|Great Blue Heron with Picacho Peak in the background|
Later I found a group of eleven plovers in a dry field that offered a closer look.
Apparently, the insect supply here is good enough to keep them coming back each winter. Poorly named, Mountain Plover prefer flat open plains, not mountains. Typically far from water, they nest in shortgrass prairie, including overgrazed pasture and dry plains.
Next, I began my search for Crested Caracara. I didn't have to try very hard. After a few minutes, one flew across the road in front of me and landed in a distant field with its buddy. They were following a small plow, presumably picking off the insects it turned up.
I continued down the road a few miles when a big cloud of dust caught my attention. A Crested Caracara emerged from the cloud and landed behind the dust-producing plow. I looked around the field and counted 17 caracaras... jackpot! They were no doubt feasting on insects turned up by the plow. They would wait for the plow to pass, then walk or land behind it in search of a tasty treat. What crafty little devils! This was one of the coolest bird behaviors I've ever seen.
Some other cool stuff I saw:
|Great Blue Heron|
By now, most of the Mountain Plovers have probably made their way to their breeding grounds. Birds are on the move everywhere. Goodbye winter, hello spring!