Archive for Raptors

Red-tailed Hawk 11/14/18

Red-tailed Hawks are classic buteos, the genus of hawks characterized by robust bodies, broad wings, and wide tails that enable them to circle and soar the heights effortlessly in search of prey. You’ll also find them perched in trees along the highway, or scanning the ground from a phone pole or wire, ready to pounce on some hapless rodent. Red-tails are large even for a buteo (in Europe buteos are called buzzards), and females are up to a third larger than males. North of us, many Red-tails migrate but in Southern Maine they remain abundant during the winter months.

 

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Wood Duck juveniles 9/4/18

There are many drab young ducks around ponds and wetlands this time of year, but it’s only the young Wood Ducks sporting that bold white eyeliner. Within a day of hatching, the ducklings climb up to the nest opening and . . . jump. Often nests are built directly over water, but suitable cavity nests are rare, and many wind up being some distance away. A lot of a Wood Duck’s diet is found by foraging on land—seeds, berries, acorns, insects, as well as by dabbling for underwater shoots and aquatic invetebrates in the shallows. They get their name from the claws on their feet, which unlike all other North American ducks, allows them to perch in trees.

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Osprey pair 5/17/18

I found this pair of Osprey checking out the platform along the marsh channel at York Harbor, they sat together for quite some time but they only seemed to have eyes for the nest platform as if they’d already decided to build. What a treat, the Bald Eagle nest is only a few hundred yards away. I can’t ever remember a ti me I could drive just a few miles for an Osprey or Bald Eagle nest, let alone both!

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Cooper’s Hawk, immature male 4/19/18

We have 3 Accipiter hawks in New England, relatively slender birds compared to the bulkier soaring hawks. Accipiters have short rounded wings and long rudder-like tails designed for maximum maneuverability for chasing littler birds through the woods. The 3 species are basically different sizes of the same design, with the Cooper’s Hawk being the mid-sized model. This one’s a juvenile, revealed by the yellow iris which turns red as the bird ages. Juve Coops also have a finely streaked breast, like raindrops, unlike the smaller Sharp-shinned which has a more barred breast or the larger Northern Goshawk which has a more heavily streaked breast. Another definitive clue to it being a Cooper’s Hawk are the outer tail feathers being shorter, resulting in a rounded tail. Tail feathers all the same length produce a more squared-off look.

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Snowy Owl 4/11/18

It’s been another banner year for Snowy Owls in the US, with sightings especially abundant in the Northeast and Midwest. Even Texas got quite a show this winter. These are mostly younger birds not yet experienced enough to endure an Arctic winter. Already the northward migration has been underway for a couple of weeks. Looking a little ragged in the rain, this one atop a phone pole at Rye Harbor was still around as of last weekend.

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Turkey Vulture 4/2/18

 

I found this TV at an intersection in Raymond, NH. There were 3 or 4 others that flying around when I first pulled over, but they soon left making this one the late comer getting the leftovers once the others had their fill. That’s a possum he’s working over, very likely roadkill as we’re just off the shoulder of a country highway. TVs are always cruising the highways. They don’t ever kill anything but must seek out carrion to survive. They are highway waste managers.

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Barred Owl 3/14/18

Barred Owls are common in eastern North America and are also known as hoot owls and wood owls. They like open old growth woods where they can hunt small mammals and the occasional bird or herp.  They are tuftless or earless compared to say the Great Horned or Eastern Screech, some being more gray while others more brown. They belong to the genus Strix with 23 species worldwide and out west they are considered invasive for the negative competitive impact they’ve had on their smaller Spotted Owl cousins. With their big dark brown peepers, they’re one of just a few owl species that don’t have yellow eyes.

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