Average weight and size
17″ – 23″ in length
The Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) is a medium-sized hawk. Its breeding range spans eastern North America and along the coast of California and northern to northeastern-central Mexico. Males are 43 to 58 centimetres (17 to 23 in) long, weigh about 550 g (19 oz) (1.2 lbs) and have a wingspan of 96 cm (38 in). Females are slightly larger at 48 to 61 cm (19 to 24 in) in length, a weight of about 700 g (25 oz), and a wingspan of about 105 cm (41 in).
Adults have brownish heads, reddish chests, and pale bellies with reddish bars. Their tails, which are quite long by Buteo standards, are marked with narrow white bars. Red “shoulders” are visible when the birds are perched. These hawks’ upper parts are dark with pale spots and they have long yellow legs. Western birds may appear more red, while Florida birds are generally paler. The wings of adults are more heavily barred on the upper side. Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawks are most likely to be confused with juvenile Broad-winged Hawks, but can be distinguished by their long tails, crescent-like wing markings, and a more flapping, Accipiter-like flight style. This bird is often confused with the Red-tailed Hawk.
The markings and hue can vary greatly. The basic appearance of the Red-Tailed Hawk is consistent. The underbelly is lighter than the back and a dark brown band across the belly, formed by vertical streaks in feather patterning, is present in most color variations often with rufous(red) wash on upper breast. The red tail, which gives this species its name, is uniformly brick-red above. The bill or beak is short and dark, in the hooked shape characteristic of bird of prey.They have short, broad tails and thick, chunky wings. The cere (pronounced seer and is where you will find the birds nares or nostrils), the legs, and the feet of the Red-Tailed Hawk are all yellow.
Average weight and size
9.5″ – 12″ in length
3.1 oz. – 4 oz.
20″ – 23″ wingspan
The Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) is a small hawk. In fact, “sharp-shins” or “sharpies” (as they are sometimes casually called) are the smallest to reside in USA and Canada, though some Neotropical species are smaller (notably the aptly named Tiny Hawk). The taxonomy is far from resolved, with some authorities considering the southern taxa three separate species: White-breasted Hawk (A. chionogaster), Plain-breasted Hawk (A. ventralis) and Rufous-thighed Hawk (A. erythronemius). See taxonomy for further on this.
Average weight and size
13 – 18″ in length
9.4 oz. – 1.2 pounds
32 – 40″ wingspan
The Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) is a small hawk of the Buteo genus. During the summer they are distributed over most of eastern North America, to as far west as the Alberta province and Texas; they then migrate south to winter in the neotropics from Mexico down to Southern Brazil. Many of the subspecies in the Caribbean are endemic and most do not migrate.
Adult birds range in size from 34 to 45 cm (13 to 18 in), weigh from 265 to 560 g (9.4 oz to 1.2 lbs) and have a wingspan from 81 to 100 cm (32 to 40 in). As in most raptors, females are slightly larger than males. Adults have dark brown upper parts and evenly spaced black and white bands on the tail. Light morphs are pale on the underparts and underwing and have thick cinnamon bars across the belly. The light morph is most likely to be confused with the Red-shouldered Hawk, but that species has a longer, more heavily barred tail and the barred wings and solid rufous color of adult Red-shoulders are usually distinctive. Dark morphs are a darker brown on both upperparts and underparts. They are much less common than the light-coloured variant. Dark-morph Short-tailed Hawks are similar but are whitish under the tail with a single subterminal band. Broad-winged Hawks’ wings are relatively short and broad with a tapered, somewhat pointed appearance unique to this species.
Average weight and size
14 – 18″ in length
7.7 oz. – 14.5 oz.
25 – 36″ wingspan
The average size of an adult male ranges from 220 to 410 g (7.7-14.5 oz) with a length between 35 and 46 cm (14-18 in). The adult male is significantly smaller than the average female, which are 330 to 680 g (11.7-24 oz) and 42 to 50 cm (17-20 in) long. Wingspan ranges from 62 to 90 cm (25-36 in). Individuals living in the eastern regions tend to be larger and heavier than those in the western regions. All have short rounded wings and a very long tail with dark bands, round-ended at the tip. Adults have red eyes and have a black cap, with blue-gray upper parts and white underparts with fine, thin, reddish bars. Their tail is blue gray on top and pale underneath, barred with black bands. Immatures have yellow eyes and have a brown cap, with brown upper parts and pale underparts with thin black streaks mostly ending at the belly.
