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Archive for the 'Raptors' Category

Red-tailed hawk harassing golden eagle

Red-tailed hawk dive-bombing golden eagle sitting on fence post. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1golden redtail2 dave harper oakley

Here’s a scene (two pictures) of an encounter between a golden eagle and a red-tailed hawk who happened upon the eagle. The golden is perched on a 6 or 8 inch post, interesting to see the talon size. Much like the smaller birds harassing hawks, the red-tail can bother the eagle as long as it remains careful to not get too close.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

The eagle is probably perched in the red-tail’s territory and the smaller hawk is just letting the golden know who’s “boss” around there. These little turf wars go on all the time between large raptors and small raptors. With the birds of prey, it’s usually over territory.

But when small songbirds, crows and jays start dive-bombing and screaming at much larger raptors, it usually has to do with survival.The small prey species band together to harass and try to chase the larger predators away so the predator won’t sneak up and kill one of them when they’re not looking. /Gary

Red-tailed hawk dive-bombing golden eagle sitting on fence post. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1golden redtail dave harper oakley

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Under: Golden eagles, Raptors, Red-tailed hawk | 4 Comments »

A bald eagle says ‘Happy New Year!’

Bald eagle in winter. Photo by Pam Kappelhof, Martinez, CA
bald eagle at tahoe pam kappelhof mtz

I would like to share the enclosed picture of a Bald Eagle.  Taken on December 31 at Sugar Pine Point State Park on the west shore of Lake Tahoe.
Pam Kappelhof, Martinez, California

What a great New Year’s Eve shot! A bald eagle in winter. A great way to welcome in the New Year!
And a very Happy New Year to you, too! /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
Under: Bald Eagles, Raptors | 1 Comment »

Vultures: The environment would be a stinky mess without these scavengers

Sharp-shinned hawk on car top. Photo by Madeleine Gallagher, Walnut Creek, CA
sharpie gallagher

Dear Gary:
I’m just learning how to download photos onto our computer and have some recent photos taken in our neighborhood in Walnut Creek.

The little hawk sat on my car for at least an hour. We think it’s a sharp-shinned hawk, based on the pictures in Sibley’s bird book. It is the second or third time a hawk (maybe this one) has perched there.
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Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
Under: Hawks, Raptors, Turkey vultures | 1 Comment »

Bald eagle photos … would you believe … from Danville!

Bald eagle over Danville, Calif. Photo by Henry Houghton, Danville

Today I saw a pair of bald eagles and managed to snap some photographs of them with a 300 mm lens. I have lived in the Bay Area for 24 years and have never seen one and all of my friends were quite surprised to find out our national bird can be seen in California.

I thought the experience was incredible and would like to share it with other people.
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Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Under: Bald Eagles, Birds, Raptors | 2 Comments »

Red-tailed hawk attends memorial service

On Friday, May 2, Frank Vizena was buried at the new Veterans National Cemetery near Dixon, CA, exit 60 off Interstate 80.

The beautiful and inspiring ceremony was held under the committal shelter, but several people stood out from under it. As taps was being played, some saw a large bird (a red-tailed hawk, perhaps) fly over us. Then at the very end of the ceremony, the bird (same one?) flew up and over the shelter, cried out, and circled a few times before flying off.
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Posted on Monday, May 12th, 2008
Under: Mother Nature, Nature, Raptors, Red-tailed hawk | No Comments »

Altamont windmills kill raptors

Dear Gary,
I am a volunteer at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum hospital (in Walnut Creek, Calif.). In the last two weeks we have had to euthanize three golden eagles and many other birds of prey that have fallen victim to the (Altamont) windmills. Too often the windmills chop them up so bad it is impossible to save them.

I know the windmills are shut down in November but the migration period obviously starts sooner. I wonder if it would harm our energy production to shut the windmills down just one month earlier so it would avoid the migration completely, and then turn them back on again another time of year when there is no migration to compensate for the month lost?

My friends have suggested a petition to re-schedule the windmills but I don’t know how effective it would be. I want to know what I can do to help the situation of the migrating raptors. (Liz Wakeman, cyberspace)

Dear Liz:
You’re helping now by sending me your letter to publicize this problem. Hopefully this will stimulate some response from my clever readers with suggestions on how to stop the killing.

Anyone have any ideas?

Posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2006
Under: Raptors, Wind Turbines | 2 Comments »

Wind turbine response

And another thing … As one of my readers, Ken Dexter of Benicia, said in his e-mail: "The raptors and the wind turbines are on the ridge line for similar reasons. The raptors favor the updrafts that occur there and the turbines want the wind. They are bound to butt heads (and wings, legs … ). You might have guessed by now that I am not in favor of these Cuisinarts of the Sky. I think someone is trying to pull the sheep over our eyes."

Posted on Thursday, June 1st, 2006
Under: Golden eagles, Raptors, Wind Turbines | No Comments »

Nothing in nature is ever simple

The letter and my answer below will appear in my Times’ column for June 1. This is for those who read my blog but not my column. I think they may be interested in this little exchange. /Gary

Dear Gary:
I read staff writer Denis Cuff’s article in the Tuesday Times (May 30) about using sheep to keep the grasses at the Altamont wind turbines trimmed. The idea being that if there is no ground cover for the ground squirrels then they will have to find another area to frolic. Which in turn will remove the food supply that attracts the raptors.

If this test works I believe we’ll have a win/win situation. We’ll retain the turbines, feed the sheep and save raptors from getting caught (and killed) in the turbine blades.
Greg Poynter, Richmond, CA

Dear Greg:
Unfortunately, nothing in nature is ever quite that simple.

Many thousands of birds have died at Altamont since those wind turbines were installed 20 or so years ago. Instead of investing the funds to simply redesign the turbines so they won’t kill the hawks, eagles, owls, falcons and vultures, or anything else, they have continually tried to first ignore the situation, and then to focus on low-cost, ineffective solutions when pressed to deal with it.

Now they want to disrupt the local ecosystem by using sheep to overgraze the area to try and make the ground squirrels leave, so the raptors will supposedly go seek their prey elsewhere and not be killed. I’m not so sure this will be that effective. There will still be plenty of other rodents (gophers, field mice, voles, rabbits, and other creatures) for the birds of prey to eat.

Other creatures will also be affected if the ground squirrels are driven away. Burrowing owls use ground squirrel holes to build their nests, and tiger salamanders also like to live in those holes. Gopher snakes and rattlesnakes feed on ground squirrels. And who knows what the effects from overgrazing will be on other species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, spiders and insects?

And what about the huge numbers of bats that are being killed by wind turbine blades in other parts of the country? I’m sure bats are also dying at Altamont, and bats don’t care about ground squirrels. In fact, all that sheep poop may even attract more insects and therefore more bats to eat them and be killed by the turbines.

As I said, nothing in nature is ever simple.

Posted on Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
Under: Golden eagles, Raptors, Wildlife, Wind Turbines | 2 Comments »