Bogie at nine o’clock low

I went out this morning to water my back yard, which is mostly desert with a few patches of wild grass and herb borders and a vegetable patch, and there was a falcon there, eating a breakfast of fresh dove.  I went back inside and called my wife and said, “Come quick!”  We watched the falcon for a few minutes through a window, then I went back out to water.  The falcon continued its breakfasting, which included the plucking of feathers from its entree, until I turned on the hose, at which point the falcon gathered up its meal and flew a couple yards over to finish.

The house my wife and I live in is near the geographic center of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the Uptown part of town.  Our neighborhood was built about fifty years ago, during the great expansion of Albuquerque that followed the Second World War.  Adjacent parts of our neighborhood weren’t built up until the past twenty years or less, remaining desert enclaves until that time.  Roadrunners who used to live in those enclaves migrated to our neighborhood and found they could survive here, so now we have about a half-dozen or so roadrunners about.  We have various songbirds, doves and pigeons; in the winter we have crows and in the summer we have grackles.

The grackles have already started returning.  One of them was perched on the top of a neighboring juniper this morning, giving warning cries about the falcon.  I don’t imagine a falcon would go for a grackle with so many pigeons and doves around, pigeons and doves being essentially the sheep and cattle of the urban bird world.  The falcons live down by the river (the Rio Grande), in the woods there, but we’ve had one in our neighborhood for at least a year.  I’ve lived in the American Southwest most of my life, and this is the first time I’ve seen a raptor with its prey in my own back yard.

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