The Falcon Thief: A Book Review

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It didn’t occur to me till I started reading The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird that there was also a possible threat to the eagle herself: poachers, who steal raptor eggs and chicks. The Falcon Thief has come along at a good time.

Electric falcon

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It is barely visible, but on it there seems to be an endangered Saker Falcon. We were searching for the territories of Saker Falcons. Serbia holds 13 per cent of the European breeding population of this “electrified” species which is not only Endangered in Europe but also listed as Globally Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Okay, but falcons do not nest in the grass? A bit further away, another occupied nest: a falcon!

The Beach Falcon

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Long and very narrow – too long and too narrow even for a falcon, all but one: Eleonora’s Falcon ! Somehow, the length of its wings is apparent only in the first second, after that, it does become a falcon-like falcon.). Two-thirds of the world’s population breeds colonially on Greek islands. Young Eleonora’s Falcons must develop quickly because they are migrants themselves, moving across the Sahara and down the Swahili Coast to Madagascar.

Peregrine Falcon in Broome

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On December 7th an odd looking Peregrine Falcon was observed in Broome at the Sports Ova l. In Australia we often observe Peregrine Falcons and they are the subspecies Falco peregrinus macropus. The Australian Peregrine Falcons have a distinct grey hood around their head and neck area, but this new arrival to Broome had quite a different facial pattern. Peregrine Falcon on the light tower! Peregrine Falcon on the light tower.

Listening to Falcons: The Peregrines of Tom Cade

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That summer of 1938, when he was ten years old, Cade read of two brothers, Frank and John Craighead, who wrote of their experiences with falcons in National Geographic. I knew no falconers. ” Falcons could be taken from the nest just before they were able to fly or caught wild after maturity. Except for the falconer’s jesses and bell, they were to be allowed freedom to pursue life in the wild, life with minimal human contact.

2019 52

Peregrine Falcons at the National Wildlife Refuges

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Peregrine Falcon ( Falco peregrinus ) at Delevan NWR (click on photos for full sized images). I’m sure most of you know that the Peregrine Falcon became an endangered species because of the use of organochlorine pesticides, especially DDT, during the 1950′s, 60′s, and 70′s. Peregrine Falcon at Delevan National Wildlife Refuge. Flying in excess of 200 mph in a stoop, the Peregrine Falcon is considered to be the world’s fastest animal.

A Disturbing Development

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A recent paper published in the French journal Alauda (sadly, it appears not to be available in English online yet, but here’s the gist ) brings us news that Eleonora’s Falcons breeding on the archipelago of Essaouira have been caching prey during breeding season. This seems to be the first time such behavior has been recorded in these falcons, or any raptors. What are they up to, out there on the uninhabited islands where they prefer to breed?

2015 54

Kamikaze Pigeons and a War to Extinction

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I am inside the city of Belgrade, checking the theoretically possible Peregrine Falcon site. Yet, not a trace of a falcon. ” Falcons do hunt pigeons, we all know that, but what is a Kamikaze pigeon? The falcon, obviously, goes after the slowest pigeon, takes it in mid-air and brings it to its nest, where it starts plucking it up for its chicks and quickly succumbs to the poison, as shown in this Peregrine nest camera footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kKoL3sdbaQ.

2015 60

Birding Deliblato Sands: What I have seen and what I haven’t

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On the opposite side is a smallish falcon, obviously too short-tailed for a Common Kestrel, a Eurasian Hobby first comes to mind… but a male Red-footed Falcon on migration it turns out to be. They do not build nests, but occupy old nests of Rooks and breed colonially among them. Red-footed Falcon’s breeding range starts less than 50 mi north of here and I hope that some will choose to join a local rookery and stay.

2018 42

De arte venandi cum avibus: San Martino Siir (2015) – Aglianico del Vulture DOC

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So, in writing his own falconry treatise, Frederick drew on all sources of knowledge on birds available to him at the time, including the Aristotelian tradition inherited from antiquity, medieval bestiaries imbued with preordained Christian morality and symbolism rather than the careful observation of natural phenomena, as well as translations of later, more enlightened works by Arab falconers and scholars.

