RAPTORS of North America

Raptors are carnivorous. They hunt by sight during the day, are long lived, and have low reproductive rates. The catch their prey via strong claws three pointing forward and one pointing backward. The raptors that hunt by day are: hawks, eagle, buzzards, harriers, kites, vultures, falcons, caracaras. Owls hunt by night. Raptors are also called birds of prey.



Hawks

Order Accipitriformes    Family Accipitridae

The order Accipitriformes contains the diurnal (active during the day) birds of prey: hawks, goshawks, eagles, kites, vultures, ospreys, secretary birds. These birds have sometimes been considered part of the Falconiformes which contains the falcons, but DNA evidence indicates the orders should be separate.

The Accipitridae family contains the hawks, goshawks, eagles, kites, Old World vultures. Subfamilies are often used to group related species, but the subfamiles for much of Accipitridae are in flux. They will be used here if there is agreement for their members.

This page contains species that are termed hawks or buzzards.


Genus Accipiter
The raptors of Accipiter are called hawks, goshawks, and sparrowhawks. These birds are slender with short broad rounded wings and a long tail which helps them maneuver in flight. They have long legs and long sharp talons used to kill their prey, and a sharp hooked bill used in feeding. Females tend to be larger than males. They often ambush their prey, mainly small birds and mammals, capturing it after a short chase. The typical flight pattern is a series of flaps followed by a short glide. They are commonly found in wooded or shrubby areas.

Goshawk, Northern also Goshawk  Accipiter gentilis  Found: North America, Europe, Asia
The Northern Goshawk has dark gray upperparts; white underparts with dark gray barring; white supercilium; gray tail with 3 dark bands.
Similar to: Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk. Northern Goshawk has distinct white eyebrow; the others do not.
Image by: 1)  Elaine R. Wilson - British Columbia  2) Steve Garvie - Scotland  3) Norbert Kenntner - Berlin  4)   Michael Ransburg
    5) Yasa  6)   Ferran Pestana - Spain  7) Guy Monty - British Columbia  8) Sergey Yeliseev- Moscow Region
1) Juvenile


Hawk, Cooper's Accipiter cooperii     Found: North America
The Cooper's Hawk has blue-gray upperparts; reddish underparts with thin white bars; white under-tail with dark bands.
Similar to: Northern Goshawk. Northern Goshawk has distinct white eyebrow; Cooper's Hawk does not.
Similar to: Sharp-shinned Hawk. Cooper's Hawk has rounded tail end; Sharp-shinned Hawks has rectangular tail end.
Image by:  1) Phil Brown  2) Alan D. Wilson - British Columbia  3) Mike Ormsby - Colorado   4) Don Madison - New Jersey  5) Janet and Phil - Illinois  6) Len Blumin - California   7) Ted Grussing - Arizona  8) Dick Daniels - Carolina Raptor Center   9) Dmitry Mozzherin 
1, 2, 3) Juvenile  




Hawk, Sharp-shinned Accipiter striatus   Found: The Americas
The Sharp-shinned Hawk has blue-gray upperparts; reddish underparts with thin white bars; white under-tail with dark bands.
Similar to: Cooper's Hawk. Cooper Hawk's has rounded tail end; Sharp-shinned Hawks has rectangular tail end.
Similar to: Northern Goshawk. Northern Goshawk has distinct white eyebrow; Sharp-shinned Hawk does not.
Similar to: Tiny Hawk. Sharp-shinned Hawk has yellow orbital skin; Tiny Hawk does not
Image by: 1) Louis Agassiz Fuertes, USFWS   2) Trisha Shears   3) Chuck Roberts - Colorado   4) Kelly Azar - Pennsylvania  5) Dario Sanches   6) Dick Daniels - New Hampshire  7) Mike Morel, USFWS - Puerto Rico
1) Cooper Hawk on left, Sharp-shinned on right  2) Juvenile




Genus Busarellus - 1 species

Hawk,_Black-collared  Busarellus nigricollis   Found: Mexico, Central America, South America
The Black-collared Hawk has mainl cinnamon-rufous plumage; paler breast; off-white head; blackish fore-neck and upper breast; black bill, bluish-tinged white legs.
Image by: 1, 3) Jerry Oldenettel  2) Thomas Junier



Genus Buteo  
Buteos are large raptors. They are known as buzzards in the Old World and hawks in the New World. The favorite prey are small mammals, but will also catch reptiles and ducks. They often soar on high and sprial down to seize their prey. They will also eat carrion if necessary.

