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Kings Co. Mystery Falcon

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  • erpfromca@aol.com
    This is a follow up to my earlier posts about the odd Falcon I photographed in Kings County on Friday. For those who may not want to wade through the info
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 26, 2007
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      This is a follow up to my earlier posts about the odd Falcon I photographed
      in Kings County on Friday.

      For those who may not want to wade through the info below, the short story
      is that I think this bird is most likely an escaped falconer's bird, most
      probably a Gyrfalcon/Peregrine hybrid (which are apparently quite popular in the
      falconer's world). Details about what others think and why I came this
      'conclusion' below.


      I got quite a few responses from folks, and they were all over the map. A
      few felt this bird looked perfectly fine for a Gyrfalcon. A couple thought is
      might be a juvenile Peregrine. A few others, including one falconer, thought it
      might be a Saker (a large falcon native to eastern Europe and parts of
      central Asia and also popular with falconers). One person thought it was a Prairie
      Falcon.

      I have put out inquiries to a number of falconers and falcon breeders who
      sell Gyr/Peregrine hybrids, Sakers and other hybrid variants, but am still
      waiting for more responses.

      First I'll go through what I think it ISN'T, and why.

      Gyrfalcon: Although the plumage looks very good for a juv. Gray morph Gyr, I
      just can't get there on size and structure. When I took photos of this bird
      and resized them so that the structural elements of the telephone pole
      matched the photo I took of an adult Peregrine a few poles to the west, the length
      of the mystery falcon is just a tiny bit longer than the Peregrine. This
      should only occur at the absolute extremes of both birds. According the B.
      Wheeler, juv Gyrs (which this would be) are on the long end of the spectrum because
      they have longer tails. Also, the body just doesn't look bulky enough
      (though I got photos from some folks of Gyrs that looked nearly this slim). I just
      don't think this bird is big enough to be a Gyrfalcon.

      juv. Peregrine: First of all, I (and most everyone agrees) have NEVER seen a
      juv. Peregrine that looks like this bird. The dark face, the smudginess in
      the cheek, the heavy markings on the side of the neck are all wrong. The
      wingtips also come well short of the end of the tail, wrong for Peregrine AND for
      Prairie as well. I got a quick look at this bird as it flew and the flight
      style was just nothing like a Peregrine. Lumbering, in comparison. It looked
      like a bigger bird in flight with wider and blunter wings than a Peregrine.
      Steve Summers (who feels pretty sure this is the same bird he saw a couple days
      earlier) got a flight photo on his phone and the wings look wide and very
      blunt. Has an almost 'buteo' like shape, but with a long tail.

      Prairie: As above, structure is all wrong for Prairie Falcon and the plumage
      is too gray, and the face way too dark for any Prairie


      Saker: This needs careful consideration. Though a bit small for a Saker, the
      overall structure looks good. I have NO personal experience with this
      species but have looked at a few field guides and downloaded every photo I could
      and, almost without exception, these Sakers have a very different face and head
      pattern. Much more like a Prairie Falcon with pale cheeks. Not at all like
      this bird. Overall plumage seems to be generally much more brown than this
      bird. I have uploaded to the CALBIRDS web site (look under Files) a Word doc.
      that has a bunch of randomly selected Saker photos with a photo of the Kings
      Falcon at the end. Only one of these birds has a face even vaguely like this
      bird (lower right on page 2).


      I haven't been able to find a photo of a Gyr/Peregrine as a juvenile, but
      can easily imagine it could look like this bird. One popular variant on this mix
      is a 3/4 Gyr 1/4 Peregrine, which might fit best for this bird.

      Of course, there are also many Saker/Gyr and Saker/Peregrine hybrids to
      consider (heck, some even produce Gyr/Merlin hybrids, which Bruce Webb suggests
      is like crossing a Chihuahua with a Great Dane...)


      One falconer is interested in trying to find this bird and capture it, which
      could give us some resolution.


      In any case, this has been fun and I have learned more about falconry than I
      ever expected to...



      Ed Pandolfino



      **************************************Check out AOL's list of 2007's hottest
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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Brian Williams
      A Placer County falconer contacted me a few years ago because he lost his Gyrfalcon/Peregrine hybrid (it may have been a pure Gryfalcon or other Gyrfalcon mix,
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 27, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        A Placer County falconer contacted me a few years ago because he lost
        his Gyrfalcon/Peregrine hybrid (it may have been a pure Gryfalcon or
        other Gyrfalcon mix, I can't remember for sure, but I think it was a
        Gyr/Per) near Lincoln. He had a feeling that his bird might have
        wandered toward the Delta. Just an added tidbit for reference.



