Friday, October 9, 2009

Skunkape Eateries

"Hello, my name is Tim, and I'll be your waiter today at Skunkape Eateries. Our specialty today is puddle-soaked butterbutt sans head, a choice morsel for eperigrinians throughout the southern great lakes. It comes with a side of that's-not-a-jaeger-either and did-it-just-get-more-misty-or-did-my-scope-just-completely-fog-over. Enjoy."

Here's the original captor:
Two peregrines were powering up and down the piers and treelines at Tiscornia this morning, looking for hapless passerines and entertaining the fisherman as they swept past. One captured the yellow-rumped warbler above. It had pulled off the head and a wing and was tucking into a yummy meal of innards when a lighthouse worker walked past it. The youngster hadn't quite worked out the process of flushing with meal intact, tried frantically to fly off while still holding the wire for about 3 wingbeats, and then released both the wire and its prey.
There's a number of "subspecies" of peregrines. Tundrius is the palest and lives in the high arctic. Anatum is intermediate and lives in the central west. Pealei is the darkest and lives on the Pacific coast. There apparently used to be an anatum in the east which died out secondary to DDT and possibly a lack of passenger pigeons per Wheeler's Raptors. The birds introduced into midwestern cities are the mixed offspring of mainly pealei and tundrius but apparently also include some heritage from subspecies in Europe, Australia, and S. America; Wheeler terms these "Eastern" peregrine. He also states there's a population of birds descended from 2 European subspecies established about Lake Superior. Those two subspecies are somewhat analagous to anatum and pealei in terms of appearance. To make things more confusing, Wheeler states that the juveniles of the native tundrius (and anatum) have both lightly-marked blonde forms and more typical birds. This bird is somewhat intermediate; I've seen birds with lighter foreheads and I've seen birds with darker ones. Peregrines are pretty common at Tiscornia in the first 2 weeks of October, I've had them there almost half of all visits from the last few days of September through those first 2 weeks. Lake Erie Hawkwatch reports peak numbers in the first week of October generally. Wheeler indicates that most of the city birds are non-migratory; our birds are probably mostly native tundrius though some may well be the introduced Lake Superior population. Info on the Ann Arbor pair (with a photo of one of their dark faced juvies and a list of prey items collected - mostly meadowlark/dove size this year (also WW crossbill (!) but no yellow rail this year) can be found here.

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