Local bay area wildlife December 2013,
The colder weather is finally upon us, however many days are still warm providing a mix of late summer animals usually in hibernation along with migratory species in for the winter.
The Ferruginous hawks are here in eastern Contra Costa County again and I have already gathered a few pictures. Out here I notice them as they stand on the prairie more than other raptors. This tendency to stand on flat ground is a plan to hunt ground squirrels I have observed. Idea is to sort of sneak around getting close and sometimes will fly in short bursts to catch squirrels. When searching for the Ferruginous look first on the ground for this large powerful raptor.And thank goodness for the red tailed hawk. The most numerous large soaring hawks are all over the place in California. They come in several color phases and have a very interesting personality. Cocky, bold and over confident they can be spotted in about every habitat in the bay area. In winter, they slow down a bit in the colder weather allowing us to take a closer look at this remarkable species. They are the coyote of the sky perfectly suited for the environment around them. Red tails are excellent hunters and have lots of leisure time sometimes dive bombing each other with that classic scream. In older western movies the scream was used usually while eagles were shown on the screen but “hey” they can’t scream like those red tails. In some Native American books I have read the red tail hawks were referred to as messengers. My thought is that they are a messenger of wildlife to those of inner cities as the red tail visits almost everywhere being seen by all, and reminding them the wilderness is not far away.
*Please take a look at the Contra Costa Watershed calendar for 2014 to see more photos of local wildlife. Big thanks to John for using some of my local wildlife pictures.