Their tail is brown on top and pale underneath, barred with dark bands. The eyes of this hawk, as in most predatory birds, face forward, enabling good depth perception for hunting and catching prey while flying at top speeds. They have hooked bills that are well adapted for tearing flesh of prey. Immatures are somewhat larger than a Sharp-shinned Hawk and smaller than a Northern Goshawk, though small males nearly overlap with large female Sharp-shinned Hawks, and large female Cooper’s Hawks nearly overlap with small male Goshawks. The Cooper’s Hawk appears long-necked in flight and has been described by birdwatchers as looking like a “flying cross”. The Cooper’s Hawk is seen mostly flying with quick, consecutive wing beats and a short glide, though they may also soar.
Average weight and size
18″ – 25″ in length
40″ – 65″ wingspan
Great Horned Owls range in length from 18-25 inches (46–68 cm) and have a wingspan of 40-60.5 in (101–153 cm); Females are larger than males, an average adult being 22 in (55 cm) long with a 49 in (124 cm) wingspan and weighing about 3.1 lbs (1400 g).
Adults have large ear tufts, a reddish, brown or gray face and a white patch on the throat. The iris is yellow, except the amber-eyed South American Great Horned Owl (B. V. nacurutu). Its “horns” are neither ears nor horns, simply tufts of feathers. The underparts are light with brown barring; the upper parts are mottled brown. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons. There are individual and regional variations in color; birds from the sub-Arctic are a washed-out, light-buff color, while those from Central America can be a dark chocolate brown.
Their call is a low-pitched but loud ho-ho-hoo hoo hoo; sometimes it is only four syllables instead of five. The female’s call is higher and rises in pitch at the end of the call. Young owls make hissing or screeching sounds that are often confused with the calls of Barn Owls.
The adult is 40–63 cm (16–25 in) long with a 96–125 cm (38–49 in) wingspan. Weight in this species is 500 to 1050 grams (1.1-2.3 lbs). It has a pale face with dark rings around the eyes, a yellow beak and brown eyes. It is the only typical owl of the eastern United States which has brown eyes; all others have yellow eyes. The head is round and lacks ear tufts, a distinction from the Short-eared Owl. The upper parts are mottled gray-brown. The underparts are light with markings; the chest is barred horizontally while the belly is streaked lengthwise. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons.
Adults range from 16 to 25 cm (6.3–10 in) in length and weigh 121-244 grams (4.3-8.6 oz). They have either rusty or dark gray intricately patterned plumage with streaking on the underparts. Mid-sized by screech-owl standards, these birds are stocky, short-tailed and broad-winged. They have a large round head with prominent ear tufts, yellow eyes and a yellowish bill. Rusty birds are more common in the southern parts of the range; pairings of the two color variants do occur. A pale gray variation also exists in western Canada and the north-central United States. The color variations are referred to as “red-phase” and “gray-phase” by bird watchers and ornithologists.
The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is the most widely distributed species of owl, and one of the most widespread of all birds. It is also referred to as Common Barn Owl, to distinguish it from other species in the barn-owl family Tytonidae. These form one of two main lineages of living owls, the other being the typical owls (Strigidae). T. alba is found almost anywhere in the world except polar and desert regions, Asia north of the Alpide belt, most of Indonesia, and the Pacific islands.
The short-eared owl is a medium-sized owl measuring 34–43 cm (13–17 in) in length and weighing 206–475 g (7.3–16.8 oz). It has large eyes, a big head, a short neck, and broad wings. Its bill is short, strong, hooked and black. Its plumage is mottled tawny to brown with a barred tail and wings. The upper breast is significantly streaked. Its flight is characteristically floppy due to its irregular wingbeats. The short-eared owl may also be described as “moth or bat-like” in flight. Wingspans range from 85 to 110 cm (33 to 43 in). Females are slightly larger than males. The yellow-orange eyes of A. flammeus are exaggerated by black rings encircling each eye, giving the appearance of them wearing mascara, and large, whitish disks of plumage surrounding the eyes like a mask.
The hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) or northern harrier (in the Americas) is a bird of prey. It breeds throughout the northern parts of the northern hemisphere in Canada and the northernmost USA, and in northern Eurasia. This species is polytypic, with two subspecies. Marsh hawk is a historical name for the American form.
It migrates to more southerly areas in winter. Eurasian birds move to southern Europe and southern temperate Asia, and American breeders to the southernmost USA, Mexico, and Central America. In the mildest regions, such as France, Great Britain, and the southern US, hen harriers may be present all year, but the higher ground is largely deserted in winter.
