Before I say anything else, Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
Although the only bird I should probably be talking about at this special time is the Wild Turkey, since I took some fine pictures of an Aplomado Falcon yesterday, that will be the theme of this short post.
After photographing at Sabal Palm Sanctuary earlier Tuesday afternoon, I went looking for raptors at dusk and was lucky enough to find a male Aplomado Falcon.
This beautiful raptor happens to be my favorite bird so even if I took 10,000 photos of it, I would take 10,001 more because I just can’t get enough of this stunning falcon.
In addition to a striking appearance that sets it apart from other falcon species in Texas (and North America), this bird is special for other reasons. The Aplomado is one of our rarest birds of prey and was actually extirpated in the USA by the 1950s. It was never common in the country and only lived in the subtropical grasslands of southern New Mexico and Arizona, and the coastal prairies of South Texas. When those grasslands were altered by over-grazing and agriculture, the few falcons that lived in them couldn’t adapt and thus disappeared from that part of their range. They were likely also affected by pesticides.
Fortunately, the Aplomado Falcon also lives in many parts of Mexico and South America so it wasn’t in any danger of becoming globally extinct. Some of the wild birds from Mexico were eventually captured and used for breeding by the Peregrine Fund. Over 1,000 of those birds were eventually released into south Texas during the 1980s and they have once again become established in some of my favorite birding areas. They have also been released on private lands in western Texas and in parts of southern New Mexico (including the White Sands Missile range).
While the Aplomado is still a rare bird in south Texas, these majestic birds can be regularly seen around Laguna Atascosa and other parts of the coastal prairie ecosystem.
Enjoy Turkey Day with a big juicy bird, watching the game, and enjoying time with family!