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Re: Lars Looms Large on Larson Ledge

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  • gadzooks58
    For the last couple of nights (around sunset), we have observed groups of 15-20 Vaux s swifts over our yard. The first time we spotted them we did not get good
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 25, 2013
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      For the last couple of nights (around sunset), we have observed groups of 15-20 Vaux's swifts over our yard. The first time we spotted them we did not get good looks to confirm Vaux's swifts. Last night, we had our bins handy and had good looks - definitely Vaux's.

      I checked my eBird yard list for last year, and I reported Vaux's swifts on August 28th.

      Karen Zook


      --- In BirdYak@yahoogroups.com, Rich712@... wrote:
      >
      >
      > Chirp,
      >
      > Dinking around in the downtown area this evening in faint hopes of seeing Vaux's Swifts choking chimneys, I was driving west on A Street approaching 2nd Street when I glanced over at the Larson Building to check for Swifts. Clearly silhouetted against a clear sky was a large raptor atop the Larson Building...just east of dead center. I whipped into the parking lot across from the 2nd Street Grille cleanly executing a slice and dice maneuver slick enough to make a master chef drool.
      >
      > Popped out of the truck and quickly had an adult Peregrine Falcon in view. I presume it was our old friend Lars, only this time he was not niched into a recessed ledge but was boldly balanced where building met sky. Stood out like a giant brass eagle flagpole topper. Several stories below, I noted a couple Vaux's Swifts knifing through the night air. A moment later, a small stream of twenty-plus streamed by. It was just a couple minutes after 8 pm. Shortly after the Swifts went by, Lars stretched both wings. After that, he started flapping both wings while standing on the ledge...perhaps actually gripping the structure to stifle lift off. Reminded me of a tethered raptor on a falconer's glove (or one of their perch posts). Satisfied that wings worked, he then flew in the general direction of the Yakima Herald Building. I had been there minutes before without observing any Swift sorties but I doubled back and spent another blank ten minutes there.
      >
      > Falconer Mike Roper suggested a couple years ago that Lars and Vaux's Swifts were related events. In a twist of an old saying, the right (falcon) hand appears to know what the left is doing even though the left hand (swifts) doesn't know what the right is doing.
      >
      > Over on the coast, Vaux's Happening director Larry Schwitters has noted hundreds of Swifts coming into the chimney with a camera the past couple of days. If you are near a large brick chimney around sunset, keep an eye peeled for the Swifts. Somewhere in the valley, a large brick hammock must be harboring tiny sleep over lefties.
      >
      > Later,
      > Rich
      > Faux Vaux Talk
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • Paul Huffman
      Really? It seems like catching a swift would be so hard and so little payoff since a swift is such a tiny tidbit. Or would a peregrine catch a swift just to
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 29, 2013
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        Really? It seems like catching a swift would be so hard and so little
        payoff since a swift is such a tiny tidbit. Or would a peregrine catch
        a swift just to prove a point? To show who is really master of the sky?

        If I were a peregrine (as I've often fantasied for my nest life. How do
        I apply?), I'd rather have a nice big rock dove. They're tricky enough
        to catch to provide real job satisfaction. And those shore birds are
        fast but still more attainable and bigger than a swift.

        On 8/24/2013 10:09 PM, Rich712@... wrote:
        >
        > Falconer Mike Roper suggested a couple years ago that Lars and Vaux's
        > Swifts were related events. In a twist of an old saying, the right
        > (falcon) hand appears to know what the left is doing even though the
        > left hand (swifts) doesn't know what the right is doing.
        >
        > Later,
        > Rich
        > Faux Vaux Talk
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Rich712@...
        Chirp, Regarding Peregrines taking swifts, Paul wrote: Really? It seems like catching a swift would be so hard and so little payoff since a swift is such a
        Message 3 of 4 , Aug 29, 2013
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          Chirp,


          Regarding Peregrines taking swifts, Paul wrote:





          "Really? It seems like catching a swift would be so hard and so little
          payoff since a swift is such a tiny tidbit. Or would a peregrine catch
          a swift just to prove a point? To show who is really master of the sky?"

          The tiny and hard to catch comment seems to ring true. I decided to check the Birds of North America Online to see if they mentioned prey Peregrines prefer to pilfer. The list was quite impressive, see below:

          Main Foods Taken
          For North America, minimum of 429 species of birds, 10 bat species, and 13 other mammal species recorded. Exceptionally, fish (4 species) and insects (mainly Orthoptera [grasshoppers, crickets] and Odonata [dragonflies, damselflies]) also. Rarely carrion. Estimate of “well over 250 species” of birds captured worldwide often given, but that number almost certainly exceeds 1,500 and probably 2,000 species. Primary literature on foods in North America too vast to be cited. Birds as large as Sandhill Crane (about 3,100 g) hit in the head and killed in midair in Alaska, also Bald Eagle (about 4,700 g) hit in head in Arizona, although probably not for food, and found dead within a month apparently from injuries exhibited during month. Smallest items, hummingbirds (Selasphorus, Archilochus spp.; 2.5–3.5 g). Frequently captures extremely aerial birds such as White-throated Swift, especially on Colorado Plateau, and Black Swift on San Juan Is., WA (C. M. Anderson pers. comm.). Of 20 prey captures seen in bottom of Grand Canyon, 45% were White-throated Swifts, remainder bats.

          End of paste.

          Sibley gives the weight of a White-throated Swift as 1.1 oz, roughly twice that of a Vaux's Swift (0.6 oz). However, a Rufous Hummingbird (a middle-weight of the Selasphorus hummer family) weighs in at 0.12 oz, less than one-fifth of the Vaux's.

          Sandhill Crane to Hummingbirds and insects...the latter often hunted by walking and hopping on the ground. Prior to reading the BNAO account, I held the notion that Peregrine's stooping on prey hit their targets with a closed fist (talons, foot) to knock them into a tumbling mass of silly. The account states that films show that they hit with their talons spread; the tumblers are birds they fumbled.

          Non-related to seeing birds but definitely correlated with yakking about them, I noticed today that Yahoo has evidently changed the BirdYak home page. Now features a photo of a guy on a mountain bike. Gone is the since the beginning of time calendar at the bottom of the page that let one pull up messages from any month in the past. Dang! Loved that feature.

          Later,
          Rich
          Befuddled Birder by 3700 Bonnie Boon









          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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