Saturday, April 28, 2018

Birds of Prey


(All images were taken in our backyard )

Standing in the backyard and seeing this birds wide wing span  only 40 feet above the ground, with a white under belly, right before he landed on this branch with a fish in it's talons... Well, it stopped me in my tracks ! Later, finding out what I was looking at was a real surprise . Husband who fishes told me that it was a it's talons. There are man made nests built for these birds in New Jersey and New York  in the marshy areas near the ocean BUT this is the first time seeing one amazingly from the backyard.
The Osprey or more specifically the Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) — also called sea hawk ,river hawk and fish hawk.  It is a large raptor,  it has a wingspan of 180 cm (5 ft 10 in) and 60 cm (24 in) in length.
The vast majority of the Osprey's diet is fish, typically 5-16 inches in size. Only occasionally, when fish aren't available, the Osprey eat small mammals, birds, or reptiles. However, the Osprey is highly specialized for eating fish and does not stray from this diet unless necessary.

*The species' decline was halted by pesticide bans but somewhat helped by the construction of artificial nest sites. Osprey numbers crashed in the early 1950s to 1970s, when pesticides poisoned the birds and thinned their eggshells. Along the coast between New York City and Boston, for example, about 90 percent of breeding pairs disappeared. In 1983, the osprey was down graded to "Threatened" from its 1976 listing as "Endangered",


Saw about 5 of these circling in the sky and thought they were hawks with a super wide wing spread until I looked up images and realized the beak was red even thought you can barely see it in this image.

The Turkey Vulture ( Cathartes aura), also know in some North American regions as the Turkey Buzzard (or just buzzard), it has a wingspan of 160-183 cm ( 5 ft 3 in to 6 ft ) and 62-81 cm (24-32 inches in length. 
The turkey vulture is a scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on carrion (decaying flesh of dead animals). 

This hawk was just relaxing on the bench after giving up on catching birds that were busy eating berries and bugs near the back door. 

The Cooper Hawk  is a member of the Accipiter family. A medium-sized hawk  native to the North American continent and found from Southern Canada to Northern Mexico. As in many birds of prey, the male is smaller than the female. Believe this is a female with a wing span of 62 - 94 cm (24 to 37 in) and her length is 42 -50 cm (17 to 20 in). 
They mainly eat birds. Oddly small birds are safer around Cooper’s Hawks than medium-sized birds: studies list European Starlings, Mourning Doves, and Rock Pigeons as common targets along with American Robins, several kinds of jays, Northern Flicker, and quail, pheasants, grouse, and chickens.
 Think this is the same bird.


Looking right at me ! Not at all afraid about 40 feet away from me and my camera.

The Red-Tailed hawk is one of the most common members within the genus of Buteo in North America or worldwide. A bird of prey that breeds throughout most of North America, from the interior of Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West Indies.
The length of the hawks measure 45-65 cm (18 to 26 in). The wingspan of red-tailed hawk is 110 to 145 cm (43 to 57 in). length of  45-55 cm (17-22 inches).
The birds have been observed eating animals as large as rabbits, which require considerably more strength to attack than smaller rodents. Other birds are also an important part of the red-tailed hawks' diet.


Still learning to ID, it's a little tricky.
 Found these images in hopes of making it easier to identify them in flight.



  1. Wow! Stunning pictures, Pat, and excellent information. A cinnamon shouldered hawk visits our garden frequently looking for frogs in our pond, but we don't have any of the ones you mentioned. At least, I've never seen any. What a good idea to use the images to help you id them. P. x

  2. Fantastic photos, Pat! On the rare occasions a red-tailed hawk lands in my own garden, the best I usually get is a fuzzy photo. And I've never captured a photo with a raptor with its catch in hand or, errr, claw.

  3. Wow, right in your yard! I see birds of prey overhead at times, but I’m so fond of the little birds who frequent my yard that I don’t think I’d welcome them!

  4. a nice collection of raptors :)

  5. Very exciting to see so many raptors in your own back yard. We occasionally see a small hawk hunting in our garden but nothing like the variety you've shown. Beautiful!

  6. Great pics! It's hard for me to identify birds of prey. We've been seeing bald eagles around our place being chased around by crows! It's the oddest thing.


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