Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bat Falcon vs. Brown Jay,

A Brown Jay, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
While on our bird tour in Puerto Morelos, Luis pointed out a Bat Falcon sitting on a tree branch a couple hundred feet away. (Later on after looking at my pictures, I realized I photographed a Bat Falcon sitting on a ledge of one of the buildings in our resort in Cancun just two days before). But before I could draw a bead on the Falcon in my viewfinder, it took flight out of sight.  Not long after, a rather large bird with at least a two foot wingspan swooped above us and landed in a tree down the road in front of us. Luis immediately identified it as a Brown Jay. It stayed put long enough to get few pics (Above). Within a few minutes the Bat Falcon returned with prey in its talons and landed on the top of a broken tree and began picking at its kill (Below).
A Bat Falcon holding a kill in its talons, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
Val's pic of the Bat Falcon holding a kill in its talons, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
The Brown Jay sitting in the tree across the road from the Bat Falcomn suddenly became very aware and interested in the Bat Falcon. It took flight and circled around the falcon a couple of times and returned to the tree it originally was in when I first took its picture. After a few minutes, again the Jay took flight and circled the Falcon busy with its meal.  With each flight, the Brown Jay landed on a branch just a bit closer to the falcon, untill it eventually landed in a branch of the same tree within just a few feet of the falcon (Below).
The Brown Jay landing near the Bat Falcon, feigning indifference, but obviously interested in what the Falcon has in  its talons. The Bat Falcon is very aware of the Jay, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
While the Bat Falcon was busy eating its new-caught meal, the Brown Jay not being very patient suddenly made an attacking lunge at the Falcon (Below).
The Brown Jay attacks the Bat Falcon hoping to get a part of the Falcon's kill, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
But before the the Brown Jay had a chance, the falcon was gone, leaving the Jay sitting in the spot where the Falcon was eating its meal. The Brown Jay, not finding anything of interest in the spot the Bat Falcon just vacated, it also decided to leave and landed in another tree to sulk over its failed attempt at trying to steal the bat Falcon's hard-earned meal. Val  took a good picture of the sulking Brown Jay (below).
Val's pic of a Brown Jay wondering where the falcon went with the meal it tried to steal, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

It was rather an amusing little snapshot of nature playing out the age-old tale of "the survival of the fittest." We never could figure out exactly what the Bat Falcon had caught - but it looked like it had a long tail.

Brown Jays are the largest of the Jay Family growing well over a foot long with over a 2 foot wingspan, They are fairly common throughout Mexico and Central America as well as Costa Rica and other Caribbean islands. It is rarely seen in the U.S. except for an occaissional sighting along the Rio Grande at the southern tip of Texas. Brown Jays are very adaptable as they thrive in many ecological systems ranging from a dry savannah to tropical and subtropical forests as well as plantations, arable land, and former forests that have been stripped with logging.  They genrally have completely dark brown head, back, tail and wings with a creamy white belly and underneath the tail.

The Bat Falcon is named after its skill of hunting down and fondeness for its cheif prey - bats - snatching the bats in mid flight; they are also adept at catching smaller birds and large insects. They are very seldom, if ever seen in the U.S., and are mainly residents of tropical Mexico, Central and South America and Trinidad. The Bat Falcon is of a similar size to the Brown Jay, with males growing up to about 2' and females to 30" in length. Adults have a black back, head and tail. The throat, upper breast and neck sides are creamy white, the lower breast and belly are black, finely barred white, and the thighs and lower belly are orange.

1 comment:

~Val said...

I guess that's what you'd call a food fight! :-D