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raptor

Ospreys Head South

Ospreys may log more than 160,000 air miles over a lifetime. One female Osprey in Massachusetts, which researchers tagged in 2008 and named Penelope, headed south in early September, later reaching the Bahamas. After pausing in the Dominican Republic, she traveled to the Island of Birds, off... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Swallow-tailed Kite

There's a bird of prey in the American Southeast that takes grace to an utterly new level: the Swallow-tailed Kite. A sleek raptor with a white head, slender black wings, and a long, deeply forked black tail, the Swallow-tailed Kite almost never flaps its wings. The bird makes sudden tight turns,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Northern Goshawks and Fire

Among the great firs and Ponderosa pines of Stanislaus National Forest in central California, Northern Goshawk nestlings crowd a platform nest of branches and pine needles halfway up a mature fir tree. In 2013, what’s known as the Rim Fire occurred, and some of the area burned with high intensity... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

Urban Cooper's Hawks

Next time you’re in the city, look up. When pigeons are wheeling, you might just see a different bird in pursuit. The Cooper’s Hawk, once known as the “chicken hawk,” used to be in steep decline due to hunting and the effects of DDT on breeding. Today, it’s the most abundant of the bird-eating... read more »

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Zone-tailed Hawks Mimic Vultures

Zone-tailed Hawks of the American Southwest look a lot like Turkey Vultures. And they often soar among groups of Turkey Vultures. By consorting with vultures, Zone-tailed Hawks gain a distinct advantage as predators. While doves and lizards would quickly flee the flight silhouette of a Red-tailed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Northern Hawk Owl

The Northern Hawk Owl is one of the least studied and least known of all birds in North America. Northern Hawk Owls are owls, but they share several traits with hawks and falcons: A streamlined body shape, daytime hunting habits, and stiff wing feathers for daytime hunting. (Owls that hunt at... read more »

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Mississippi Kites

The Mississippi Kite is one of America's most elegant raptors. These dove-gray birds spend the summer hunting over plains and woodlands in the southern United States. They often nest colonially — unusual for hawks — with a half-dozen pairs in sight of one another in a grove of tall trees. By... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting

The Peregrine Falcons of Rome

Falconer Steve Layman has worked closely with raptors for most of his life. And he has a theory that runs counter to what many scientists believe: he says not all predators hunt the weak and diseased. In Rome, for example, Steve observed Peregrine Falcons preying on fit, healthy, and nutritious... read more »

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Highways as Habitat for Hawks

In 1956, the Eisenhower Administration announced plans for the nation’s new interstate highway system. Planners foresaw 41,000 miles of superior highways, with a grassy border on either side and down the middle. The grassy areas created ribbons of wildlife habitat occupied by small mammals such... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, human interaction

Three Worldwide Raptors

Consider three species of raptors: the Barn Owl, Peregrine Falcon, and Osprey. They’re on every continent except Antarctica. Each has a specialized hunting prowess distinct from the other. They can fly great distances. And like many birds of prey, they mate for life. The Barn Owl, pictured here,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

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