[birding] Falcon photo study

Nancy Stotz nstotznew at gmail.com
Thu Sep 20 16:04:57 PDT 2018

On my way to Ankeny NWR this morning, I stopped for a raptor perched in a
dead tree by the road, and was excited to see what I thought was a Prairie
Falcon. I snapped some photos of that mostly back view, showing the nice
pale brown back and weak moustache coming down below the eye, and then
decided to see if it would stay put long enough for me to get some photos
showing its front. I quickly got a couple of its front before it flew, and
went back to the car to continue on to Pintail Marsh.

It wasn't til I downloaded the photos after I got home that I realized the
bird was a Peregrine. Per Sibley, a juvenile Tundra form to be precise.
Front view, which I didn't even look at through my binocs in the field,
shows streaking that's way too dark for a Prairie, and closer study shows a
larger white auricular patch behind the moustache than a Prairie would
show, plus undertail coverts are clearly streaked, not clear.

I had never realized how easily a juvenile Peregrine could be mistaken for
a Prairie, and it will certainly make me look much more closely at falcons
I want to call Prairies in the future. Since I already ruined any
credibility I might have had with the mid-identified Chipping Sparrow, I
thought I would share this humbling experience that shows once again, the
value of lots of photos and multiple angles on a bird. Photos are posted to
eBird at link below.


Nancy Stotz

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