Thursday, September 17, 2015

American Kestrels in the Campus Mini-wilderness

It didn't take long to get distracted from the Hawaiian bird series that I started yesterday. I was on my lunchtime walk around the mini-wilderness that is slated to become part of our Outdoor Education Laboratory when I saw yet another bird species occupying the top of the dead snag. It's been a constantly changing cast of characters in the one tree. Last week it was a Red-tailed Hawk, and in previous weeks the top of the tree has been occupied by Great Egrets, Starlings, Red-shouldered Hawks, Robins, Yellow-billed Magpies, Eurasian Collared Doves, and Cedar Waxwings.
Seeing them perched from a great distance, I thought I was seeing a pair of doves, but the moment they took off diving at the pond I know they were something else. They were a pair of American Kestrels (Falco sparverius), and they were on the hunt. There's not much pond left, but they were swooping down and picking off dragonflies.
I got a couple shots of one of them enjoying lunch.

These aren't the best shots I've ever gotten of Kestrels, but I think these are the closest I've been to them here on our campus. It's nice to know they can find a home here (or at least a quick meal!).
The soon-to-be-constructed Outdoor Education Laboratory will complement the indoor exhibits of the Great Valley Museum at Modesto Junior College. There will always be value in having permanent displays of animals and plants to educate our children about the natural history of the valley that they live in, but nothing will quite compare to seeing the museum exhibits and then going outdoors, and maybe, just maybe, seeing one of those creatures in real life. It's certainly been enriching my life.

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