December 13, 2010

Free flight

It was a good thing I had written ASDM on the calendar after we came home after our last visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Otherwise we would have forgotten our new commitment to visit there once a month during the cooler times of the year. I say cooler, because as it turned out, it was 84 degrees in Tucson today. Thankfully it is only 70 at home.

We arrived just in time for the Raptor Free Flight program and there were no school busses full of kids! We had seen this demonstration before, and I love seeing those birds so close up. It is held in the middle of the grounds and is narrated by one of the docents. The birds are surreptitiously released as you learn about their habits and habitats, and then fed little morsels on various parts of vegetation. These are wild birds and not rehabs, so things do not always go completely to script. This morning the prairie falcon went on an extended outing (about 15 minutes) because it was a bit windy and apparently this bird really enjoys that.

The program started out with some Chihuahuan ravens, which are much smaller than we had thought. We have ravens around our place (we call him and his mate Edgar and Edgarina and they nest about 0.5 miles away in the National Forest), but they are common ravens. At least we now know what to look for in identifying these birds.

Next was a female great-horned owl that squeaked along the way (we certainly have heard that call before), and she flew within 3 inches of my head. What a thrill! Then it was the aforementioned prairie falcon who had a great time off in the distance, but finally did return on his own accord. Last was a ferruginous hawk, many of his kind come and overwinter in our valley. I have found that hawks are not always easy to identify, but now I have a much better bead on this big hawk.

As we came into the driveway we saw a red-tailed hawk and a ferruginous way up in the sky. What a great place to live! Dan gave me these pictures for the blog, but the best ones are on his website.


DJ said...

When I come for my next visit, I definitely want to go back to the museum. These shots are beautiful. If I had taken the picture, I would have ended up with an empty tree limb, just after the bird had taken off in full flight!

webb said...