Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Prairie Falcon Spotted at Ludington

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juvenile Prairie Falcon (photo by Chris Lipps)

submitted by Dave Dister

Around 5:20 p.m. this past Sunday Chris Lipps saw and photographed a juvenile Prairie Falcon about 1/4 mile north of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse at Ludington State Park.

The photos are diagnostic. As compared to the similar-sized Peregrine Falcon, the Prairie Falcon, Falco mexicanus, is paler overall, the mustache mark is paler and thinner, there is a white stripe above the eye, the wings are much shorter than the tail, and there are dark axillary (armpit) feathers on the underside of the wings. This represents only the 4th record of this western falcon in Michigan !! The species inhabits dry open country and feeds on small mammals and insects. Also, Carl Freeman may have seen the falcon early Tuesday morning, though Chris did not see it during his piping plover survey shift, nor did Chris and I this early evening (between 6 and 7 p.m.).

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