[Tweeters] Raptor ID thanks!

Tim Brennan tsbrennan at hotmail.com
Sat Oct 29 08:35:29 PDT 2011

Hey all,

Thanks for all of the help. Results are somewhere in the neighborhood of Peregrine Falcon 15, Prairie Falcon 2, Merlin 2.

What people said -
The only comments against Peregrine were regarding how light the bird looks, and how the facial features were not distinct enough. The picture was taken in early morning light - so the whole thing has a pink-orange tint that might explain that. For people that interpreted it as lighter, I think it moved them towards Prairie Falcon. For people that saw the facial features as less distinct, they leaned towards Merlin. An eyestripe also had people pausing to consider Merlin.

For ruling out Prairie Falcon, the facial markings were the biggest point for most, although it was also pointed out that this bird was in a tree, which would be a bit unusual for a Prairie Falcon (didn't know that!).

I think a close look shows the malar stripe is pretty wide at the base - it was pointed out that Merlins do show malar stripes, but not quite so wide at the base. The head seems to have been one of the more useful points - three people pointed out that it is a small-headed falcon, relative to the rest of its body. I looked at the Merlin pictures from a little further down in my blog and they really do have a different shape! Bud Anderson also commented on the toes, which seemed too "robust" compared to the "dainty" long toes of a Merlin. He also noted that a Merlin this dark would normally have broader, wider streaks than this bird.

Finally, people asked the obvious question - "um.. you were there... was it big enough to be a Peregrine?" I would say yes on that. I mean, that was my first ID on the bird, before I started looking for feedback - So I'm feeling good about Peregrine on this one, and feeling good about "raptor sp?" on the other! More than one person has asked if the white patch is an artifact of reflected light, and although it really looks like part of the wing to me... there's just too much doubt. Nice to get a chance to figure out what to look for next time I see a Golden Eagle from above, though (ha!).

Thanks again - didn't realize the entertainment it would provide! It has stopped raining now, though, so most of you should be out looking at birds not pictures of birds! :)


-Tim Brennan

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