February 9, 2016

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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 //

Until recently, all falcons were thought to be closely related to hawks.  They all have hooked beaks and talons for tearing prey.  However, recent DNA analysis has shown falcons and somewhat surprisingly, parrots, both share a common ancestor, songbirds. A bit baffling at first thought. Falcons do not build their own nests but use cliffs or on the Chico, tree cavities.  In winter, our smallest falcon, American Kestrel, is common in prairie habitat where they use power line perches awaiting for a small rodents.  In spring and summer, nesting kestrels  include insects such as dragonflies and large beetle and butterflies in their diets.
Males and females are easy to separate, sexual dimorphism, as males like the one pictured above have blue-gray wings that contrast with an orange back and tail, whereas females have all rufous, no blue-gray, on their dorsal surfaces.

Photography by Bill Maynard