Burrowing owl, merlins, and kestrels bring a great end to fall migration

So we’ve had a lot going on in the last couple of months at the Dry Tortugas National Park. Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy put a damper on the Park, briefly halting all commercial transport out, but the weather has taken a turn for the better, cooling down in the low seventies in the last week with a nice breeze. This has made soaring quite easy for the raptors that remain out at the fort, late migrants.

I’ve seen a female harrier, peregrine falcons, merlins, kestrels, and cooper’s hawks in the last couple of weeks. I even saw the remains of a kestrel in the parade ground, most likely predated by a cooper’s hawk of merlin.

Peregrine falcon perched on the tower.

Cooper's hawk cruising over the parade ground.

American kestrel perched on the top tier of the Fort.

However, the most exciting recent sighting was the return of a lone burrowing owl that hadn’t been seen since December of 2010 at the Park. As of last Wednesday, the bird was roosting peacefully in the main powder magazine, clearly visible when you walked into the magazine.

Burrowing owl perched inside the main powder magazine.

Hopefully the beautiful little bird sticks around for a few more days.

More updates to come.

Happy birding,

–Chelsea B.

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