2019 43

Birding Greece: Black and white world

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Now I break (and think that I should put a „I break for birds“ bumper sticker), bins… a falcon! An Eleonora’s Falcon , light morph, makes several circles above the Olive grove and it is gone. These falcons mostly feed on insects, but in the breeding season they catch migrating passerines – they even time their breeding to coincide with Autumn migration of passerines in late summer! Eleonora’s Falcons are migrants themselves.

Backyard Birdfeeder Bragging Rights, a Great Adventure for a Great Twitch, and More: This Week in Birding News

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Let us no more speak of this week’s extraordinary failure by a cast of Falcons to finish off their prey. Breeding bird surveys appears to show the resplendent Allen’s Hummingbird (like Corey’s capture, above) in decline—but not in Southern California, where examination of eBird data reveals that members of a residential population appear to be faring much better than their migrating brethren. (To

2017 40

Winter Mission

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Ferruginous Hawks breed in the grasslands of eastern Montana, but they are rare in the mountains and in winter, so this bird was certainly a surprise. And not far from that scene was my personal highlight of the day, when my life Prairie Falcon swooped across the road, circled back, and came over the car only a few feet above my head, then perched with prey and let us all observe her clearly for several minutes. Birding Mission valley Prairie falcon raptors

2014 56

AOU 53rd supplement: Highlights and near misses

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Falcons split from hawks to join parrots and songbirds Unanimously, the committee voted to remove falcons (Falconiformes) and parrots (Psittaciformes) from their current positions in the list and place them before the songbirds (Passeriformes), more closely to reflect the relationships between these three great orders. waters every year after breeding. Birds AOU falcons finches parrots taxonomy taxonomy and systematics

2012 58

Great Kestrel Count 2011

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Those bigger birds of prey command respect, but it’s not like falcons are unknown. Even outside of Atlanta , Peregrine Falcons spend their breeding seasons smiling for the ( web ) camera from atop edifices all across the country. But ask the average Joe if he’s ever seen a tiny blue-and-orange falcon and you’re likely to get laughed at. Birding bird count falcons kestrelKestrels may be the coolest raptors nobody knows of.

2011 55

Brown birds near Broome

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This land is currently very green from the recent rains and in very wet years it floods and becomes a great breeding area for terns. Brown Songlark The next bird we came across taking advantage of the fence was a Brown Falcon and it had been sitting on a termite mound as we approached and moved to the fence. Brown Falcon Now this fence supports a lot of birds and we had rows of Horsfield’s Bushlarks and they were by far the most common “fence” bird.

2012 55

Checklist of the Birds of Westeros

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And some Falcon , most likely mixed breed, because it belonged to falconry, not the skies. Falcons – Gyrfalcon. Now that the Mad Queen is dead, Brandon the Broken, First of His Name, is the King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Six Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm; and peace is restored in all the kingdoms, would you want to bird Westeros? I am not talking the filming locations, but the imaginary kingdoms themselves.

2019 51

Habitat Mash-up

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We only saw the first two, and in our effort to scour each broken limb for a perched raptor, we stumbled upon a Bat Falcon of all creatures. Bat Falcon in the now blazing sun. The southwest peninsula of Trinidad is unfortunately rarely birded by visiting birders.

Keeping Cool in Tierra Caliente, part 2

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And breeding season allows me to notice certain details that I might miss during the rest of the year. I had never seen the orange legs that this breeding adult is showing, as opposed to the yellow-green legs of the immature one below it.

Best Time to Bird South Florida? Fall Migration

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The burgeoning number of waders in the fall reminds locals that many herons and egrets disperse northward during the late spring and early summer to breed and feed, returning in the late summer and fall to seek refuge from the oncoming cold and lack of food.

2020 73

Nature is Tough

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Several hours after we saw it and reported it to the listserv other birders saw the bird attacked by not one but two Peregrine Falcons. One strafed it and caused it to flush and the second grabbed it in the air and then dropped the now dead Baird’s Sandpiper which the first falcon swooped back for and grabbed just before it hit the ground. From a symbol (to me) of resilience to a falcon’s plaything in a few hours.

2016 55

Crowded beaches

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The flocks are getting smaller day by day as they migrate to the northern hemisphere to breed. The shorebirds will then spread out across the tundra to breed and they will no longer be close to each other. The shorebirds have been feeding up and changing into their breeding plumage.

2020 57

A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds–A Book Review

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This is the hook that draws us into reading about and caring about migrant birds, that and the charisma of birds like Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Kirtland’s Warbler, Snowy Owl, and Amur Falcon. Ask any birder–migration is joy.

Swainson’s Hawks in Plumas County

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Each autumn, nearly the entire breeding population of the Swainson’s Hawk migrates from the temperate zone of North America to wintering areas in South America. From Canada, this migration is more than 10,000 km each way, a distance second among raptors only to that of the Arctic Peregrine Falcon 1. Like most buteos, the Swainson’s Hawk feeds its young rodents, rabbits and reptiles but not so during non-breeding season.

2014 56

The top-5 birds of 2018

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Red-footed Falcon by BartBotje/Wikimedia Commons. The next specialty is the Red-footed Falcon in the Deliblato Sands Nature Reserve in the east of Serbia: “Two European Rollers await us on the wires, while one Eurasian Hoopoe flies by. On the opposite side is a smallish falcon, obviously too short-tailed for a Common Kestrel , a Eurasian Hobby first comes to mind… but a male Red-footed Falcon on migration it turns out to be.

2018 43

My Championship Hummingbird Season

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For us, it’s all about birds moving north during the warm season to breed, and south to escape the winter cold.

2020 57

Finding birds in Deliblato Sands, part 1/3: the largest sand dune system of Europe

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During May migration, European Roller and few dozen strong flocks of Red-footed Falcons were observed on the wires. When to go: breeding and migration seasons (April to June and late August to mid-September).

2020 66

Serbia – birding overview of a year in the Central Balkans

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Depending on your particular interest, opt for March/April (spring migration), May/June (breeding season), August to October (autumn migration), or November/December when waterbird migration reaches its peak. Red-footed Falcons , Whiskered and Black Terns by mid-April, White-winged Terns are passing about a week later. Breeding season May – June , 261 eBirded species (yet, only about 242 breed in the country).

2018 45

Corporate Branding of Birds for Conservation: A Modest Proposal

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“So, for a relatively small contribution to habitat preservation, or captive breeding programs, or some minor climate change mitigation…” here a small covey of oil executives rustled and began to puff up, “really quite small, by your standards, you too could have a longspur. “We’ll take the Peregrine Falcon ,” at least seven voices said at once. “The Peregrine Falcon isn’t even that rare anymore!”

2019 51

Fancy Pigeon Blues

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Introduced as they are over much of their range, they’ve nevertheless become a crucial part of the urban ecosystem, recycling discarded french fries into tasty meals for falcons in a way that surpasses human ingenuity (although there are few stats on the rate of clogged arteries among the falcons in question.). Do much birding in the city, and your thoughts will turn again and again to feral pigeons.

2015 56

Whitewash the truth

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We also have a richness of falcons. Within 4 kilometres of where I live there are two active aeries, a Gyrfalcon’s and a Peregrine Falcon’s. Against a bright blue sky I watched another Peregrine hunting over the tundra where I’d been just watching Red-throated Loons , Snow Buntings , Lapland Longspurs and Rock Ptarmigan in their mad rush to breed in the short summer. A waterfall on the St George’s Society Cliffs.

2011 57

Post Apocalyptic Steampunk Birding

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The subtle white edging to the gape of this bird indicates it is near breeding time. I had never seen a Peregrine Falcon soaring with Black Vultures before – interestingly enough I would later see the very same occurrence two days later on another part of the island.

2020 62

Is falconry a good thing?

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This last week I was out with a falconer that had an absolutely stunning pale form Gyrfalcon ( Falco rusticolus ) and the beauty of this wonderful bird really touched me. In the 1970′s and 1980′s, organizations like the Peregrine Fund effectively used captive breeding of – initially – Peregrine Falcons to re-establish wild populations and effectively changed the course of the peregrine’s future.

