Snake River Birds of Prey – Prairie Falcons
Music; Ambience: Prairie Falcon
JM: Winding its way beneath towering cliffs, the Snake River flows through the harsh desert environment near Boise, Idaho. The region is a popular nesting ground for a bird of prey known as the prairie falcon. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Prairie falcons are one of several species of raptors that make their home in the Snake River Birds of Prey Sanctuary. Sightings of falcons draw eager onlookers from around the world.
BH: “Here comes the prairie falcon right now, and you can see he’s coursing right below the canyon about a hundred and fifty feet. Now he’s going to go out over the river and he really shines when he gets out over that water. Now he’s going to turn. Sun’s kind of banking off his wings. It’s a good day to watch falcons.”
JM: The prairie falcon can reach speeds in excess of 150 miles an hour, as it dives to capture its favorite prey – ground squirrels. Bruce Haak is with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
BH: “They use these up drafts from these canyon walls to save energy. These falcons use the lift that these winds provide and also the thermal energy, because you know, this country gets really hot in the spring and summer. And they can actually soar up on these wind currents to thousands of feet high and go out to foraging areas and expend essentially no energy in soaring up to these ground squirrel colonies. And they go into these high speed dives and sneak attack the ground squirrels from great heights, and basically from an unforeseen position.”
JM: About a hundred pairs of prairie falcons use the sanctuary’s eighty-two miles of river canyon -with its many cracks and crevices – to nest and feed their ravenous young. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.