        Brian



        -----Original Message-----
        From: central_valley_birds@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:central_valley_birds@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
        ERPFROMCA@...
        Sent: Monday, November 26, 2007 6:46 PM
        To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com; central_valley_birds@yahoogroups.com;
        birdingcalifornia@yahoogroups.com
        Cc: ERPfromCA@...
        Subject: [CVBirds] Kings Co. Mystery Falcon



        This is a follow up to my earlier posts about the odd Falcon I
        photographed
        in Kings County on Friday.

        For those who may not want to wade through the info below, the short
        story
        is that I think this bird is most likely an escaped falconer's bird,
        most
        probably a Gyrfalcon/Peregrine hybrid (which are apparently quite
        popular in the
        falconer's world). Details about what others think and why I came this
        'conclusion' below.


        I got quite a few responses from folks, and they were all over the map.
        A
        few felt this bird looked perfectly fine for a Gyrfalcon. A couple
        thought is
        might be a juvenile Peregrine. A few others, including one falconer,
        thought it
        might be a Saker (a large falcon native to eastern Europe and parts of
        central Asia and also popular with falconers). One person thought it was
        a Prairie
        Falcon.

        I have put out inquiries to a number of falconers and falcon breeders
        who
        sell Gyr/Peregrine hybrids, Sakers and other hybrid variants, but am
        still
        waiting for more responses.

        First I'll go through what I think it ISN'T, and why.

        Gyrfalcon: Although the plumage looks very good for a juv. Gray morph
        Gyr, I
        just can't get there on size and structure. When I took photos of this
        bird
        and resized them so that the structural elements of the telephone pole
        matched the photo I took of an adult Peregrine a few poles to the west,
        the length
        of the mystery falcon is just a tiny bit longer than the Peregrine. This

        should only occur at the absolute extremes of both birds. According the
        B.
        Wheeler, juv Gyrs (which this would be) are on the long end of the
        spectrum because
        they have longer tails. Also, the body just doesn't look bulky enough
        (though I got photos from some folks of Gyrs that looked nearly this
        slim). I just
        don't think this bird is big enough to be a Gyrfalcon.

        juv. Peregrine: First of all, I (and most everyone agrees) have NEVER
        seen a
        juv. Peregrine that looks like this bird. The dark face, the smudginess
        in
        the cheek, the heavy markings on the side of the neck are all wrong. The

        wingtips also come well short of the end of the tail, wrong for
        Peregrine AND for
        Prairie as well. I got a quick look at this bird as it flew and the
        flight
        style was just nothing like a Peregrine. Lumbering, in comparison. It
        looked
        like a bigger bird in flight with wider and blunter wings than a
        Peregrine.
        Steve Summers (who feels pretty sure this is the same bird he saw a
        couple days
        earlier) got a flight photo on his phone and the wings look wide and
        very
        blunt. Has an almost 'buteo' like shape, but with a long tail.

        Prairie: As above, structure is all wrong for Prairie Falcon and the
        plumage
        is too gray, and the face way too dark for any Prairie

        Saker: This needs careful consideration. Though a bit small for a Saker,
        the
        overall structure looks good. I have NO personal experience with this
        species but have looked at a few field guides and downloaded every photo
        I could
        and, almost without exception, these Sakers have a very different face
        and head
        pattern. Much more like a Prairie Falcon with pale cheeks. Not at all
        like
        this bird. Overall plumage seems to be generally much more brown than
        this
        bird. I have uploaded to the CALBIRDS web site (look under Files) a Word
        doc.
        that has a bunch of randomly selected Saker photos with a photo of the
        Kings
        Falcon at the end. Only one of these birds has a face even vaguely like
        this
        bird (lower right on page 2).


        I haven't been able to find a photo of a Gyr/Peregrine as a juvenile,
        but
        can easily imagine it could look like this bird. One popular variant on
        this mix
        is a 3/4 Gyr 1/4 Peregrine, which might fit best for this bird.

        Of course, there are also many Saker/Gyr and Saker/Peregrine hybrids to
        consider (heck, some even produce Gyr/Merlin hybrids, which Bruce Webb
        suggests
        is like crossing a Chihuahua with a Great Dane...)


        One falconer is interested in trying to find this bird and capture it,
        which
        could give us some resolution.


        In any case, this has been fun and I have learned more about falconry
        than I
        ever expected to...



        Ed Pandolfino

        **************************************Check out AOL's list of 2007's
        hottest
        products.
        (http://money.
        <http://money.aol.com/special/hot-products-2007?NCID=aoltop0003000000000
        1> aol.com/special/hot-products-2007?NCID=aoltop00030000000001)

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





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