Monday, June 06, 2011

Avian Drama, Home Version

In remote, dirt- road Magdalena, wildlife comes into town. Deer track through the central arroyo, followed by mountain lions. An adolescent lion got himself cornered and darted in the High school yard a couple of years ago; a bear went up an electric pole and was electrocuted the same year. Coyotes challenge the hounds from inside town limits before dawn and reduce them to a fury of howling.

But birds, even ones you don't think of as human commensals, can be even bolder, going about their lives in the artificial canyons and woodlands with little attention to humans. The following sequence yesterday begins with my shooting from my own front porch facing south and pointing just slightly west and to the right. Apologies for quality-- I was using a point- and- shoot that lags when you push the button, while trying to time myself to catch the falcon's rushes. All but the last will enlarge twice if clicked on-- it will go only once.

I was dozing over my book about 4 PM when I was roused by a mad chorus of raven croaks and kestrel "kleekleeklee!" alarm notes. I went out to see a raven standing in the street 100 feet away. Ravens don't do that.

He had evidently been poking his sinister beak into that little hole in the upper right corner of the storage shed across the street, where the falcon's eggs had hatched, and the female had caught him. She stooped at him again and again until she drove him to the ground, though he must easily have weighed three times as much, until he was squawking and ducking and trying to get under the hedge.

She hit him again and again, turning over at the end of each swing or hanging in the wind between strikes (click to enlarge-- she is at upper right).

Only my coming forward to try to take a closer photo finally gave the raven an opportunity to break away, while mother kestrel cursed impartially at me. The raven was not visiting today...

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