January Raptors

Jack and Shirley and I enjoyed one of those magical days on the Santa Cruz Flats–sandwiched between paying our respects to the Catalina State Park Rufous-backed Robin (thanks, Sara!) and the Casa Grande Northern Jacana. We had about 80 species for the day, and if only there’d been a few more hours of daylight, we could have pulled off a mid-winter 100 with no difficulty.

Raptors, of course, are the highlight of any trip to the flats (though the flock of 47 Mountain Plover we found was not bad, either). What I really enjoy about Arizona hawkwatching in the winter is the odd combinations. Today’s best was a famous corner out in the middlel of the Marana cotton fields, where we’d gone to see Burrowing Owls. They performed well for us, basking in the late-morning warmth, and just down the ditch from one pair sat this mighty predator.

An adult Ferruginous Hawk, one of three we would enjoy in the course of our nice long day. But above this bird sat an incongruous companion, a juvenile Crested Caracara.

The most charismatic of prairie buteos meets the “Mexican eagle”!