Hawk, Broad-winged   Buteo platypterus   Found: The Americas
The Broad-winged Hawk has dark brown upperparts; white underparts with barring. Juvenile has (vertical) stripes instead of (horizontal) barring.
Similar to: Red-shouldered Hawk. Light morph Broad-winged Hawk similar. Red-shouldered Hawk has more distinctly barred tail. The closed wings of Red-shoulded Hawk are mottled; those of Broad-winged Hawk are solid in color.
Similar to: Short-tailed Hawk (dark morph). Dark morph Broad-winged Hawk similar. Tail of Short-tailed Hawk about same length as wing-tips; tail of Broad-winged Hawk longer than wing-tips. Adult Broad-winged hawk has barred tail; adult Short-tailed Hawk does not.
Similar to: Swainson's Hawk. Dark phases of Broad-winged Hawk and Swainson's Hawk are similar. Broad-winged Hawk has banded tail; Swainson's Hawk does not.
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels - Carolina Raptor Center  3) Joseph Marsden - Florida  4) Julie Waters - Vermont  5) Leppyone - Florida  6) Dick - Boquette, Panama
1, 2, 3) Juvenile



Hawk, Ferruginous Buteo regalis   Found: North America
The Ferringous Hawk is named after its rust colored (reddish-brown) upperparts. The flight feathers are white with black tips on the primaries. Legs are feathered to the feet. Dark morph has rusty underparts; light moprh has whitish underparts.
Similar to: Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk. Base of Ferruginous Hawk's bill has more yellow than other species.
Image by:   1) Maggie Smith - California  2) Pat Gaines   3) Bill Bouton - California  4) Dick Daniels - Flamingo Gardens - Florida  
5) Alan Vernon - California   6)  Joahu Barnett - Arizona  7) Charlie Westerinen - Arizona
1, 2) Dark Morph  3 - 6) Light morph  3) Juvenile 



Hawk, Gray   Buteo plagiatus  Found: southwest USA to Costa Rica
The Gray Hawk has mainly light gray plumage; barred underparts; black tail with 3 white bands; orange legs.
Similar to: Gray-lined Hawk. The Gray Hawk has neglible barring on the upperparts; Gray-lined Hawk has barred upperparts and lowerparts. There is little overlap of the two species.
Image by: 1) Khyri - Arizona   2) John & Anne Chullod - Arizona    3) Pete Gregoire - Arizona  4) The Lilac Breasted Roller


Hawk, Red-shouldered Buteo lineatus   Found: North America
The Red-shouldered Hawk has a brown head; reddish shoulders, breast; pale belly with reddish bars; white barred tail; yellow tail.
Similar to: Broad-winged Hawk (light morph). Red-shouldered Hawk has more distinctly barred tail. The closed wings of Red-shoulded Hawk are mottled; those of Broad-winged Hawk are solid in color.
Similar to: Red-tailed Hawk. Red-shouldered Hawk has orangish underparts; Red-tailed Hawk has brown underparts.
Image by:  1, 6) Dick Daniels - Florida  2, 3) Dick Daniels - North Carolina  4, 5) Dick - Carolina Raptor Center   7) Mike Baird  8) Charlie Westerinen - Colusa, California  9) Chuck Abbe
1) Juvenile