2011 63

The Top-5 Birding Hotspots of Serbia

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Black Stork and three pairs of White-tailed Eagles breed here. Other birds of the Rusanda are Great Bittern , Purple Heron , Eurasian Spoonbill , Meadow and rare Red-throated Pipit , Icterine Warbler , Eurasian Penduline Tit , Lesser Gray Shrike , breeding Red-footed Falcon , Little and Long-eared Owls , etc. In some years, Spanish Sparrows were reported breeding inside White Storks nests in Sakule. “I would certainly recommend Serbia to visiting birders.

Lake Cuitzeo gets good

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Oddly, I saw no Snowy Plovers, even though these apparently breed by the lakeshore. None were as satisfying as a Red-tailed Hawk that flew in lazy circles just overhead, and, to my amazement, a Peregrine Falcon that did the same. Having come back to Mexico from Europe, I chose to make my first home outing to my local lake, Lake Cuitzeo.

2019 47

Birding from a Hide

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For example, the White-headed Duck is nowadays a rarity in Europe (okay, excluding Spain, I know… that Spain …), but until some 50 years ago, it used to breed in Serbia. The next, Palic 2 hide, overlooks two artificial islands with breeding colonies of Pygmy and Great Cormorants and, and at the other, of Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls. The hide overlooking the breeding colony of Red-footed Falcons. What do you think makes for a good bird hide?

2015 69

Greenland’s Arctic Tern

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There is a total of 235 different bird species in Greenland, most of them are migratory birds with approximately 60 species breeding within the land. Some of the most common breeding birds are White-tailed Eagles , Northern Fulmars , Black Guillemots , Common Eiders , Rock Ptarmigans , and Arctic Terns. The preservation was primarily set in action due to the archipelago’s intact birdlife and the great amount of breeding Arctic terns living there.

2014 59

Brewery Ommegang: Idyll Days Pilsner

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And as the windblown birds settled down for the summer breeding season and the wind subsided, I found any concern for which way it was blowing died down with it.

2020 57

Saving the Drowning Cormorant, or the Kerkini Lake, Greece

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The Kerkini Lake National Park is my favourite birding area in the whole of the Balkans and while I’ve been here in April and again (migration), September (migration), October (coffee break), December and January (wintering), this was my first time in the breeding season, in May. Five years ago, I observed Dalmatian Pelicans breeding on purpose-built platforms. They have sloping sides and a flat top, meant for birds to breed on.

2019 52

Help me Choose the Bird Specialties of Belgrade

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Belgrade’s tourism symbol is – a House Sparrow (no one is able to tell me why), and while Belgrade has six to seven pairs of WTE – one of them breeding at the river island reserve practically in the city centre and with a beach visited by more than a hundred thousand sun bathers every summer, Belgrade’s ecotourism income equals 0 pounds, dollars, dinars – whatever. Pygmy Cormorant – winter (it breeds in Serbia, but overwinters in Belgrade).

2014 55

Birding News from Costa Rica at the Start of the Pandemic

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The Birding Club of Costa Rica even held a pandemic yard bird competition to see who could see the most from their respective homes (the winners had more than 80 species including Laughing Falcon ). Breeding season that is, and it’s just around the corner.

Prespa Lakes National Park, Greece: the largest Dalmatian Pelican colony in the world

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Add more than 350 pairs of White Pelicans to that picture, numerous herons and up to 700 pairs of Pygmy Cormorants breeding in the same reedbeds (cover photo)… It must be bursting with activity in spring, but I was there in mid-September. Pelicans and cormorants breeding at the Mikri often go to the Megali Prespa to fish the cold, deep waters – actually, cormorants to dive for fish and pelicans to wait for the cormorants at the surface to steal their prey.

The “Rufa” Red Knot is now protected under the Endangered Species Act

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One of the two sub-species of Red Knot occurring in North America, the Rufa subspecies breeds in the Canadian Artic Region and migrates along the east or Atlantic coast of the United States. The other sub-species, Calidris canutus roselaari , migrates along the Pacific Coast and breeds in Alaska and the Wrangel Island in Russia. Red Knot in non-breeding plumage. The knot’s breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic are experiencing pronounced effects from climate change.