One of our most widespread raptor species, the Red-tailed Hawk is also easily the most variable. Color morphs range from very pale with predominantly white bellies, to very dark all over. The red tail of the adult is the one constant across all morphs. Well, almost all - the dark Alaska-breeding Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk has a gray tail (and is sometimes considered a separate species). Immature birds lack the red tail, and have pale eyes that gradually darken as they age, becoming a rich brown (as in this bird) when fully mature at 3-4 years old.
Individuals may live to be 20 years old or more. The Red-tail is the hawk most people are most familiar with, because its preference for edge habitats, such as roadsides, makes it conspicuous and frequently seen. They are extremely adaptable, occurring in nearly all of North America’s habitats except tundra. The bird in this photo may have been “mantling” - drooping its wings to protect a prey item from being stolen by competition, a common behavior among this and other raptors.
photo by Gregory “Greg” Smith (slobirdr) on Flickr
Endangered European Animals Make ‘Refreshing’ Comeback
by Jessica Aldred
Beaver, bison and eagles are among the species that have made a successful comeback in Europe in the past 50 years, according to a major survey published by a coalition of conservation groups on Thursday.
The report selected 37 species that have showed signs of recovery, studied changes in their numbers and range since 1960, and examined the reasons driving their comeback.
Of the species that live or have been reintroduced to the UK, three species of geese, the common crane, red kite, white-tailed eagle, seal, deer, wild boar and beaver all showed signs of recovery.
But the report, Wildlife Comeback in Europe, which features contributions from the Zoological Society of London, BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council and was commissioned by Rewilding Europe, cautioned that despite these success stories, biodiversity is still being lost around the world…
The graceful, strikingly marked Swallow-tailed Kite rarely flaps its wings while flying, but almost continuously moves its tail—sometimes to nearly 90 degrees—to maintain a flight path, make a sharp turn, or circle. The species’ northern populations are migratory and come together with the non-migratory, southern populations in the wintertime.
In North America, this species once occurred up the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, along the Missouri River, and north along the Mississippi River into Kansas and Missouri. These northern populations were extirpated when the bottomland and riparian forests along these rivers were cut in the 1800s and early 1900s.
The Swallow-tailed Kite’s main prey items are flying insects such as dragonflies and cicadas, which are captured and eaten on the wing; these aerial acrobats also snag insects and lizards as they skim across the treetops…
A newly published book gives a compelling glimpse into the vibrant and fascinating life of birds. ‘The Handbook of Bird Photography’ provides an intimate insight into the secret world of bird behaviour and the colourful lives of these creatures…
These two bald eagles fight over a fish in mid-flight as they both attempt to wrap their huge talons around the same prey. The pair of bald eagles tussled in mid-air, with neither of them giving any indication of relenting.
Sometimes, I even amaze myself ;) This is a Chimango Caracara (Milvago chimango), likely a male. Like the other species of caracara, this is a species of falcon that is comfortable on the ground, as it feeds on carrion (and a variety of small prey).
Hen harrier on the brink of ‘extinction’ in England - For the first time since the 1960s, hen harriers have failed to nest successfully in England.
August 2013. Just two pairs of hen harriers attempted to nest in England this year, but both failed. At one of these sites the RSPB was working with the landowner to ensure the nest was protected. Sadly, the eggs never hatched. While, conservationists believe this nest failed naturally, the Government’s own wildlife advisors say that the population had been forced into this precarious position by illegal killing. The reason for the failure of the second nest isn’t yet known…
The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) hunt in a range of ways; they may soar and search for prey from on high, or sit in a tree on the look-out. They have also been seen flying low and then ambushing their prey.
Add the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey NCA to your Summer Bucket List for its unique wildlife and supporting habitat.
Congress established the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area in 1993 to protect a unique environment that supports one of the world’s most dense concentrations of nesting birds of prey. Falcons, eagles, hawks and owls are found here in unique profusion and variety. It is part of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 officially added the name of conservationist Morley Nelson to the NCA, in honor of Nelson’s work on behalf of birds of prey and their habitats.
The BLM manages the area to preserve its remarkable wildlife habitat while providing for other compatible uses of the land, so that birds of prey flourish here as they have for thousands of years. The area’s 485,000 acres host some 800 pairs of hawks, owls, eagles and falcons that come each spring to mate and raise young. The birds are not on display, and for the most part are wary of humans, usually keeping their distance. The best times to look for raptors are mornings or early evenings in mid-March through June.
Kestrel Nestlings in Oregon Have Startling Eating Habits
By Geoffrey Giller
The Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society recently posted a series of photographs showing some adorable kestrel nestlings in Oregon with remarkable appetites (click link for an explanation of how these young birds are capable of eating such big meals).
Not only are they cute, but they’re demonstrating a remarkable eating habit. Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society’s Chuck Almdale posted this description of the photographs…