Prairie Falcon over Sunset Reservoir 3/19/23 + minor miscellaneous observations


this afternoon shortly after 15:30 walking with Megan Mosur around the west periphery of Sunset Reservoir (28th avenue side between Ortega and Pacheco) noted a PRAIRIE FALCON flying south into the 15mph head wind. It came in really low , barely over the solar panels allowing good looks at the brown upper parts /with slightly contrasting paler tail, and displaying the classic dark underwing coverts/axillaries aka wing pits as it banked in the wind. The wing tips also looked notably more rounded /less acutely pointed as would be seen on a peregrine.

Earlier in the day I did a quick loop of Pine Lake where there was a pair of first arrival Northern Rough-winged Swallows over the water and a Lincoln’s Sparrow in the willows on the east end of the lake. The sparrow was likely a migrant as well as one hadn’t been noted here previously this year in numerous visits. I have been hearing Orange-crowned Warblers starting to sing from various locations the last few days and this is typically when they start moving through although this can be tough to ascertain since they are also common wintering bird. However a healthy count of (4) at Pine Lake where I had not encountered more than two in previous weeks points to at least some of these as being migrants also.

Yesterday walking past Laguna Honda Reservoir I peeked into the large cypress growing just inside the fence, near the bee hives, off Clarendon Ave. Deep inside the tree was a pair of cupcaking Band-tailed Pigeons; nuzzling and allopreening only to look startled at being discovered like a couple of love struck teenagers. Seems only inevitable before Band-tails are confirmed breeding in the area this year.

And finally to answer David Armstrong’s question regarding Vesper Sparrows, yes it appears that the bird photographed this morning by visiting Michigan birder Will Keller is the first spring record for the city and county of San Francisco.

Good job, Will!

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco