The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) is the fastest known animal! 
They ambush prey by diving in from great heights and at incredible speed; during this “stoop”, they can reach well over 200 mph (322 km/h). In order to achieve such speeds they have a few specialized adaptations. One is a bony projection inside the nostril that acts as a baffle, disrupting the air flow and reducing air pressure, making it easier for the bird to breathe. 
They use their third eyelid - the clear nictitating membrane present in many animals - to keep the eye free of debris and protect it from the powerful wind. The black cheeks help reduce glare from sunlight and water so they can better target their prey. 
They almost exclusively feed on medium-sized birds which they catch in flight; to avoid injuring themselves from the high-speed impact, the falcons target one of the prey’s wings. Peregrines have one of the most diverse diets of all raptors, with over 300 species of North American birds having fallen prey to them. 
They are also among the most adaptable of our raptors and have readily settled into cities where high-rises appeal to their cliff-nesting preferences and pigeons offer an excellent source of food, often making up 80% of an urban Peregrine’s diet.photograph by budgora on Flickr
(via: Peterson Field Guides)

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) is the fastest known animal!

They ambush prey by diving in from great heights and at incredible speed; during this “stoop”, they can reach well over 200 mph (322 km/h). In order to achieve such speeds they have a few specialized adaptations. One is a bony projection inside the nostril that acts as a baffle, disrupting the air flow and reducing air pressure, making it easier for the bird to breathe.

They use their third eyelid - the clear nictitating membrane present in many animals - to keep the eye free of debris and protect it from the powerful wind. The black cheeks help reduce glare from sunlight and water so they can better target their prey.

They almost exclusively feed on medium-sized birds which they catch in flight; to avoid injuring themselves from the high-speed impact, the falcons target one of the prey’s wings. Peregrines have one of the most diverse diets of all raptors, with over 300 species of North American birds having fallen prey to them.

They are also among the most adaptable of our raptors and have readily settled into cities where high-rises appeal to their cliff-nesting preferences and pigeons offer an excellent source of food, often making up 80% of an urban Peregrine’s diet.

photograph by budgora on Flickr

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

raptorwing
raptorwing:

hornygirlsthingsandships:

raptorwing:

Grey goshawk of Australia (white morph) - Accipiter novaehollandiae - the only pure-white bird of prey that is not a result of albinism.

Yeah but why is it called grey?

The Grey goshawk simply comes in two color forms.  The grey morph and the white morph.  The grey morph is more common than the white morph, thus the species is named for the more common version.Grey morph birds look like this:
image source: click

raptorwing:

hornygirlsthingsandships:

raptorwing:

Grey goshawk of Australia (white morph) - Accipiter novaehollandiae - the only pure-white bird of prey that is not a result of albinism.

Yeah but why is it called grey?

The Grey goshawk simply comes in two color forms.  The grey morph and the white morph.  The grey morph is more common than the white morph, thus the species is named for the more common version.
Grey morph birds look like this:

image source: click

Hawk ID - MN, USA:
This is a really crappy picture, sorry about that. 
I’m trying to figure out what kind of hawk this is.  At least I assume it’s a hawk.  We spotted it in Minneapolis, MN on some railroad tracks, and then it kept hopping and flapping its wings as it tried to scurry away from people nearby.  It seemed injured (I did call animal control, but I’m not sure what happened to it after that :/ )  It had a pretty pale/cream colored chest, the feathers went pretty far down it’s legs as well.  It seemed to have a black tip on its beak, I didn’t -notice- any speckles or spots or anything on its chest but I could’ve been too far away. 
I’ve been looking through various bird identification websites and I’m just really stumped.  If you’re able to tell at all from this picture (despite the horrid quality - it was zoomed all the way), I’d really appreciate it, thank you!
Paxon:
No need to apologize. This photo is definitely good enough for identification.
This is an immature eastern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicencis). As juveniles, they do not have the rusty red tails of the adults. The keys here are the bulky size (that tells you its a buteo), the the mostly white neck breast and belly, and the spotty brown back and shoulders. :3

Hawk ID - MN, USA:

This is a really crappy picture, sorry about that. 

I’m trying to figure out what kind of hawk this is.  At least I assume it’s a hawk.  We spotted it in Minneapolis, MN on some railroad tracks, and then it kept hopping and flapping its wings as it tried to scurry away from people nearby.  It seemed injured (I did call animal control, but I’m not sure what happened to it after that :/ )  It had a pretty pale/cream colored chest, the feathers went pretty far down it’s legs as well.  It seemed to have a black tip on its beak, I didn’t -notice- any speckles or spots or anything on its chest but I could’ve been too far away. 

I’ve been looking through various bird identification websites and I’m just really stumped.  If you’re able to tell at all from this picture (despite the horrid quality - it was zoomed all the way), I’d really appreciate it, thank you!

Paxon:

No need to apologize. This photo is definitely good enough for identification.

