Raptors at Sacramento NWR

Considering how many birds there were at the Sacramento national wildlife refuge, it’s not surprising that there also many raptors. After all, life and death are the ultimate balance.

I think the two Peregrine Falcons we saw were my favorites, though, because I’ve only managed to get one good picture in the in the six years I’ve been birding. This one landed over our head as we were walking the ponds at the front of the refuge.

Peregrine Falcon

It wasn’t until I got to my computer that I recognized this was a Peregrine falcon because it was little more than a silhouette until I tweaked it in Aperture and Photoshop.

Nor did I recognize this one until another birder told me what it was.

Peregrine Falcon

The fact that it was an entirely different color than the two other peregrine I have seen didn’t make identification easier.

I would’ve sworn that this was a Rough-Legged Hawk if it hadn’t been for the red feather on the tail.

Red-Tailed Hawk

When I looked it up in my new Stokes field guide I saw that this is one of the many morphs of Red-Tailed Hawks . Reading a little further I discovered that Red-Tailed Hawks also hybridise with Rough-Legged Hawks.

This is more like the Red-Tailed Hawks I’m used to seeing.

Red-Tailed Hawk

We saw many of these, but I found the eye in this shot particularly haunting.

This might look like a red-tailed Hawk, but its size is a dead give-away that it is an immature Bald Eagle.

Immature Bald Eagle

Just in case there any leftovers after a kill, there was also a large flock of Turkey Vultures roosting in the trees at the entrance of the refuge.

Vultures in Tree

Leslie was adamant that we should get a shot because in all the years she had seen vultures she had never seen them roosting in a tree. I don’t think she realized how hard it is to photograph a black bird with the sun behind them and get anything more than a silhouette.