Monday, August 23, 2010

Blakeman on Friday's Juvenile Red-tail and the Cranes of Landmark Corn

Long time contributor, Red-tail expert John Blakeman, had some very perceptive insights concerning the passager (Thanks John for the new word!) featured in the previous post.


You nailed the wire-perched red-tail exactly. The bird has seen voles in the ditch below before, and is hunting there again. I see summer inmatures doing this often, especially after July, when they have to hunt for themselves.

One photo shows the bird with its head slightly erect, and leaning over just a bit. This is the stature of a hungry, hunting passager (first year bird, near migration).

Every falconer would recognize (as you did, too) that hunting posture. The head is slightly elevated, not hunched down into the shoulder.

Then, there's the photo of the bird looking right at it's feet. Not so. It's discovered something vole-like right below, either a glimpse of a vole scooting along down there, or perhaps just a vacant vole runway. No matter what, the hawk saw something of profound interest, related to capturing some animal, almost surely a vole or a mouse at this roadside site.

And you are so correct in describing the bird's patience and time calculations regarding a stoop. By late summer, the bird has learned that it can't just jump off and chase everything it sees. That's what eyasses do in June and July. By now, they've learned that's a waste of time and energy, yielding few prey. Now, the bird, as shown here, does deliberate and calculated perch-hunting.

And it also learned that nothing was available here, so after a while it moved on down to the big pole. None of this is random. It's all a part of deliberate hunting routines the bird is using each day.

John A. Blakeman

Sandhill Crane photos by Paul Anderson

Local mechanical engineer Paul Anderson looked through the back gate and who should he see trekking across the lot, but a family of Sandhill Cranes. Security fences being completely irrelevant,

and undaunted by a human environment...

in a typical Sandhill configuration, Mom leading the expedition, then Junior, with Dad as the rear guard...

the family of Sandhills strode with purpose past the tanks of hazardous Anhydrous Ammonia,

making a beeline for the companies stockpile of corn.

Donegal Browne

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