Prairie Falcon Chases Short-eared Owl

November 21, 2016


Bill Maynard, a botanist and former high school biology teacher, has worked for various government agencies from Alaska to South Florida and for The American Birding Association. He discovered the 87,000 acre Chico Basin Ranch to be the perfect natural laboratory to study and photograph birds, dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects. Chico Basin Ranch Natural History Resources : BIRDING CHECKLIST // BIRDING MAP // DRAGONFLY & DAMSELFLY CHECKLIST //

While I was driving out in the sand, a normally nocturnal Short-eared Owl was observed flying in the middle of the day. Perhaps a coyote flushed this ground roosting species.  As the owl flew west, I saw a wintering Chico Prairie Falcon flying towards the unsuspecting owl.  The resulting encounter brought both species inches away from each other and both birds raised their talons in defense. The owl was quite vocal, hissing at the falcon. When the falcon and the owl separated, the owl flew higher and higher and disappeared from view.  The Chico sand hills provides home for a variety of rodents, enough so that Golden Eagles, Prairie Falcons, Ferruginous Hawks as well as Great Horned Owls, and both Long-eared and Short-eared Owls have  plenty of food during the winter months. The conflicts come when territories overlap. In contrast, during winter months most of the Chico breeding birds migrate south to areas where more abundant food can be found. This could be as close as New Mexico or as far away as South America.