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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kites (Elanus leucurus) may be seen in open grasslands and shrublands on the Bodega Head peninsula.  The best places to look for them are probably the grasslands across from Westside Park and the field and dunes near the Bodega Bay Community Center (between the Bodega Dunes and Highway 1).

I've been struggling to capture good (= sharp) images of this species.  They seem shy around people (at least me), so it's hard to get close to them.  And of course there's the challenge of the "Blowdega Bay" wind, with both bird and camera moving a lot.  Although I hope to take better photos in the future, I can't help posting a few photos of this handsome raptor.

Note the strongly hooked bill, black shoulders, white tail, and yellow feet.  You may be able to catch a hint of red in the eyes.

While watching this kite, I was struck by how similar the facial pattern is to another local species.  In this case, "local" may be stretching it a bit, as Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) are most often found near Bodega Canyon and Cordell Bank, about 20 miles offshore.  Here's a photo from 28 August 2011.  Check out the similarities of the pale face and dark feathering in front of the eye.

(There will be more posts about offshore species in the future!)

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