This is an immature eastern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicencis). As juveniles, they do not have the rusty red tails of the adults. The keys here are the bulky size (that tells you its a buteo), the the mostly white neck breast and belly, and the spotty brown back and shoulders. :3

HOUSTON AUDUBON BEAK OF THE WEEK: Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) Family: Accipitridae Broad-winged Hawks are small, compact raptors with chunky bodies and large heads. In flight, their broad wings come to a distinct point. The tail is short and square with black-and-white bands. Their call is a piercing, two-parted whistle.  One of the greatest spectacles of migration is a swirling flock of Broad-winged Hawks on their way to South America. Also known as “kettles,” flocks can contain thousands of circling birds that evoke a vast cauldron being stirred with an invisible spoon. Witness the marvel of migration in person by visiting the Smith Point Hawk Watch on the Bolivar Peninsula. Sponsored by the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, counters and volunteers record the number of hawks observed from Aug 1- Nov 15. Broad-winged Hawk migration makes up 70% of the birds counted. During the peak of Broad-winged Hawk migration on the day of or the day after a cold front, it is not unusual for more than 10,000 raptors to pass by the tower. 
Learn more about the watch by visiting their blog: 
http://smithpointhawkwatch.wordpress.com/
(via: Houston Audubon)

HOUSTON AUDUBON BEAK OF THE WEEK:

Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)

Family: Accipitridae

Broad-winged Hawks are small, compact raptors with chunky bodies and large heads. In flight, their broad wings come to a distinct point. The tail is short and square with black-and-white bands. Their call is a piercing, two-parted whistle.

One of the greatest spectacles of migration is a swirling flock of Broad-winged Hawks on their way to South America. Also known as “kettles,” flocks can contain thousands of circling birds that evoke a vast cauldron being stirred with an invisible spoon.

Witness the marvel of migration in person by visiting the Smith Point Hawk Watch on the Bolivar Peninsula. Sponsored by the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, counters and volunteers record the number of hawks observed from Aug 1- Nov 15. Broad-winged Hawk migration makes up 70% of the birds counted. During the peak of Broad-winged Hawk migration on the day of or the day after a cold front, it is not unusual for more than 10,000 raptors to pass by the tower.

Learn more about the watch by visiting their blog:

http://smithpointhawkwatch.wordpress.com/

(via: Houston Audubon)

libutron
libutron:

Pied Falconet - Microhierax melanoleucos
Members of the genus Microhierax (Falconiformes - Falconidae) are the smallest of falcons. This species, Microhierax melanoleucos, grows up to 20 cm and has a maximum wingspan of 37 cm.
Some individuals of the Pied Falconet have a thin white line across the base of the cere, over the eyes and down to the breast giving the appearance of a white face with large black eye patches.
The Pied Falconet is found in the forests of Bangladesh, China, India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Viet Nam.
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©阿棋 (Kei) Looking@Nature | Locality: unknown (2011)

libutron:

Pied Falconet - Microhierax melanoleucos

Members of the genus Microhierax (Falconiformes - Falconidae) are the smallest of falcons. This species, Microhierax melanoleucos, grows up to 20 cm and has a maximum wingspan of 37 cm.

Some individuals of the Pied Falconet have a thin white line across the base of the cere, over the eyes and down to the breast giving the appearance of a white face with large black eye patches.

The Pied Falconet is found in the forests of Bangladesh, China, India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Viet Nam.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©阿棋 (Kei) Looking@Nature | Locality: unknown (2011)

ABC Bird of the Week:  Swainson’s Hawk
This handsome western buteo, which occurs in both light and dark morphs (color variations), was named for British naturalist William Swainson. Some of its folk names—“grasshopper hawk” or “locust hawk”—reflect this bird’s tastes in prey. 
Starting in late August, nearly the entire population of Swainson’s Hawks migrates south to Argentina and Brazil in huge “kettles” or flocks. Over 800,000 Swainson’s Hawks can pass by single hawk-watching sites in Veracruz, Mexico, in a single fall day.
The species’ migration is a round trip of more than 12,000 miles—the longest of any North American raptor.
In the 1990s, Swainson’s Hawks showed an alarming decline in the western U.S., which was traced to heavy mortality on their wintering grounds. An estimated 35,000 birds had died in Argentina in one season alone, carpeting the ground with dead birds in some places…
(read more: American Bird Conservatory)
photograph by Ian Maton

ABC Bird of the Week:  Swainson’s Hawk

This handsome western buteo, which occurs in both light and dark morphs (color variations), was named for British naturalist William Swainson. Some of its folk names—“grasshopper hawk” or “locust hawk”—reflect this bird’s tastes in prey.

Starting in late August, nearly the entire population of Swainson’s Hawks migrates south to Argentina and Brazil in huge “kettles” or flocks. Over 800,000 Swainson’s Hawks can pass by single hawk-watching sites in Veracruz, Mexico, in a single fall day.

