Yesterday D. and I went to the nearby Arastradero Preserve, a 622-acre open space preserve in the Palo Alto Calif. foothills not far from our house, to see a presentation called "Raptor Heaven" given by Sky Hunters about the different kinds of raptors usually found on the preserve.
First we met the American kestrel (Falco sparverius).
They are about the size of a starling and they eat lots of little mice and grasshoppers and lizards.
Next we met the barn owl (Tyto alba). They nest in cavities and can raise up to 12 babies at once! Imagine all the mice they have to catch to feed all those kids.
And they have such amazing eyes, especially when they look right at you.
There were also a live red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), but it wouldn't sit still long enough for me to get a good pic.
After the presentation, a park ranger led us on a hike to some of the preserve's best raptor-watching areas. We saw red-winged blackbirds and lots of swallows soaring over the grassy hillsides eating bugs, but the only raptors we saw were a white-tailed kite, and a kestrel attacking a red-tailed hawk to drive it away from its territory.
Here's the view from the Meadowlark Trail.
California wild rose on the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail.