Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Has a Falcon! - Scratch That - HAWK!!!

...or possibly a hawk - but I think it's a falcon :)

We've spotted a pair of these (and once a young'un) in my neighborhood many times in the last 3 or 4 years. This is the first time I've caught one on camera. It always raises my spirits to see them.

Suprised the hell outta me. There was a commotion in the avocado tree, at first I thought it was a squirrel. Then I heard my little army (the flock of sparrows) getting very upset, so of course it must be the Felis catus "Predator Mode" and I approached cursing at her... Then I hear "maouw" from the carport and oh - Felis catus is on the ground with me... At that point I turned on the video mode just in time to catch it flying out! That was about two weeks ago, last Sunday I watched it fly from our tree again but no camera :/

The video pretty much sucks. I got a few almost decent pics as you can see. I love my Fujifilm cam, but long distance zoom is not one of its strong points... I'm comparing with photos of LA County birds, but still not sure exactly which species this one is...perhaps Falco peregrinus anatum the American Peregrine Falcon, or "Duck Hawk"...? If anyone out there knows for sure please tell me! Here are the best close-ups:

On a related note I've lived in the same neighborhood my entire life (minus about 18 months) and wildlife was a bit on the scarce side until about 7 or 8 years ago. As a kid I was absolutely thrilled to once see a squirrel at the park down the street and a possum on the next block. Besides the sparrows, crows, mourning doves and pigeons that was it, seriously. I had heard of other wild animals in nearby neighborhoods but never seen them. As a kid I felt a bit cheated.

Now it's different. I don't know what or why but there's alot more diversity around here now and it makes me silly happy :D There are quite a few squirrels on my street (I know they could potentially become an annoyance in my garden but I'm still thrilled they're here!), I see possums on my evening walks, there are the falcons of course, I've spotted an american goldfinch in our cosmos, mom saw a blue jay last week (not sure which specie yet either), and Sunday morning I shooed a young lizard out of our kitchen :) I've also found more different bugs in the yard than I ever saw as a kid, many I've never seen at all!

And so I wonder why now? It makes sense that there's more bug diversity and lizards in our yard - I've grown insect attracters, created more shelter, the flower beds hold more moisture and much longer. But what about the squirrels, possums and falcons? What suddenly brought them to us and got them to decide to stay? They started coming long before we improved our yard. They're certainly not surviving off our garden (although the falcon is making more effort to ambush my army!). Several homes have been improved quite a bit, but (except a highly select few) hardly anyone has gone for a garden suitable to wildlife. I don't think the number of backyard habitats has gone up at all.

So why are they coming?

I have no idea... but I'm definitely encouraging them to stay!

***UPDATE 9/23/10***
I owe a big THANK YOU to Glenn Nevill who responded to this post and was able to tell me - I has a Cooper's HAWK! It pleases me greatly to put a name to these raptors.... hey wait a sec.... I has Raptors! Cue the Jurassic Park soundtrack!!!

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