The species’ migration is a round trip of more than 12,000 miles—the longest of any North American raptor.

In the 1990s, Swainson’s Hawks showed an alarming decline in the western U.S., which was traced to heavy mortality on their wintering grounds. An estimated 35,000 birds had died in Argentina in one season alone, carpeting the ground with dead birds in some places…

(read more: American Bird Conservatory)

photograph by Ian Maton

The white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is a large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, found in Europe and northern Asia. Measuring 66–94 cm (26–37 in) in length, the species 1.78–2.45 m (5.8–8.0 ft) wingspan is on average the largest of any eagle. Although they often scavenge, the eagles may also hunt prey such as fish, birds and mammals.
 Photograph by Yathin S Krishnappa
(via: Wikipedia)

The white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is a large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, found in Europe and northern Asia. Measuring 66–94 cm (26–37 in) in length, the species 1.78–2.45 m (5.8–8.0 ft) wingspan is on average the largest of any eagle. Although they often scavenge, the eagles may also hunt prey such as fish, birds and mammals.

Photograph by Yathin S Krishnappa

(via: Wikipedia)

libutron
libutron:

Crested Eagle - Morphnus guianensis 
With large size and slender form, the Crested Eagle, Morphnus guianensis (Accipitridae), is a South and Central American raptor that lives primarily in tropical and subtropical forest. 
These eagles reach up to 84 cm in length and wingspan up to 176 cm. The underparts are variable, there are dark morph and pale morphs.   
Crested Eagles take medium-sized birds, mammals such as monkeys and opossums, reptiles, and frogs. They still-hunt from a perch, and may forage by flying slowly above the canopy. 
This species is regarded as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. 
Other common names are Guianan Crested Eagle, Águila Crestada, Águila Monera, Arpía Menor.
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Thierry Montford | Locality: French Guiana (2009)

libutron:

Crested Eagle - Morphnus guianensis 

With large size and slender form, the Crested Eagle, Morphnus guianensis (Accipitridae), is a South and Central American raptor that lives primarily in tropical and subtropical forest. 

These eagles reach up to 84 cm in length and wingspan up to 176 cm. The underparts are variable, there are dark morph and pale morphs.   

Crested Eagles take medium-sized birds, mammals such as monkeys and opossums, reptiles, and frogs. They still-hunt from a perch, and may forage by flying slowly above the canopy. 

This species is regarded as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. 

Other common names are Guianan Crested Eagle, Águila Crestada, Águila Monera, Arpía Menor.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Thierry Montford | Locality: French Guiana (2009)

astronomy-to-zoology

astronomy-to-zoology:

Chimango Caracara (Milvago chimango)

…a species of Caracara (Polyborinae) which occurs in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Chimango caracaras typically inhabit subtropical and tropical dry shrubland, temperate grassland, Patagonian steppe, and heavily degraded former forests. Like other caracaras Milvago chimango is omnivorous and will feed on reptiles, amphibians, other small animals and carrion. 

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Falconiformes-Falconidae-Polyborinae-Milvago-M. chimango

Images: E. Schreurs and Cláudio Dias Timm

ABC Bird of the Week:  Snail Kite
The Snail Kite has one of the most specialized tools among raptors: a long, deeply curved beak designed to pull snails—the birds’ main food—out of their shells. This specialized diet restricts the Snail Kite to wetlands, so if that habitat is destroyed, the bird declines.
When hunting, Snail Kites fly low over marshlands, plunging down to snatch snails from just under the water or from vegetation. They then return to a favorite perch to feed. Although common in Latin America, the species is a federal and state endangered species in the United States.
Snail Kites are gregarious and may congregate in flocks at roost sites (as this recording from Brazil demonstrates) or while foraging for food. The birds also nest in colonies in low trees and bushes, usually over water. This species is markedly dimorphic: males are a dark blue-gray with striking red legs and females are streaked brown and white, with a white eyebrow line…
(read more: American Bird Conservancy)
 photograph by R.J. Wiley

ABC Bird of the Week:  Snail Kite

The Snail Kite has one of the most specialized tools among raptors: a long, deeply curved beak designed to pull snails—the birds’ main food—out of their shells. This specialized diet restricts the Snail Kite to wetlands, so if that habitat is destroyed, the bird declines.

When hunting, Snail Kites fly low over marshlands, plunging down to snatch snails from just under the water or from vegetation. They then return to a favorite perch to feed. Although common in Latin America, the species is a federal and state endangered species in the United States.

Snail Kites are gregarious and may congregate in flocks at roost sites (as this recording from Brazil demonstrates) or while foraging for food. The birds also nest in colonies in low trees and bushes, usually over water. This species is markedly dimorphic: males are a dark blue-gray with striking red legs and females are streaked brown and white, with a white eyebrow line…

(read more: American Bird Conservancy)

 photograph by R.J. Wiley