the first week of September and I was out hiking all around the Sunrise area, and came across a quite a number of grasshopper-eatin' Kestrels.
By that time of year the grasshoppers had eaten their way up the meadows until they were concentrated on the top of Sourdough ridge, which happened to be about the perfect place for a Kestrel to catch a draft and engage in bug catching. I watched this for hours.The updrafts were such that a Kestrel could sit perfectly still in the sky without flapping. A video of this phenomenon wouldn't show much more than still photograph would. Neat.
I'd read (in an old source I can't find again) about the nice raptor migration at Sunrise in the last week of August and the first week of September, and found it to be true. Not big numbers, but quite a variety of stuff cruising by - both Eagles, Red-tails, all the Accipiters,Prairie Falcon, and an Osprey.
The bird of the trip though, was a beautiful dark phase Swainson's Hawk seen up-close as it perched in a nearby fir just below us. "The Chocolate Hawk" I pronounced it.
By the way, according to Seattle Audubon's Birdweb, the Swainson's Hawk counts both grasshoppers and dragonflies as a major part of its diet during winter and migration.
Jeff Gibsonbugging you again, fromPort Townsend Wa

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