|Anne Price with a prairie falcon at the Best Western Denver Southwest!|
The big four hawks are: red-tailed hawk (year round), Swainson’s hawk (April through early October), rough-legged hawk (October through March), and Ferruginous hawk (year round, but rare on front range in summer months). Turkey vultures in spring, bald eagles in winter, golden eagles, Cooper’s hawks and American kestrels year-round, turkey vultures and osprey from March through October. There are more species around but these are the most likely to be seen by the average birder.
|A red-tailed hawk at another one of the raptor shows at the Best Western!|
Turkey vultures and Swainson’s hawks.
|Anne Price holding a turkey vulture!|
You may see red-tailed hawks and bald eagles start to sit next to each other in trees or along telephone poles. The big excitement comes from great-horned owls, which will begin courtship calling (hooting back and forth) in the middle of the night, starting around Christmas Day.
|Anne holding a great-horned owl!|
Our birds eat more, so we feed them more to put on just a bit more fat for the cold weather. Our two Swainson’s hawks get feisty and start stealing food because their metabolism is telling them that they need to bulk up for a long migration ahead. I always let them gain 1-3 oz during this transition so they are ready for the cold, which came early this year and was REALLY cold. Our female golden eagle will also start gaining weight and developing a brood patch as she gets ready to lay her eggs in early March. She has gained 9 oz just in the last 2 weeks!
|A golden eagle takes flight in Dinosaur National Monument!|
It’s called the “malar stripe” or “malar mark.” It’s meant to reduce glare by having the sun strike or be concentrated in the area beneath the eye, leaving the area above in proper contrast. These are black or dark lines under the eyes of cheetahs, most falcons (gyrfalcons and merlins being notable exceptions). Even flickers have malar stripes, though in these birds they serve as signals for courtship, not for better visibility of prey species!
Which is why the Rockies and the Broncos do the same thing…….
|A REF prairie falcon at the Best Western!|