Thursday, March 28, 2013

And The Winners Are..

Thanks to everyone who took part in Another Bird Blog’s recent draw for a copy of The Crossley Guide:Raptors. I put the correct answers in a hat and Sue pulled out the two winners, so congratulations to Mr E. Newman of  Somerset UK and Mr W Jones of Florida USA who both gave the answer to the question as American Kestrel Falco sparverius - if you are reading this Errol and Wally, please let me have your full postal address. Soon a copy of the Crossley book will be winging its way to them courtesy of Princeton University Press and I'm sorry that only two people could win a copy of this super new book.

Here’s a copy of part of the official British List of birds from the BOURC website, where American Kestrel is listed just below our UK/European Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus.

The British List from BOURC 

Yes, just two accepted records of American Kestrel in the UK, both in 1976, the first on the remote Fair Isle north of Scotland and a later one in the extreme south of England in the county of Cornwall. There are no further records of Amercan Kestrel in the UK since 1976, but there's lots of people hoping to get one on their own Britsh List, including me.

Although we are fairly used to seeing small passerines whisked across the Atlantic in autumn low pressure systems to then landfall in the UK or Ireland it is rare for raptors to be so involved. I guess the primary reason is that birds of prey are strong fliers and can normally outpace and outmanoeuvre an adverse weather system, whereas a tiny falcon like an Amercan Kestrel of just 10 inches and the size of  a Jay, is much more likely to be caught up in such extremes.

There was a false alarm here a couple of years ago when in November 2010 thousands of UK twitchers raced across country to Sussex, England in the hope of seeing an American Kestrel, only to discover it had escaped from a wildlife sanctuary. Perhaps they didn’t know that American Kestrels are commonly kept in captivity and used in falconry, especially by beginners? So don’t despair UK birders, there’s a likelihood of more escapes but also the possibility that eventually a “real” American Kestrel will turn up again in Britain or Ireland.

There are a couple of pages from the book below, plates which show American Kestrels in their natural habitat, in lifelike scenes and in a range of age and colour variants. The whole book is based upon this pioneering approach to bird identification, a method employed in the first Crossley Guide and continued here to even better effect. The new guide is an ideal way for beginner or novice birders to learn about raptors and an opportunity for the more experienced to sharpen up their skills on the "Mystery Image" pages.

American Kestrel - from The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors 

American Kestrel - from The Crossley ID Guide:Raptors

I found this on Wiki - The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), sometimes known as the “Sparrow Hawk” is actually a small falcon, and the only kestrel found in the Americas. Until the sixth edition of the AOU Checklist of North American Birds was published by the American Ornithologists' Union in 1983, the most commonly used name for the American Kestrel was the “Sparrow Hawk” or “Sparrowhawk”. This was due to a mistaken connection with the Eurasian Sparrowhawk, however the latter is an accipiter rather than a falcon. Though both are diurnal raptors, they are only distantly related. 

In fact, and I read this up on Wiki too, the American Kestrel is not a true kestrel at all. DNA analysis indicates a Late Miocene split between the ancestors of the American Kestrel, and those of the European Common Kestrel and its closest relatives. The colour pattern of the American Kestrel with large areas of brown is reminiscent of kestrels, but the colouration of the head - notably the black ear patch, which is not found in any of the true kestrels - and the male's extensively grey wings are suggestive of a closer relationship with the hobby family. 

American Kestrel by Greg Hume via Wikimedia CC.

Oh, why is this birding stuff so complicated? 

Call into Another Bird Blog soon for more news, pictures and points of view about our feathered friends.


eileeninmd said...

Congrats to the winners! The Kestrel is a beautiful and colorful bird! Happy Birding, Phil!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Congratulations to the winners. I am really taken aback myself since my first thought was American Kestrels, but then I watched a documentary not that long ago about the Kestrels in UK, and I expect the American species...that was the magic word, that I had not realized. Yeah always a fun thing to keep one motivated to learn more. I shall order this book online, because it does look like a great one to add to the ones that I already have. Jerry was one of the fine gentlemen, who is a friend of mine Pete, that actually firmly gave ID to my hybrid hawk year before last. Have a wonderful day Phil!

Errol Newman said...

Wow! My luck is changing! So is the season - lots of Chiffies coming through now (Phylloscopus collybita)

Mary Howell Cromer said...

There, done, purchased;'! Thank you again for introducing us to this book Phil~

grammie g said...

Hey Phil...I knew that I just wanted everybody else to have a
chance lol... ; )
I like Mary had the same thought on it,but it was the American was the magic word! I had the whole family nest in the front yard tree a couple of years back, don't know if I was following you then!! Posted on them July 2011 I think !! I feel in love with raptors that summer!!
Big Congrats to the winners...I guess I have to buy my own ; )!!
Your ID Raptor bookless friend!

Wally Jones said...

Wow! What a nice way to start a day!
Thank you, Phil!
Okay, more appropriately, thank you, Sue!

This week I've got my eye on a male and female American Kestrel who appear to be courting. Hope they soon offer some photo ops and I'll send them to you.

Again, thank you!

Kind Regards - Wally

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The pictures from the book are wonderful; what a great review. Lots to learn in your post alone. Lucky winners. I know that Wally is a great birder; I enjoy his blog very much. If I could learn just a fraction of what you and he know I would feel brilliant!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Congrats to the winners! Looks like a wonderful book.

grammie g said...

Hey Phil...My birthday just went by now I have to wait a whole year, by then it will be outdated; old news!!
I know I screwed up!!
You have a Nice Easter, and make sure you hide plenty of eggs for those grandkids!! ; )

grammie g said...

Hey Phil...My birthday just went by now I have to wait a whole year, by then it will be outdated; old news!!
I know I screwed up!!
You have a Nice Easter, and make sure you hide plenty of eggs for those grandkids!! ; )

Rohrerbot said...

Congrats to the winners! American Kestrels are lovely birds. They are everywhere here in Tucson as they are a common bird for us. I do love when those weather systems blow in something new and fun:)

Llanite said...

Belated, but WAY TO GO DAD! And thank-you Phil, for a great blog and contest.

I'm actually hoping to visit your fair isle this summer (and saving up for a new lense before I do).

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