Raptors great and small: Ornate Hawk-Eagle and Merlin now in our area

Lucky John Beer! On a brief trip up to the mirador at Aquiares he was surprised to find an Ornate Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus Ornatus) on a branch over the road and pretty much staring him in the face.

Eagle, Hawk-, Ornate, Aquiares (1-1)
Look right! Adult Ornate Hawk-Eagle at nearby Aquiares. Photo by John Beer.

There is no sign of the black spiky crest that the adult of this species holds vertically upwards, so perhaps this is a second-year bird. It does show most of the characteristics of an adult.

Eagle, Hawk-, Ornate, Aquiares (4)
Look left! This Ornate Hawk-Eagle seems to be very aware of John’s camera. Photo by John Beer

To my knowledge this is only the third photo of a perched bird of this species in our area. One was taken some years ago by Kevin Easley in Verbena, while neighbour Sue Magree took the following beautiful photograph at her house in San Rafael:

Ornate Hawk-Eagle perched at San Rafael; photo by Sue Magree

I missed out on all of these but I make no excuses for taking great vicarious pleasure in presenting them in this blog Birdsforbeer, which is dedicated primarily to birds in the vicinity of the Turrialba Volcano.

Just as I was ruefully noting my sighting of a House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) in downtown Turrialba (photo, anyone?), John was at it again with the following excellent views of an immature or female Merlin (Falco columbarius) in his back garden in Santa Rosa:

Merlin, female, immature, Santa Rosa (1)
Immature or female Merlin, beautifully posed in a Santa Rosa garden; photo by John Beer

Whenever I see a Merlin, or even, as in this case, a picture of one, it takes me back to a small house in Willows, California. There, each morning and each evening, a Merlin sat in the lone tree in the garden plucking feathers from the breast of some unfortunate sparrow and allowing them to drift slowly down to the ground, like large snowflakes on a cold winter’s day. To close this post, here’s another fine shot of John’s Santa Rosa Merlin:

Merlin, female, immature, Santa Rosa (2)
Merlin at Santa Rosa, courtesy of John Beer 

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