I got photos! They are not very good photos, but you can see the birds. I have eliminated the possibility that they are Merlins, wrong colour.

I checked with What Bird again and am no further ahead in identifying it. They may be Prairie Falcons, in which case, they are way far north of their usual areas, the call is close. They may also be American Kestrels, but they would have to have been the females or juveniles - again, the call is close. The only other thing they could be is Peregrines, there has been a nesting pair living year round in down town Edmonton for years now. Not exactly their usual hunting grounds, but they are there, too bad the call and the colour are not quite right.

The first two shots are the same bird. I am not sure clicking to enlarge will make it any clearer.

This is the second one and shooting into the light, all I have is silhouette - um and his dinner.

This is the third one we could find. A good shot from below that shows the detail of his tail (no, he restrained him or herself).

And as we were ending our walk, this was how the sky looked.

We could hear a fourth, but didn't catch sight of him/her. If anyone can give me another choice of bird, the call sounded most like the Merlin or the Prairie Falcon.

Have a good day all.


Leah J. Utas said...

Immature Northern Harrier?
I'm no help.
Good pics, Reb.

the Bag Lady said...

It's hard to tell from the photos exactly how big the birds are, but they look too large to be immature American Kestrels. And the colouring is wrong for adult Kestrels.
I tend to agree with cousin Leah - they look like Northern Harriers to me..... but I'm no expert.
Did you see any of them in flight? Did they have white bellies?

the Bag Lady said...

Just checked with my bird book, and they could be Merlins. According to my book, Merlins are larger than Kestrels, and Edmonton has more nesting pairs than any other city (in Alberta, I think they mean.)

bunnygirl said...

Very cool, whatever kind of falcon it is. I wish I could get pics that good of the ospreys around here.

Reb said...

Thanks Leah. I might try again over the weekend.

Sis, it is a bit difficult to tell for sure. I don't think they had white bellies, they didn't fly last night for us. I think the Merlins are supposed to be greyer though.

Thanks Bunnygirl. Ospreys are lovely.

Anonymous said...

I'm no good in the ID department, but I'm glad you had the opportunity to take the pics!

Reb said...

Thanks Kcinnova.

Hilary said...

It looks like it's either pretty young or moulting.. maybe. Frank suggested maybe it's a sharp-shinned hawk?

Reb said...

Hilary, it could be that too. I think they were pretty young too.

Barbara Martin said...

From my bird book, A Field Guide to the Birds of North America, by Michael Vanner, your photos look very much like the Northern Harrier. The photos of the other predator birds don't match up like the Northern Harrier does. So that's your best bet.

Clare2e said...

I consulted my book, too, the National Audubon Field Guide and without reading the thread, also found the Northern Harrier as a possibility, but the Merlin's not out of contention. Here's what I've got.

The female Harrier or Marsh Hawk is brownish and 16 to 24 inches long with a 3.5 foot wingspan. The young are rusty-colored. Notably, these have a white rump, and hunt quite low to the ground, preferring marshy areas. Their soaring looks a little wobbly or uncertain, and their call is kee-kee-kee, or a sharp whistle given at the nest. Their disk shaped faces give them a slightly owlish aspect. Unlike other hawks, these tend not to pursue in the air or perch to watch their prey.

The other possibility I found was a Merlin or pigeon hawk. The males are slate-colored, but again, the females are brownish. These are a degree smaller than the Harriers, at only 10 to 14 inches, and are stockier than Kestrels, though their klee-klee-klee call is supposed to be similar. This bird is quite aggressive and will harass larger hawks and gulls.

Based upon size, call, and flight behavior, does any of this info help narrow it down?

Keep us posted. It's (she's?) a beauty and inquiring minds love to know.

Clare2e said...

Forgot to mention: in my pictures, the Harrier has a spray of lighter feathers across the eyebrows and bridge of the beak which I didn't see in your pictures (or the picture of the Merlin). If it's shrimpy-sized and almost solid brown, I think it's the pigeon hawk.

Merry said...

Oooh, cool! I totally stink at identifying birds, but at the same time I really want to know what they're called. I love that you've got commenters who can make some educated guesses :)

Reb said...

Barbara, thanks, I think the Northern Harrier is winning the votes ;)

Clare, thanks. The concensus does seem to be leaning toward the Northern Harrier.

Merry, I am glad for my readers too. It is just such a treat to see them in the city.

Dianne said...

they're sweet birds whatever they are
bird is as much as I ever know

the sky is stunning!!

Reb said...

Thanks Dianne. Yes, bird is sometimes as close as I get, I can id two or three with accuracy ;)