Sixty degrees, my car temperature gauge read. I couldn’t resist heading to farm country to see what changes had come with the warmer weather.
Right away I noticed the farmland ponds were thawing, some more than others.
I watched this pair of mallards swimming in one. Notice the male navigating an ice floe that remained.
Above the pond on a tree limb, I saw this Rough-legged Hawk, still here from its winter migration.
Then I saw these three cranes feasting on corn dregs in a field near where I usually see them. Was this my crane family from last season with the young crane all grown?
I spied another hawk, this one a Red-shouldered. Like the cranes, it was a “snowbird” returning from its winter in the South.
But the catch of the day was this beautiful American Kestrel, a dainty falcon that I’d not seen before. I felt so lucky! The black facial stripes below its eyes was the identification giveaway.
The reddish-brown tail feathers reminded me of a Red-Tailed Hawk, but in the Kestrel, the solid color tail feathers and slate-blue wings indicated this bird was a male.
The Kestrel took flight and I got a good look its undersides. I’ll surely know this falcon the next time I see one.
The sky had started to spit so I headed home. I stopped to pick up my mail and found the spring issue of my Audubon magazine. Would you believe the cover picture was an American Kestrel? The lead story was about the race to halt the decline of this much-loved falcon. What serendipity!