Spotted in Marathon Park

While playing with the kids today in Marathon Park, I heard a high pitched sort of whistling shriek. I was more than a little surprised to look up in the trees and see not one, not two, but five raptors in one tree! Even more suprising was that thesebirds were flying around the tall pine trees right over the children’s playgrounds where all the people were. So it was quite a show for those who looked up.
I am saying “raptors” because even after enlarging the pictures and consulting a bird guide, I still do not feel comfortable making an identification in print. It seems that the five birds constitute a family with 2 adults and 3 immature birds. One of the interesting behaviors that observed was an immature bird would come down to the ground and grab a stick or a leaf and throw it around a bit, apparently practicing their hunting skills. They were so involved with their game that they let people walk quite close to them. It was an interesting display.

If any of you have an idea of exactly what kind of birds these are, I would appreciate that. I have a few guesses, but don’t want to prejudice anyone. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but they were taken with a “point and shoot” digital. They are quite good considering the equipment, but not exactly National Geographic.

As usual, I have posted one here and the rest are on the Flickr Site.

Raptor Spotted in Marathon Park


5 responses to “Spotted in Marathon Park

  1. After looking long and hard at the bird book, I am going to say a harrier of somekind, most likely a Northern Harrier, also known as a Marsh Hawk.

  2. Could it be…a sea gull? Being a non bird guy…I must say…and type more groupings of three periods…that birds are fascinating…but I dont think it…is a sea gull

  3. Wow–nice photo! I never can get photos like this with a point and shoot!

  4. Wow, I was just reading an article about the return of the Peregrine Falcons to the State of Wisconsin and after looking at the websites below I believe this is a Peregrine Falcon. What a great shot of one and to think they are here in Wausau. What do you think?

  5. To be honest, my first thought was “falcon” as well. But an old saying in medicine says that “when you hear hoofbeats, don’t think of a zebra first.” Being in a forested area does make more sense for a falcon, but harriers live in the woods as well. The Peterson Bird guide seemed to indicate less banding on the tails, but looking at photos of the peregrine, the falcon’s tail is also fully banded.

    Here are some photos of a peregrine in flight and I would agree that the Marathon Park birds (given the quality of the photos) are possibly the same. But the Marathon birds seem much less speckled and the eyes and talons don’t seem yellow like the peregrines.

    It would be wonderful if those were peregrines, and perhaps the jury is still out, but if I had to bet, I guess I would still bet Northern Harrier.

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