Few, if any, birds spark the human imagination more than birds of prey. Foothill area residents will have an opportunity to see some of these charismatic birds at close range, and to learn about their importance as predators atop the food chain, at Yosemite Area Audubon’s monthly program Nov. 10 in Oakhurst.
Master falconer Cat Krosschell, a naturalist, educator and experienced wildlife rehabilitator, will bring three live raptors and describe their adaptations, behaviors and flight characteristics in her presentation, “Birds of Prey.” The program begins at 7 p.m. at the Oakhurst Methodist Church on Road 426.
Krosschell’s special guests at the program will include a peregrine falcon, a great horned owl and a red-tailed hawk, all of them significant indicators of ecosystem health. Admired for their grace, strength, speed, independence and hunting prowess, raptors, as they’re called, have remarkable adaptations and skills for capturing and eating other animals.
The peregrine falcon’s particularly striking combination of raptor traits made it a prized captive for falconry, the so-called “sport of kings,” beginning centuries ago.
The great horned owl (the locally common “hoot owl” widespread across North America), like most owl species a nocturnal hunter with keen night vision and acute hearing, is a fierce, stealthy predator of mid-sized mammals, including skunks.
Like the great horned owl, the red-tailed hawk is almost ubiquitous in North America. Probably the most common hawk throughout its range, and a frequently sighted resident of the Sierra foothills, these buteos (large hawks with broad wings and tails) prefer open country.
Both great horned owls and red-tailed hawks begin nesting in January, and local birders have recently observed courtship behavior, including nighttime hooting between male and female owls, making Krosschell’s presentation particularly timely.
“This program offers us a rare and wonderful learning opportunity and is especially appealing to children,” YAAS president Lowell Young noted. “We encourage parents to bring the kids. Their excitement and sense of wonder in seeing these birds up close are contagious.”
Krosschell’s’s presentation is open and free to the public, although donations to defray program costs and to support Audubon’s local activities are welcome.
Details: (209) 769-0566.