The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is a bird found throughout most of the Americas. It is also known in some North American regions as the Turkey Buzzard (or just Buzzard), and in some areas of the Caribbean as the John Crow or Carrion Crow. One of three species in the genus Cathartes, in the family Cathartidae, the Turkey Vulture is the most widespread of the New World vultures, ranging from southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America. It inhabits a variety of open and semi-open areas, including subtropical forests, shrublands, pastures, and deserts. A large bird, it has a wingspan of 170–183 cm (67–72 in), a length of 64–81 cm (25–32 in), and weight of 0.85–2.26 kg (1.9–5 lb). It has dark brown to black plumage; a featherless, purplish-red head and neck; and a short, hooked, ivory-colored beak. Its life expectancy in the wild ranges upward of 16 years, with a captive life span of over 30 years being possible.
The Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) also known as the American Black Vulture, is a bird in the New World vulture family whose range extends from the southeastern United States to Central Chile and Uruguay in South America. One was recently sighted and photographed in Raymond, Alberta, Canada on September 22 and 23, 2011. Although a common and widespread species, it has a somewhat more restricted distribution than its compatriot, the Turkey Vulture, which breeds well into Canada and south to Tierra del Fuego. Despite the similar name and appearance, this species is unrelated to the Eurasian Black Vulture. The latter species is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae (which includes eagles, hawks, kites and harriers), whereas the American species is a New World vulture. It is the only extant member of the genus Coragyps, which is in the family Cathartidae. It inhabits relatively open areas which provide scattered forests or shrublands. With a wingspan of 1.5 m (5 ft) the Black Vulture is a large bird though relatively small for a vulture. It has black plumage, a featherless, grayish-black head and neck, and a short, hooked beak.
The Merlin (Falco columbarius) is a small species of falcon from the Northern Hemisphere. A bird of prey once known colloquially as a pigeon hawk in North America, the Merlin breeds in the northern Holarctic; some migrate to subtropical and northern tropical regions in winter.
Some regard the North American and Eurasian (F. columbarius) populations as two distinct species. The first modern taxonomist to describe the Merlin was Carl Linnaeus, a Swede who reported his type specimen came from America. Thirteen years after Linnaeus’s description Marmaduke Tunstall recognized the Eurasian birds as a distinct taxon aesalon in his Ornithologica Britannica. If two species of Merlins are recognized, the Old World birds would thus bear the scientific name F. aesalon.
The name kestrel, (from French crécerelle, derivative from crécelle i.e. Ratchet) is given to several different members of the falcon genus, Falco. Kestrels are most easily distinguished by their typical hunting behaviour which is to hover at a height of around 10–20 metres (33–66 ft) over open country and swoop down on prey, usually small mammals, lizards or large insects. Other falcons are more adapted to active hunting on the wing. In addition, kestrels are notable for usually having much brown in their plumage.
Average weight and size
9.4″ – 13″ in length
5.3 oz. – 7.4 oz.
20 – 26″ wingspan
The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-gray back, barred white underparts, and a black head and “moustache”. Typical of bird-eating raptors, Peregrine Falcons are sexually dimorphic, with females being considerably larger than males. The Peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching over 325 km/h (202 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop, making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom.
The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a bird of prey found in North America. It is the national bird and symbol of the United States of America. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle. Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.
The adult Bald Eagle is mainly brown with a white head and tail. The sexes are identical in plumage, but females are larger than males. The beak is large and hooked. The plumage of the immature is brown. Bald Eagles are not actually bald, the name derives from the older meaning of the word, “white headed”.
33” – 38” in Length
6 – 15 lbs. in weight
6’ – 7.5’ wind span
Average life span in the wild:
Golden Eagles possess astonishing speed and maneuverability for their size. Diving from great heights, they have been clocked at close to 200 miles per hour.
This powerful eagle is North America’s largest bird of prey and the national bird of Mexico. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks.
Golden eagle pairs maintain territories that may be as large as 60 square miles (155 square kilometers). They are monogamous and may remain with their mate for several years or possibly for life. Golden eagles nest in high places including cliffs, trees, or human structures such as telephone poles. They build huge nests to which they may return for several breeding years. Females lay from one to four eggs, and both parents incubate them for 40 to 45 days. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months.
These majestic birds range from Mexico through much of western North America as far north as Alaska; they also appear in the east but are uncommon. Golden eagles are also found in Asia, northern Africa, and Europe.
The osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, or fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts.
The osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica, although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.