Archive for Raptors

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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Red-tailed Hawk juve 2/23/18

The most common and my most photographed hawk is the Red-tailed.  The undertail is always light in Red-tails but you only see barring in the juvenile plumage, which also coincides with yellow eyes. Only adults have that rich cinnamon tail and only when you’re seeing the topside of it. Red-tailed Hawks are probably the most variably plumed hawk species in North America, with both considerable variation between the 14 subspecies as well as between individuals within a subspecies.When perched like this or soaring, the dark belly band is a fairly reliable field mark for Red-tailed Hawks in the eastern US, but there are birds which are all dark-bellied and others that are all white-bellied, though both are more common farther west.

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Merlin tiercel 1/10/18

Merlins are one of the falcons, now known to be more closely related to parrots than to other hawks. They are designed for speed and agility with long narrow wings to catch and kill smaller birds on the wing. Like most birds of prey they are sexually dimorphic with females being larger than males, an adaptation allowing a pair to better exploit prey sizes within their territory. Male falcons are called tiercels, some sources say for being roughly a third smaller than females. Merlin tiercels are also bluer winged while females are brown. Merlins are found around the Northern Hemisphere in 9 subspecies.

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