Gyrfalcons, Bald Eagle & Black Vulture

Aug 12 07:28 2010 David Bunch Print This Article

Gyrfalcons are birds of the arctic regions, one phase being nearly white, with markings' similar to those of the snowy owl, from which it may be distinguished by its characteristic hawk shape. Individual variation is so great that there is no clear way of separating the species in the field. They nest on ledges of rocky cliffs near the seacoast. The four creamy eggs, heavily marked with reddish-brown, are laid early in June.

Gyrfalcons are birds of the arctic regions,Guest Posting one phase being nearly white, with markings' similar to those of the snowy owl, from which it may be distinguished by its characteristic hawk shape. Individual variation is so great that there is no clear way of separating the species in the field. They nest on ledges of rocky cliffs near the seacoast. The four creamy eggs, heavily marked with reddish-brown, are laid early in June. They are brooded almost entirely by the female. They breed probably to tree limit in arctic North America, and the white phase in Greenland and arctic Asia. They move southward in winter to southern Canada and the northern tier of states in the United States. They are voracious creatures, taking large numbers of sea birds, which they swallow after removing head and wings. They also feed on lemmings, ptarmigan and northern hares. Their rarity makes their depredations of no moment to man. These are among the birds trained to hunt for their masters in the old days when falconry was a popular sport.

The Bald Eagle, the emblem of the United States, is a master of the air, flying on sure, strong wings far beyond the vision of man. Soaring majestically overhead, its sharp eyes may spy fish or other food far below. At once it starts on a long diagonal dive; and seldom misses its prey, which it carries to some treetop to devour. Bald eagles are found all over North America and breed throughout their range. They usually nest in wooded regions near large bodies of water, and commonly place their broad, flat nests in the tops of very tall trees, though sometimes on mountain cliffs. These are large affairs made of sticks and repaired for use year after year. The white eggs may number one to four. Most frequently there are two young. These children do not get their white feathers until their fourth year. Bald eagles are much less common than formerly, due to unwarranted killing throughout their range, and especially on our western coast. They follow the fish as they gather and ascend the rivers to spawn—alewives in the east and salmon in the west. Fish not considered edible by man, are the usual prey of eagles.

The Black Vulture, when seen in flight, may be distinguished from the turkey vulture by its smaller size, heavier flight and the shorter, squaretail. It is a useful scavenger, and is protected throughout its range in the warmer southern portions of the United States, from Texas to Virginia and Florida. Vultures are found from Mexico to southern South America. Swampy, lowland areas along rivers or near the sea are chosen as nesting sites. No real nest is made. The two chocolate-marked greenish eggs are laid on the ground in the shelter of a log or some low growth. Both birds share in incubation, which extends over approximately a month. They form a most efficient street cleaning squad, as all refuse is relished by them.

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