Voice of the Land
Eat, Prey, Fly…Raptors in our Backyards!
We know we are lucky living in the Rocky Mountains and nearby plains for many reasons. So are the fine Birds of Prey that live with us.
We have plenty of North America’s most common hawk, the Red-Tailed Hawk. Peregrine Falcons dot the sky frequently over the city, often nesting and waiting on top of downtown buildings and towers. Bald Eagles have been spotted hunting in City Park in Denver. And, Kestrels, Great Horned Owls and Barn Owls are not unknown here.
Birds of Prey are fascinating additions to the urban and suburban landscape…and your garden. If you are already attracting birds to your yard, you may have had some visits from raptors as well. They may go after the smaller birds, but they are also on the lookout for rodents, often mice, who are attracted to spilled seed. Or, snakes in the short grass. Most raptors hunt by keen sight.
In the city, falcons do a fine job of patrolling for insects and the famous “flying rat”, the pigeons. They have been described as masters of capturing pigeons in the urban environment. It is not unusual in Downtown Denver to have one light upon your high-rise balcony railing.
Hawks may help you with your pest control, in a sustainable way, if you live in fairly open country. But, well-wooded areas are good for hawks as well. Wine growers have also enlisted hawks to help mitigate damage from smaller grape-eating birds.
Great Horned Owls are frequently seen in this area and are particularly nocturnal, hunting in the darkest of night for mice and small rodents. They hunt by noise and are said to be one of the most noise-sensitive animals of all. One Barn Owl reportedly lives in New York’s Yankee Stadium, relatively quiet this past season.
Art of the Land supports landscapes that encourage the attraction of all the right species. But, be cautioned that Birds of Prey may not distinguish the difference between a mouse and your pet rabbit…so use caution…but enjoy the sights and sounds of these wonderful creatures.
Here is the link to the consummate bird authority, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where you can read about any bird, identify any bird, watch and listen to any bird in North America. And, for your listening enjoyment, here is a link to the sound of the Red-Tailed Hawk, or here for the Peregrine Falcon.
A special organization we’d like you to know about here in the Front Range is the Raptor Education Foundation, founded in 1980 and based in Brighton, Colorado. Their website is full of information about raptors in this area. All of their programs are fully described at the site, but we would also point out this quote from their mission: “The Raptor Education Foundation (REF) has been promoting environmental literacy since 1980 by providing schools, corporations, conventions, and gatherings of all sizes unique innovative programs and seminars that connect people with the natural world. REF utilizes an extensive cast of live, non-releasable raptors to focus attention on environmental concepts and issues.” This is a highly professional, dedicated group that deserves your attention and consideration.
Those birds soaring gracefully over your landscape? Spectacular! And, hide the mice!