Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A NEW PERSONAL RECORD FOR MOUNTAIN PRAIRIE FALCONS

I photographed this tiercel Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) this morning during a hike in Utah's Wasatch Mountains, at an elevation a bit shy of 7,000 ft. He had just delivered an unidentified food item to the eyrie site, and I could hear two birds klee-chipping for a moment before he came back into the open (when I took this shot), then left. I never saw the falcon, whom I assume was incubating. March 23 would be an early date for Prairie Falcons in the desert lowlands to be on eggs, but it is a good month earlier than any eyrie I've seen before in the Wasatch Mountains. Falcons are prone to abandon their eggs if disturbed too much, so I retreated after discovering the site. Assuming this pair is successful, it will be easy enough to infer the date incubation began once the young are half-grown.
Prairie Falcons do not build a nest, but normally scrape a depression in the bottom of a cliff pothole. Sometimes, as in this case, they will use an old nest of another bird. This nest was originally built by Bushy-tailed Woodrats (Neotoma cinerea), and has been added to by Ravens (Corvus corax) and Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), both of which have used the site over the years.
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Photograph by CPBvK, March 23, 2006

3 Comments:

Blogger (SR71)Atomica said...

Nice shot of that falcon...

BTW did you know that Paramount Pictures uses a peak, in the same mountain range that you found that falcon, in their studio identification frames?
At the end of every Paramount TV programme and the beginning of their movies that is precisely what you will see...a little piece of the Wasatch.

11:43 PM  
Blogger cpbvk said...

Thanks, sr71. I actually have heard that the Paramount logo came from the Wasatch. Here's my understanding: The guy that designed the logo was from Ogden, Utah, and he used memories of Ben Lomond, the big mountain above Ogden, in his design. If you compare the two mountains, though, Ben Lomond isn't nearly as dramatic as its fanciful counterpart.

4:10 PM  
Blogger rich said...

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9:47 PM  

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