Falcon Identification

We received some absolutely stunning, stupendous photos of a falcon from Jim Walling. These were taken on Dec 30, mid afternoon along the Bow River at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. He only managed to capture these three shots before the bird was gone.

Two of us here at the blog identified it as a Prairie Falcon, based on the moustachial line and the dark bar on the wing lining. However, neither of us have even seen a Prairie Falcon that is this light in colour. Some web research turned up a number of similar pictures of a Saker Falcon, a European bird used in the art of falconry.

Do we have any falconers reading this blog?! Or is this an unusually white Prairie Falcon? Your comments, please!

Posted by Pat Bumstead

Update January 9

What a dearth of comments on this bird. None of us are confident enough in our raptor ID to take a stand, but fortunately we have birding experts to give us a hand. Gus Yaki said this is a second year Prairie Falcon, and Gord Court also said this is a juvenile Prairie Falcon. Firm identification, for sure!

5 thoughts on “Falcon Identification

    • Amanda, I expect that this is a light morph Prairie Falcon.
      I only offer an opinion as so few folks have commented. I would send the photo to someone like Gus for his opinion.


  1. Prairies this light are quite often seen where I live in Utah. Sometimes they can be mistaken for Ferruge when perched at a distance. It’s hard to be 100% sure of the age looking from the underside, but my guess is that it’s a juve, based on the breast looking a bit more streaked than dotted, and the lack of yellow in the cere and feet. There also doesn’t appear to be any subtle shading differences in the flight feathers due to molt. Again, hard to tell from the underside. No thoughts on sex. Did anyone notice the band on it’s right leg? Awesome photos.

    • Yes, we noticed the band, but despite our best efforts at enhancing the original photos, we couldn’t read it. There are falcon banders working in the Calgary area, though.

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