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Old Mar 13, 2005, 8:42 PM   #1
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 8:50 PM   #2
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These are great photos of some sort of raptor (I'm not the expert on that sort of thing so I can't help you on an identification). Detail in the head and feather area is excellent and color saturation is superb (as always with that lens). I'm on a fast dialup line that reduces photo resolutions inline in order to speed up the surfing and I can usually see a distinct degradation but these look good even with fast dialup engaged (I can enable and disable it when I want).

Hopefully I can get a chance at one of these, or something similar, in due time. Cheers.
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 9:09 PM   #3
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I'm no expert, but it looks like a Broad-Winged Hawk to me. I think that would be pretty rare if you took that shot in Idaho, but I'm pretty sure they have been in those parts before.

Like I said, I'm really just guessing.


Nice clear shots, btw.
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 11:53 PM   #4
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It looks more like a Taiga Merlin (small, dark Falcon) to me. Looking in my Photo guide to No. Am. Raptors it seems to match up the best. I will check with a Falconer friend of mine and get back to you.

Beautiful shots by the way.

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Old Mar 17, 2005, 5:45 PM   #5
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I finally heard back from my Falconer friend and here is what he had to say.

"Hey Steve,
I actually think that it is a Richardson's Merlin. Did you take the shots? Although they are around here on occasion, they are not really very common. The Columbarius Merlin is a lot more common. The Taiga Merlin to my knowledge is a relatively new sub-species. There are three that are commonly used; Falco columbarius suclei, F.c. columbarius, F.c. richardsonii, and more recently (3-4 years) the F.c. taiga. There is actually some discussion as to whether or not there actually is a Taiga Merlin, although from what I have sen there seems to be. The largest is the Richardsons, smallest is the suclei or black merlin. The black merlins actually migrate the farthest, contrary to what I just read on some bird ID sites. They will actually go all the way down to the tip of Argentina before heading back. They follow the flocks of passerines the whole way. Richardsons merlins are birds of the plains Montana, Wyoming, Kansas etc... The suclei live predominantly on the west coast, and the columbarius live throughout the US. They all nest in the taller pine trees in a relatively dense forest.
I am relatively certain that the bird in the picture is an immature bird though. The adults have a very definite bluish back. See the whitish spots on the back? Those are commonly found in immature birds and are usually colored more obviously in the adults. For some strange reason, the lighter spots are where the feather lice that most wild birds have tend to feast. Many times you can see the areas of the feathers that have been gone through by the lice. Andy"
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