Raptors of Shoshone Tecopa and the Amargosa River
Just about every type of Vulture,Hawk, Eagle, and Falcon appear in our area at some time .
Here are a few of my favorites.
Northern Harrier (juvenile plumage)
Northern Harriers breed regularly in Shoshone, and Tecopa Marsh. On the first night that I arrived here from Maine in 2009, I witnessed the “mid-air food toss” at sunset of the male Northern Harrier dropping a fresh prey item in flight to the female who swooped up, grabbed it easily and disappeared back down into the nest area. I have been hooked on Harries ever since. They are present year round in Tecopa Marsh but the birds are not necessarily the same individuals year round. On Tecopa Marsh, Harriers often easily move Coyotes away from the nest area by landing near the Coyote, allowing it to approach, then moving to an enticing nearby spot, and repeating the process until the Coyote is out of the Harrier territory. Northern Harrier is a “California Species of Special Concern” due to marsh-like habitat destruction throughout California.
Their plumages are completely different. Northern Harriers are easy to identify with a little practice, and can be found in marshes from Alaska to Central America.
There are 13 Species of Harriers in the world. Our Northern Harrier is extremely closely related to the Hen Harrier which occupies similar habitat types throughout the Northeastern Hemisphere, from Portugal to Japan.
At 7.5”-8” this is the 2nd smallest of all the worlds’ 39 Falcon species, all in the genus Falco. Only the Seychelles Kestrel is smaller.American Kestrel has a huge range. It covers most of the Western Hemisphere from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.. They are beautiful, graceful, and take a variety of prey from grasshoppers, dragonflies, to lizards, and small birds.
Locally, Kestrels are often seen in winter hunting from power poles and wires around Shoshone, and a pair is often found around Tecopa Marsh, and or the Amargosa Canyon during breeding. Kestrels will use a nest box of the following dimensions.
Prairie Falcons are our year round resident falcon. They do breed in this area, I have found their nests more than once. They breed up on high cliffs. Prairie Falcons average only slightly smaller than Peregrine Falcons. Reverse sexual dimorphism is apparent in the size differences between males and females. According to “Falcons of the World” by Tom J. Cade, males weigh as low as 17.5 ounces and at the most 22.5 ounces, females as much as 34.5 ounces. Imagine a 17.5 ounce male and a 34.5 ounce female! When seen as a pair they seem almost a different species. Prairie Falcons can take a great variety of prey items from large insects and small birds to Chuckwallas Desert Iguanas, Desert Cottontails, Black-tailed Jackrabbits, and any type of rodents.
|See the powerful legs of Prairie Falcon|