Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Birds of prey across Southern California show sharp drop in breeding

by Take Two®

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Two peregrine falcons chase a black crow from their nest during a handing off ceremony of the first of six C-17 Globemaster III airlifters built for the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence at the Boeing final assembly facility at Long Beach Airport on May 10, 2011 in Long Beach, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Across Southern California, birds of prey are showing sharp declines in breeding, and many researchers believe the drought is a leading factor in the drop off of the raptors.

They're seeing more and more emaciated hawks, falcons, kites, owls and eagles, and a change in the way the birds hunt.

"We're finding birds that are emaciated, that appear to be on the verge of starvation," Scott Thomas, a bird researcher based in Orange County, told Take Two.

Thomas says that in about 25 years of monitoring the raptors, he's never seen them in such dire shape.

"Whatever kicks in to say that it's time to start producing eggs and it's time to start working on the nest, just didn't kick in this year," he said.

A drop in small mammals, a primary source of food for raptors, could be to blame, said Thomas. Though it will take a while to figure out how the population could change long term, he called the drop off "concerning."

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