A prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus) kindly sat on a utility pole along Hunt Road in Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Lassen County CA) while I took several photographs. Since it is several years since I did a prairie falcon post, it is time to share a photograph of this handsome raptor.
Prairie falcons are found in Western North America. Their habitat is open country with nearby bluffs and cliffs where they can nest. Adapted to an arid climate, prairie falcons are found in grasslands, sage scrub, and dry-farmed fields up to 11,000 feet. They avoid forested areas and the immediate coast.
An aerial forager, a prairie falcon searches for prey from perches. They also take birds on the wing using rapid flight maneuvers close to the ground. Small mammals, especially ground squirrels, comprise their main diet in the summer while the winter diet of a prairie falcon includes more small birds particularly horned larks, western meadowlarks and starlings. Nesting pairs cache excess prey in clumps of vegetation and rocky areas within their territory for times when prey is scarce. The male and female cache in separate sites.
Prairie falcons are popular among falconry enthusiasts. Nineteen states permit the capture of prairie falcons to be used in the sport, usually as nestlings or fledglings.