Sunday, October 6, 2013

Prairie Falcon

Prairie Falcons breed across much of the western United States, Baja California, north-central Mexico and barely extending into southestern Canada. They fill in non-breeding areas in the winter, moving east into the Dakotas south to central Texas—perhaps as far east as western Minnesota. Their narrow “mustache” stripes and black “armpits,” visible on flying birds, are keys to identification. This photograph was taken in central South Dakota.

Breeding birds prefer dry habitat and nest along cliffs and buttes. They prey upon ground squirrels and birds. In the winter, they favor Horned Larks and Western Meadowlarks. Being basically a desert bird, Prairie Falcons avoided the onslaught of DTT and other pesticides better than did many other raptors. Now the birds face "agricultural encroachment, livestock-grazing, energy development activities, off-road vehicle use, and military training” (Steenhof 1998).

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