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October Yard Birds-Dragoons Foothills

Yard List = 144 species Scaled Quail, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Western Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Common Poorwill, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Anna's Hummingbird, Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird, Gila Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Gray Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Common Raven, Barn Swallow, Rock Wren, Bewick's Wren, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Northern Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, MacGillivray's Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Canyon Towhee, Botteri's Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, Blue Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Scott's Oriole, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

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Merlin

This week, on Thursday, I went to a spot that I rarely visit even though it’s just as accessible as some of my usual haunts. It’s called Brown Canyon Ranch and is located in Hereford (Cochise County) along the road to Ramsey Canyon. The two small ponds are what I really like about this place as any area with water can be a huge draw for wildlife in this part of the state.

Brown Canyon Ranch Pond

Pond at Brown Canyon Ranch, June 2012

Earlier in the week there had been reports of a female Merlin (Taiga race) frequenting the area by the old ranch house pond but when I got there no Merlin was to be seen so I walked around the grounds for a while. At the second, smaller, pond a Sora called a few times and then made several appearances, walking out in the open and then preening along the edge of the cattails. I didn’t take a photo of this pond because the sky was overcast and the light gloomy but here is one of the Soras (two have been reported).

Sora (Porzana carolina)

Sora (Porzana carolina)

After walking the Nature Trail and a bit of the lower portion of the Brown Canyon trail, I returned to the area of the ranch house and pond and saw that the Merlin was perched in one of the cottonwoods against a leaden sky. I was disappointed that the sun was not out (rare in Arizona!).

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

Much to my delight, the Merlin flew from the cottonwood and dived down to a log at the edge of the water where it snagged something and then flew up to the perfect perch for photography!

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

Merlin (Falco columbarius) with Dragonfly

The light was getting better and better and the bird was being very cooperative so I quickly ran to the car for a longer lens. I’m usually not this lucky!

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

Merlin with Dragonfly in its Talons

It proceeded to eat the dragonfly as well as several more unfortunate victims. Dragonflies seemed to be the sole source of food although the lack of passerines around the pond made it clear that they considered this small falcon a threat.

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

Landing

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

One Less Dragonfly on the Pond

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

My Favorite Photo

Published by Arlene Ripley on November 9th, 2012 Tagged Arizona, Birds, Cochise County, Nature

One Response to “Merlin”

  1. Tyler Bell Says:

    Love the fanned tail shot!