Hawk Watch in Ramona, California
|This is the melanistic red-tail hawk
|This hawk was being slightly naughty
|Four types of falcons
We misjudged how long the drive would take and got there 45 minutes early. The place was already bustling with free coffee and donuts, a gift shop, a display by the San Diego Herpetological Society and spotting scopes to observe hawks out in the grasslands. Hawk Watch is a program of the Wildlife Research Institute. There were kestrels, a ferruginous hawk and a red-tail hawk observable with binoculars. The ferruginous hawk, ferruginous just means rust colored, sat on the ground in a field waiting for a gopher to peep out. We also saw a coyote trotting across the field.
The program began at 10 AM. We got up-close views of a ferruginous hawk, a young red-tail hawk (they don't turn reddish until after their first molt) and a melanistic red-tail. The melanistic red-tail has black plumage and is uncommon genetic variation of the more recognizable hawk. Red-tails are very common in Southern California.
Then, there was a flight demonstration with the young hawk and his trainer. At first, the hawk took off and peered down from a telephone wire. The trainer pulled a lure and the hawk swooped down. It was very exciting!
Then, four falcons were brought out as a comparison with the hawks. There was a large gyrfalcon, a prairie falcon, peregrine falcon and a tiny falcon.
We couldn't stay for the full program, which included a naturalist-led walk to view golden eagle and bald eagle nesting sites. There was also an opportunity to see some of the birds up close.
It was a fun and educational opportunity. It is held in January and February on Saturdays.
There is ample parking at the ranch and portable toilets.