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. 


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