Monday, May 8, 2017

Red-footed Falcons

Here in Switzerland, many interesting birds can be seen on spring migration. Ortolan buntings, Red-throated and Tawny pipits, Black-winged Stilts and a number of rare terns can be seen.

However possibly the most interesting of these is the distinctive Red-footed Falcon. I recently saw one at the Stille Reuss in Aargau and three in the Kaltbrunner Ried. It is a rare bird, but can be quite easily seen in late spring, from mid-April to mid-May, peaking in early May, and because of its so-called loop migration it is very rarely seen in fall, prefering to take a more southerly route. It breeds in Eastern Europe and Asia but wanders frequently into Western Europe on its way back from Africa. One even ended up in the US in 2004.

This bird is very sexually dimorphic, with males being a uniform blue-gray color with a reddish undertail and a striking orange-red bill, eye ring and feet, while females have an orange head and underparts, a gray patterned back and wings and a white face with a black eye stripe.

The photos of the female are from the Stille Reuss while the ones of the male are from the Kaltbrunner Ried.

Female Red-footed Falcon
Female Red-footed Falcon
Female Red-footed Falcon
Female Red-footed Falcon
Male Red-footed Falcon
Male Red-footed Falcon catching an insect
Male Red-footed Falcon

Bonus: Purple Heron

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