Fwd: Re: [BIRDWG01] Toronto's Mystery Falcon

Jean Iron jeaniron at sympatico.ca
Tue Jan 20 22:20:21 EST 2004


This was posted to the identification listserve ID-FRONTIERS.

Ron and Jean

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>Date:         Tue, 20 Jan 2004 20:04:05 -0000
>Reply-To: Phil Cannings <phil.cannings at BTOPENWORLD.COM>
>Sender: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification 
>From: Phil Cannings <phil.cannings at BTOPENWORLD.COM>
>Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Toronto's Mystery Falcon
>X-Virus-Scanned: by amavisd-new at listserv.arizona.edu
>In my humble opinion the bird in the photos appears to be a hybrid of Gyr
>falcon & Saker falcon showing a combination of features of both species.
>This is now becoming an increasingly common combination in captivity, and if
>as seems likely this is an escaped falconers bird due to its tameness and
>ring, this is not a surprising find.
>Although size is difficult to interpret from a photograph this has the
>appearance of a large, heavy and powerful falcon giving the overall
>impression of a Gyr or Saker falcon, however neither species shows exactly
>the combination that this bird does.
>The wing to tail ratio is short, indicative of a Gyr or Saker, although it
>is not as short as a pure Gyr falcon would show. Gyr falcon tends to show a
>small head with large eye, a feature not particularly visible, likewise the
>prominent moustache is not quite right for Gyr but both moustache and head
>pattern does fit Saker.
>The tail pattern (bars not spots) is right for Gyr falcon, as is the overall
>pattern of the mantle and upper parts. The flank feathers are interesting as
>they show prominent brown edgings but these appear to show a scallop pattern
>as opposed to distinct white dots or 'thumbprints' and this scalloping is a
>feature of juvenile Sakers. (I have recently studied all the skins of
>juvenile Sakers and Gyrs in the British Museum of Natural History & the
>National Museum of Scotland,  looking at this feature).
>The foot, eye-ring and cere colour, which still shows a bluish tinge,
>indicate it is not an adult, and from the overall plumage I suspect it is
>most likely a second calendar year bird.
>I look at quite a lot of falcons in captivity as part of the UK inspection
>program for captive birds of prey and have seen a number of hybrids showing
>this combination of characteristics.
>I hope these thoughts are of some help. If you wish to distribute them
>further please feel free.
>With very best wishes
>Phil. Cannings.
>Luton, United Kingdom.
>+44 777 571 2469
>-----Original Message-----
>From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
>[mailto:BIRDWG01 at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU]On Behalf Of Jean Iron
>Sent: 19 January 2004 19:18
>Subject: [BIRDWG01] Toronto's Mystery Falcon
>A confusing falcon has been around Toronto since January 11th. Many birders
>were calling it a Prairie Falcon. Jean has two photos of it on her website
>via her signature below. Please give us your opinion.
>We saw it today for the first time. It is NOT a Prairie Falcon. The bird
>has checkered black-and-white wing linings like many Peregrines. It
>completely lacks the dark wingpits (axillaries) and usual dark wing linings
>(coverts) of a Prairie Falcon. It doesn't have a white area behind the eye,
>which is typical of most Prairie Falcons. Interestingly, a band was seen on
>its right leg by three observers. It's also tame.
>Had I seen it fly by Toronto's High Park Hawkwatch in late September, I
>would have guessed a large juvenile Tundra Peregrine Falcon. Others have
>suggested a Saker or Lanner falcon or a falconer's hybrid.
>Please see two photos taken today via signature below. What is it?
>Ron Pittaway and Jean Iron
>Jean Iron
>9 Lichen Place
>Toronto ON  M3A 1X3

Jean Iron <jeaniron at sympatico.ca>

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