Each fall, hundreds of thousands of hawks, eagles, ospreys and falcons withdraw from their breeding grounds across North America and move to their wintering grounds, some as far away as southern South America. In the Panhandle of Oklahoma, the High Plains give way to the canyon country and foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This unique area supports birds associated with the prairies as well as birds associated with the western mountains and canyons.
The Sutton Avian Research Center has monitored nesting raptors in Cimarron County, the western most county of the Panhandle, for several years. Some of the species found there include: Prairie Falcons, American Kestrels, Mississippi Kites, Swainson's Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, and Golden Eagles. For some of these species, this is the only part of Oklahoma where they can be found nesting.
“Raptors, Birds of Prey” by Scott Weidensaul, is a wonderful guide for enthusiasts and anyone interested in the natural world, with plenty of full-color photographs.
“Eagles: Masters of the Sky,”edited by Rebecca Grambo, blends natural history and legend.
In “On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon” by Alan Tennant, the author recounts his attempt to track the transcontinental migration of the majestic peregrine falcon — an investigation no one before him had ever taken to such lengths. From the windswept flats of the Texas barrier islands to the Artic and then south again into the Caribbean, “On the Wing” provides a hilariously mischievous and bumpy flight.
While autumn leaves tumble from trees this fall, another natural wonder is soaring overhead, so visit the library to learn more about these predators… and don’t forget to look up in the sky!