Love where you live!
MT. HELIX -- We asked the birders of the world to identify this feathered visitor to Mt. Helix and the birders responded. Osprey, baby golden eagle, peregrine falcon, cooper's hawk. And with that variety of answers, we were required to turn to a birding expert to settle the issue.
Bill Toone (right), who heads the Eco-Life Foundation, was for many years the curator of birds at the San Diego Zoo.
Toone took a look at the photo and then spoke with a speed and confidence that one would expect of a professional birder:
"It is a red shouldered hawk,'' Toone pronounced.
Then being the birder that he is, Toone went on to teach a bit about this bird. For all their majestic size, he said, they have relatively small talons so they swoop down from their hunting perch and usually take on mice and small rats, frogs, lizards and insects. They like water settings, but don't fish well. They do well in an urban setting.
And then Toone went on with too much information! These hawks like to live in eucalyptus trees and are cleanliness freaks -- developing the ability from an early age to eject their feces long distances to keep the nest clean. Despite this skill, they are considered a common hawk and can be found across North America.
Their high, screeching call is familiar to birders across San Diego. See video below.
"We have them in our trees,'' Toone said, "and we love them.''
ORIGINAL POST BELOW:
MT. HELIX -- Sure, we all live just 15 minutes from downtown San Diego, but between the coyotes, rabbits, and the rich bird life, it can seem like we're living in a wildlife preserve. This visitor photographed above was recently seen looking for his next meal from high atop a utility pole. (Click on the photo for a larger image.) Can you identify what type bird this is?
Sign in and leave your answer in the comments below. Feel free to share your own photos of the local fauna. Just e-mail your photos to ourtown@LaMesaToday.com.
-- Chris Lavin, Editor