By Vince Zausky,
Dec. 16, 2017 Medford Christmas Bird Count
We had pretty chilly weather to begin around 8:15 a.m. with some fog and 24 degrees. It was warmer by late in the a.m. and probably hit mid-50’s by 2 or 3 p.m. At the upper sewage ponds, we usually have a lot of waterfowl but the main pond is frozen.
The second pond barely has water and that is where the waterfowl were concentrated which were mainly Mallards, a couple of Pintails and Shovelers but get this: 114 Green-winged Teals and we probably missed a few as they were hard to count (most I’ve ever seen in one place, high # for our count).
Earlier we had seen a Peregrine Falcon perched nearby on a large, metal electric pole/tower gazing over its domain. We saw it fly from the river earlier in the morning which was scary because there are duck hunters blasting along the Rogue. As we walked along the ponds, Todd Miller said, “Look!” And we looked to our right and saw 3-4 Mallards flying over the frozen pond with the Peregrine flying after them.
One duck lagged behind and the Peregrine gained on it and then snatched it right out of the air. That happened about 100′ from us, just above eye level. The Peregrine couldn’t fly far with the duck dangling from its talons but managed to land on a dike nearby and started to kill it. While it was doing that, a Harrier did a fly-by over the Peregrine but the amazing encounter was an immature Red-shouldered Hawk we saw perched earlier about 1/8-1/4 mile away.
Suddenly, the Red-shouldered flies in hard straight towards the dike/Peregrine/dead duck and drives the Peregrine off its prey. The Peregrine was VERY upset and started kack, kack, kacking repeatedly and begins diving on the Red-shoulered Hawk from about 50′ above. I really thought the Peregrine was going to kill the Red-shouldered as it came very close to its head several times. But nope.
It did the kacking and diving about 10 times and then gave up, flew back to the tower and left the duck to the Red-shouldered (who really didn’t do anything for maybe 5-10 minutes and then started eating). Two Red-tailed Hawks were soaring nearby so the Peregrine decided to harass them because the Peregrine Falcon, I believe, wants this entire hunting area to itself. It flew off the pole, above the Red-tails and kack, kacked at them repeatedly, stooping on them occasionally.
The duck on the dike was lunch (probably dinner too) for the immature Red-shouldered Hawk. Pretty brave bird, must have been real hungry?!