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June 2019
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ONLINE NEWSLETTER
 
FALCONS: SPEED, ALTITUDE & ATTITUDE


Falcons:
Think of these guys as the F-16 fighter jets of the raptor world. They’re lean, mean, and a bit pointy. Like a fighter jet, they’re built to chase down prey in open country. Peregrine falcons routinely attack ducks in mid-air, stunning or killing them on impact, and taking them to ground to finish them off. Peregrines, like most falcons, have attitude. If you see one in flight, its silhouette looks like this:

Catalina falcons include the American kestrel, the merlin and the peregrine falcon. We covered identification of kestrels in last month’s Island Naturalist (Issue #13 in the column at the right) and they are by far the most common falcon you’ll see. American kestrels are known to science as Falco sparverius. Note that the male sports the very colorful blue, brown and buff plumage, while the female is more camouflaged in browns and buffs.

Both sexes of merlins look a lot like female kestrels, though they’re much stouter, have a more pronounced striped breast and, most importantly, have a grey to grayish blue back, where the kestrel female has a brown/buff back. Raptor experts also note that the merlin, known to science as Falco columbarius, has a more aggressive attitude.

The peregrine falcon, known to science as Falco peregrinus, while having the same shape in flight, is significantly larger and stouter, with a very pronounced black “helmet” and more pronounced malar stripes (remember those dark marks under the eyes that cut glare).






THE ISLAND NATURALIST
Issue #14 / Diurnal Raptors II


IN THIS ISSUE...


Buteos: Built for Soaring
Accipiters: Sleek Maneuverability
Fact or Fiction?: Falcons Fastest Birds
Did You Know … Raptors’ Sight Superior       





Catalina Island Conservancy file photo

A peregrine falcon readies for a landing. Note the classic “helmet” and malar stripes under the eyes.



Missed recent issues?
Issue #1 / All About Bison

Issue #2 / All About Birds

Issue #3 / All About Plants
Issue #4 / All About Eagles
Issue #5 / All About Ravens & Crows
Issue #6 / All About Natives & Invasives  
Issue #7 / All About Rain
Issue #8 / All About Bison Roundup
Issue #9 / All About Foxes
Issue #10 / All About Weeds
Issue #11 / All About Eagle Hatchlings
Issue #12 / All About Snakes
Issue #13 / All About Diurnal Raptors

 

 

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