|White-winged Dove with Eurasian Collared-doves in Tropic, UT.|
|13 Bald Eagles sharing a tree in southern Utah.|
|Bald Eagle - 2nd year plumage.|
There's a little rural road that leads for several miles out of the small city of Panguitch, UT past cattle farms and lots of wide open spaces. Cottonwood trees line the Sevier River that flows on the east side of the road for a little way before the river meanders off to the west side. Traveling north the river is, eventually, nearly a mile away, but you can still pick out the big dark birds with white heads perched in the trees from that distance. I had a total of 15 for the morning along that route. I can't say for sure, but have heard that most of the Bald Eagles that winter here are from British Columbia and southeastern Alaska.
|Immature light morph Rough-legged Hawk|
Considering the route was only 5 miles long, a count of 5 Ferruginous Hawks wasn't bad either. Without very many trees, but lots of pasture land that must have a fair numbers of rodents to keep the hawks fed, there sure aren't many opportunities to get photos of the birds on a nice perch. The Ferruginous pictured below is another immature specimen, also a light morph.
|Immature light morph Ferruginous Hawk|
For a 5 mile stretch of road, a total of 29 raptors isn't a bad haul at all - on average just a bit less than 6 raptors per mile! In addition to all of those, I saw a Golden Eagle and 2 other other Bald Eagles along the highway just a couple of miles before I turned onto my intended route. If there was any disappointment, it was not seeing any falcons - I've seen both Prairie Falcons and American Kestrels in that area in winter, but not on this day, unfortunately. I've got a pretty good idea where I'll be heading for my next New Year's Raptor Fest . . . and if you're planning to visit southern Utah in winter and need to see some raptors, send me a note and I will be happy to give you directions.