[Tweeters] Prairie Falcon Sighting

Vicki King vkbirder at gmail.com
Mon Jan 6 17:10:55 PST 2014

Yesterday around 3 pm those of us on a Seattle Mountaineer Naturalists
field trip to the Skagit Flats enjoyed the amazing spectacle of thousands
of Snow Geese flying in and foraging in a field north of Sunset and west of
Chuckanut drive. (Eighteen Bald Eagles were on hand in the field just
south of this enormous flock.) With Short-eared Owls our remaining target
species for the day, we eventually left, turned north on Chuckanut Dr. As
we turned from Chuckanut onto Edison, Sue Yates, one of the trip leaders,
spotted a falcon perched in a tree at the corner of Bow Hill Road and
Chuckanut Drive. When we stopped at the East 90, she reported her sighting
and our group drove back to the corner.

At first, we saw only a Red-tailed Hawk high up in a nearby tree. Then it
flew off toward the south and we watched as a falcon came streaking after
the hawk. We couldn't see what happened but soon the falcon returned and
perched in a tall fir tree on the north side of Bow Hill Road, about a
block east of the intersection with Chuckanut. It was partially obscured
from our initial vantage point but it looked large. We moved closer and
eventually got good looks at the falcon from the back. Given its size and
the fact that it had chased the Red-tailed Hawk, I jumped to the
conclusion/hoped it might be a Gyrfalcon, perhaps an immature since the
plumage was brown. Fortunately, my husband Jim was able to get some clear

When we arrived at the West 90, Libby Mills was in the parking lot. She
was kind enough to look at Jim's photos and indicated that the bird in the
photos looked a lot like a Prairie Falcon. When we got home, the photos in
books I consulted all pointed to the same answer.
So, we didn't see a Gyrfalcon but we had great looks at a Prairie Falcon.

Here's a link to some of the photos:

Vicki King
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