Yes, those are Pelicans in Tucson. A rare sight indeed. The photographer captured these resting fowl taking a break from their journey at Arthur Pack Park, where many of today's photos were taken. For the sake of trivia, a group of Pelicans are called a pod. But if they are fishing as a group, a fleet! They can also be called a pouch, scoop or squadron.
One of my friends and former clients is an avid birdwatcher, helping increase the known and sited birds in Tucson by over 70 specimens! I recently enjoyed a zoom meeting shared by him, and he invited me to blog and pass the word about the many birdwatching opportunities in the Tucson area.
John has photographed many in his NW Tucson back yard, Arthur Pack Regional Park, Reid Park, El Rio Preserve in North Marana, as well as nearby Christopher Columbus Park and the two lakes within, located in West Tucson.
Dark Morph Red-Tailed Hawk
We've gotten a lot of hawk activity in our West Tucson home located up in the foothills. I asked John the difference between a Cooper's Hawk and a Red-tailed Hawk. Here's what he said:
They are in two different families to start with. Red-tailed Hawks are members of the Buteo family. These are the soaring hawks that ride thermals. Harris’s Hawks are in this family too. They have long wings.
The Cooper’s Hawk is in the Accipiter family, along with the smaller Sharp-shinned Hawk, and larger Northern Goshawk. The last one can be found higher up in the sky islands where the oak-juniper type begins going higher in the ponderosa pine-fir forests… generally above 5000 feet. The family is characterized by shorter wings which are broad, and longer tails; both are adapted to speed and rapid maneuvers through trees and brush.
Young Red Tailed Hawk
Red-tailed are slower flyers so they seldom go after birds in flight, but will dive on quail. They go for ground squirrels, lizards, snakes, cottontail rabbits.
Cooper’s can catch birds in flight, often targeting doves, but will go after most songbirds. When raising nestlings, they also will gladly attack rodents and reptiles…. food is food. Both groups have learned how to catch bats as they emerge at dusk.
Raptors in general are sexually dimorphic, with the females (Egg production) larger than the males by as much as 30 per cent in body mass, and several inches in length.
Red Tailed Hawk
Red-tailed have quite a variety of appearance. They can be nearly black to mostly white, though that is unusual in the Tucson basin. More frequent is variation in the belly band Some have nearly solid bands, some mottled, some almost nothing. On the rest of the breast/ belly feathers, some have a reddish cast, some very white.
Cooper’s adults have very little variation in appearance, dark gray cap, red/russet breast, the tail is banded, with a rounded tip. The eyes are red.
The juveniles, this wet one from last year, have brown mottles on the breast, and yellow eyes. Coopers tend to be 14" to 20" tall
Red-tailed hawks are larger, around 22"
Thanks John!! I thought I'd asked a simple question and I got a whole lesson!! :)
Got an eagle eye out for birds? Here's a very strange variety - called the Real Estate Bird. They can be found everywhere, indigenous to all types of terrain and tundra.
These photos are all used with permission from John, except for the real estate species above. Birds of a feather, flock together, and all that...
Looking for birdwatching opportunities in your life? Tucson might be for you and I can help with that.
Cara Mancuso, Designated Broker at Golden Girls with SW Desert Homes, 520-909-2988 Cara@SWDeserthomes.com