Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Raptor Free Flight

We just spent the most marvelous day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and did not get to do everything we wanted. But they have the best raptor program I have ever seen, and I see all I can go to. The program is on the grounds, among the Saguaro Cactus, rather than in a building - important point #1 - so these birds could fly away any time they want to. They fly from perch to perch, buzzing the heads of the viewers. I told Dick they must not like his red hat, he got strafed so often.
I could make about 5 separate posts here with just the pictures from each raptor we saw, let alone the other desert birds and landscape. Let's cut to the chase, and just go for the photos, which became easier after I saw the handler putting little bits of meat on the next branch the bird would go to.
They have a family of Harris Hawks who all came at one time in the afternoon show. It's amazing that no other raptor lives and hunts in a pack, essentially. The female is always in charge of the family.
This Chihuahuan Raven chuckled as he lightly touched someone's head while flying over. "Every time," quoth the Raven. "Ole"
Don't think this American Kestral is just a sweet tiny bird. It is a mighty hunter.
I wouldn't want a Ferruginous Hawk smiling at me from a branch. Looks like she's giving us the eye as her next breakfast! Her mouth is so wide she can swallow her prey whole if necessary. I know, this isn't a raptor, but a Cactus Wren. They are all over the place, and noisy in the wren tradition. I was surprised to see they are about the size of a Robin, not the small eastern wrens I am familiar with.
And there was morning and evening of the second day, and it was good.....not even mentioning the little Costa's Hummingbird and Broad Billed Hummingbirds we saw. I can't spell Phainopepla without looking it up again, but we saw a bunch of them. Wishing has made it so once more - our first Western Tanager was in the aviary! Next on the wish list is a Roadrunner - meep! meep!


Kathiesbirds said...

Oh, you are here! I am so glad you went here. What great photos you got! I am heading to Sweetwater today. You are one brave person to seek it out amongst the traffic conditions!

Zoe Ann Hinds said...

I just love the amazing photos! What an experience you must have enjoyed. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Here is some information on the Broad-billed Hummingbird I thought you might enjoy.

The Broad-billed Hummingbird is one of the more mild-mannered species of hummingbird. Unlike other hummingbird species, the broad-billed hummingbird may often sit on a high perch for long periods. The name of this hummingbird is truly uninspired and quite common and it comes from the species name, which translates as "broad bill."

There are many species of hummingbirds that are quite similar to the Broad-billed Hummingbird. The species that are listed here are not the only species that are similar to the Broad-billed Hummingbird, but they are a few examples. The White-eared Hummingbird is similar in size but chunckier and it has a larger head in proportion to its body. The Magnificent Hummingbird has an all black bill. The Blue-throated Hummingbird has paler upperparts, lage rounded blue-black tail with large pure white spots at the corners, and an all-black bill.

This hummingbird will seeemly change colors. This is due to iridescent parts of the feathers, where a change in the angle of viewing in relationship to the sun will make the hummingbird appear to have changed colors.

KatDoc said...

Sounds like a great trip! I love the idea of Harris Hawks hunting in a pack, like aerial wolves. And the Cactus Wren - so cute!!

So wish I was there - I gotta get to AZ some day...