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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote® -- Peregrines and Merlins and Gyrfalcons

Air Date: Week of January 17, 2014

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Gyrfalcon (photo: Elena Gaillard)

The weather outside may be frightful, but as Mary McCann explains in today's BirdNote®, winter's a good time to see some of our most dramatic raptors.

Transcript

Winter can be a tough time for birds, but it’s also a time when tough birds are on display.
Here's Mary McCann with today's BirdNote®.
 
[Winter wind]


Female merlin (photo: Tom Grey)

MCCANN: Each season ushers in its own bounty of birdlife. Winter is the best season to highlight North America’s feathered thunderbolts: the falcons. [Peregrine Falcon calling] Northern-nesting species of falcons, like this Peregrine we’re hearing, move southward, closer to their many admiring observers.
[Peregrine Falcon calling]
Hurtling through the air on blade-like wings, falcons rank among the fastest of all birds and the most adept at capturing prey in flight.
One falcon much more prevalent across the U.S. in winter is the Merlin. [Merlin calling] Ten inches tall with a two-foot wingspan, the Merlin chases down small birds from sparrows to sandpipers. Small but powerful, the fearless Merlin will buzz even a huge eagle that enters its airspace.
The majestic Gyrfalcon drifts south in winter to the northern tier of states. [Gyrfalcon calling] Larger than a Red-tailed Hawk, in a direct sprint the Gyrfalcon can overtake even the fastest duck.
The mid-sized Peregrine Falcon nests in some locales across the country, but its numbers are greatest in winter, especially near the coasts. During its dive on a hapless pigeon or Dunlin, a Peregrine may reach an air speed approaching 200 miles per hour.


Peregrine Falcon (photo: Evan Bornholtz)

[Peregrine Falcon calling]

I'm Mary McCann.

CURWOOD: And for some photos of these falcons, dive into our website LOE.org.

[Written by Bob Sundstrom
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Merlin recorded by G.A. Keller. Peregrine Falcon recorded by G. Vyn. Gyrfalcon recorded by A.L. Priori.
Wind Nature SFX Essentials #2 recorded by Gordon Hempton of QuietPlanet.com.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org January 2014 Narrator: Mary McCann]

 

Links

Listen to this story on the BirdNote® website

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