Saturday, May 8, 2010

More birding news

Sometimes I find small masses of feathers in my yard. It looks as if a bird has exploded, leaving nothing behind but its feathers.

I've usually blamed cats. It makes sense the pets and resident ferals might want a little fresh meat. I'm not happy about it, and I make sure the cats stay well fed. I hope full tummies make it less likely that they will hunt and kill birds.

Today, I found that I was probably mistaken about what causes the leftover feather piles.

I had stepped outside to feed the two feral/stray cats, and I noticed something odd in the street. It was a bird, about the size of a crow, but most definitely not a crow. It was one of the smaller raptors that I see sometimes, but I've never seen one closely enough to identify it. I usually see them backlit against the sky, streaking across at a speed that makes it impossible for me to identify them.

It was quite busy ripping into something, so I was able to step back into the house and yell for Keith to get out of bed immediately and look out the window. I went for the camera.

He was able to see it, but when I went back to the door, the bird had turned my way. Great. I knew my camera wasn't strong enough to get a picture through the screen door from as far away as I was, so I decided to take a chance and go outside. It let me get out the door, then it took off with something dangling from its talons.

I went to my trusty Roger Tory Peterson bird identification book and found that I'd seen a peregrine falcon. Then I checked the range map for it. After looking at that, I checked the copywrite of my book. 1980. Bird populations have changed a lot since 1980. I think it's time to order a new bird id book.

After that, I just had to go outside and see what it had been eating. There in the road was what looked like a feather explosion. Now I know I can no longer blame the cats for them, and I have evidence that the raptors do circle around our house, checking out who is visiting the bird feeders. It's been an interesting morning.

1 comment:

trh said...

We had that going on here too - deep in the heart of Buckhead. We had peregrines, red tails, red shoulders and even kestrals. In fact, the first bird in Georgia that had the West Nile was found less tha a block from here and it was one of my hawks. I used to have lots of blue jays, but no more.