A Scrapbook of Bird Identifications - Raptors

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Raptors can be easily recognized by the deadly nature of their bills and claws. They include the smaller accipiters (which typically hunt smaller birds), like the Cooper's Hawk, the kites, the larger buteos (which typically hunt rodents), such as the Red-tailed Hawk, the falcons and the vultures.

American Kestral

smallest North American falcon

rufous, barred back and falcon head pattern
Bald Eagle

second year plumage (from back)

adult at rest

juvenile (dark belly)

adult squawking/barking just like velociraptors in Jurassac Park

juvenile (dark head and bill)

juvenile (dark belly, pattern of white)

adult in flight; call is much weaker than you might expect
Black Vulture

silvery ends on all-black wings

dark head, black back
Broad-winged Hawk

light adult (breast, belly pattern)
Coopers Hawk

large rounded tail, bands on primary feathers

back of neck pale (Sharp-shinned is dark)

speckled throat and breast, tip of tail white; larger than Sharp-shinned Hawk
Merlin

falcon facial pattern, white throat, buffy undertail, strongly checkered/barred underwings

small, gray back, barred front
Northern Harrier

harriers distinguished by owl-like face and white rump

juvenile (orange body); note pale bar on upper wings near body

female (brown/white barred underwing pattern)
Osprey

unique; call is much weaker than you would expect

note size, facial pattern, white/dark pattern underneath
Peregrine Falcon

gray back, falcon facial pattern; juvenile (adult has white breast)
Red-shouldered Hawk

juvenile (even streaking on front, little or no orange)

orange body, wing patches, checkered wings, narrow tail bands

orange bars on belly merge at breast, orange on shoulders; stocky; facial look distinctive
Red-tailed Hawk

juvenile (faint streaking on front, tail not yet red)

red tail, dark streaks on belly, dark commas mid-wing, dark wing edges

ubiquitous; streaked belly; red tail not always obvious while perching; often perches near roads; call is often a single long screech, descending in tone
Turkey Vulture

pink head, yellow bill, pale legs, otherwise blackish-brown; nasty hissing voice

pink head, silver/white wing tips and trailing half, long tail


©2017, Kenneth R. Koehler. All Rights Reserved.