This is not a Grey Falcon but it could fool many!
About a year ago I started bird watching and took my Camera along to some bushland near my home. I didn’t know very much about birds. I just looked, listened and tried to get a few photos. The second day I became very excited over a grey bird that dived quickly from a very high perch in a tree.
This photo is the best I could get:
When I got home I put all the photos I had taken onto my computer. I then proceeded to identify each bird using the Simpson and Day Field Guide. The last bird was this grey one.
The best match I could find was the “Grey Falcon” – a rare bird.
Identification process for the Grey Falcon:
The Grey Falcon is grey with black streak under eye, black wing tips, white under belly with fine dark streaks, grey tail, and tail and wings faintly barred .
The habitat of Grey Falcons is woodland, plains and scrub in the arid interior often near waterholes.
The birds features include; eye brown, bill grey; eye ring, and cere and legs yellow.
Grey Falcons may be seen singly or in pairs. When hunting they fly very fast, close to the ground and pounce on prey. Normal flight is rather slow alternating wing beats and gliding. Grey Falcon can soar to great heights and spread their tails as they rise.
What to do with a rare find?
A fundamental principle for beginner bird watchers where there are two species your specimen could be:
If one is commonly found in the area you are in and the other is not known to be found in the area you are in … then your bird is probably the one commonly found there!
When it comes to grey birds of prey there was only one option at this location a Grey Falcon. But what would be the chance someone on their second day bird watching would find a rare bird.
So I surfed the net until I found a professional ornithologist searching for Grey Falcons. I sent him an email with my images and asked him to please identify my bird.
Clue: Look closely at the image and you will see a dark band about two thirds of the way down the tail.
This actual marking confirms the bird is a Nankeen Kestrel. The Nankeen Kestrel is a common species ( meaning it has a strong population)
However Nankeen Kestrels are not grey on their back and wings. The standard colouring of a Nankeen Kestrel is rufous (red-brown).
This means my specimen is not a rare Grey Falcon but it is unusual in that it is a grey Nankeen Kestrel.
From this point on I have been hooked and I do hope to find a Grey Falcon one day.
How to help researchers and our declining and/or endangered species:
This experience with identifying unusual grey coloured Nankeen Kestrel is an example of how you can help researchers and maybe help save declining species.
I have set out these steps in a previous post, and will repeat them here for our readers:
1 familiarize yourself with the species and its habit
2 observe carefully every chance you get
3 take a note of exactly where you are and what you see and find
4 report anything you might see to this website and to the National Parks and Wildlife authority for the State you are in.
Have fun wildlife watching
By Amanda Jackson