Hawk, Red-tailed Buteo jamaicensis   Found: North America
The Red-tailed Hawk has many subspecies of varying shades. It has a red upper-tail; buff-orange under-tai; whitish underparts with darker lower-breast. It is heavier than most buteo of similar length, resulting in a chunky appearance.
Similar to: Ferruginous Hawk. Base of Ferruginous Hawk's bill has more yellow than Red-tailed Hawk. Light morph Ferruginus Hawk has rusty brown wings and back; Red-tailed Hawk lacks the reddish tinge.
Similar to: Red-shouldered Hawk. Red-shouldered Hawk has orangish underparts; Red-tailed Hawk has brown underparts.
Similar to: Rough-legged Hawk. Rough-legged Hawk has white at base of tail, Red-tailed Hawk does not. Red-tailed Hawk has broader, shorter wings.
Image by:   1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7) Dick Daniels - Carolina Raptor Center    4) Dick - North Carolina   8) Ted Grussing   9) Dave Fletcher - New York  10) Dan Langer




Hawk, Rough-legged  also  Rough-legged Buzzsard  Buteo lagopus   Found: North America, Europe, Asia
The Rough-legged Hawk has legs feathered to the feet; mainly brown plumage with white speckling; long white tail feathers with one or more dark terminal bands; wing tips may be longer than tail when perched.
Similar to: Common Buzzard. Common Buzzard has broader, shorter wings.
Similar to: Ferruginous Hawk. Base of Ferruginous Hawk's bill has more yellow than Rourh-legged Hawk. Light morph Ferruginus Hawk has rusty brown wings and back; Rough-legged Hawk lacks the reddish tinge.
Similar to: Long-legged Buzzard. The Long-legged Buzzard is larger and more robust than the Rough-legged Buzzard. Rough-legged Buzzard legs are feathered to the feet.
Similar to: Red-tailed Hawk. Rough-legged Hawk has white at base of tail, Red-tailed Hawk does not. Red-tailed Hawk has broader, shorter wings.
Image by :  1) Bill Majoros   2,  3, 4) Dick Daniels - Carolina Raptor Center   5) Walter Siegmund - Washington    6) Alan D Wilson  7) Terrie Schweitzer - Oregon  8) Seabamirum - New York 
1 - 6) Light morph  7, 8) Dark morph


Hawk, Short-tailed  Buteo brachyurus   Found: North America (Southern Florida), South America
The Short-tailed Hawk has a light and dark phase. The light phase has dark brown upperparts; white underparts; gray tail barred with black. The dark phase has black-brown upperparts, underparts; gray tail barred with black.
Similar to: Broad-winged Hawk (dark morph). Tail of Short-tailed Hawk about same length as wing-tips; tail of Broad-winged Hawk longer than wing-tips. Adult Broad-winged hawk has barred tail; adult Short-tailed Hawk does not.
Image by: 1) Amendezg - Mexico  2, 3) Amy Evenstad 4) Josh Henderson
1) Juvenile male, dark morph  2, 3) Dark morph  4) Light morph


Hawk, Swainson's Buteo swainsoni  Found: west North America, west South America
The Swainson's has 3 morphs. The light form has brown upperparts; white underparts with a reddish bib; white throat; white under-wings with a dark trailing edge; gray-brown tail with 6 dark bands and a wider white terminal bank. The intermediate form has rufous underparts. The dark form has dark brown plumage with a light patch under the tail.
Similar to: Broad-winged Hawk. Dark phases of Broad-winged Hawk and Swainson's Hawk are similar. Broad-winged Hawk has banded tail; Swainson's Hawk does not.
Similar to: White-tailed Hawk. Light phase Swainson's Hawk and White-tailed Hawk have a white belly, but only the Whte-tailed Hawk has a white tail.
Image by: 1) Larry Ridenhour, BLM  2) Dick Daniels - Wyoming   3) J N Stuart - New Mexico  4) Pharaoh Hound - Colorado   5) Mark Watson - New Mexico     6) Maggie Smith - California  7) Charlie Westerinen - Baker City, Oregon  8) Ann Kiszt 
    9) Dominic Sherony  10) Alan Vernon
1) Light juvenile  2) Intermediate juvenile  3, 4, 5) Light  6, 7, 8) Intermediate  9, 10 Dark morph




Hawk, Zone-tailed  Buteo albonotatus  Found: southwest North America, South America
The Zone-tailed Hawk has mainly black plumage; black and silver-gray flight feathers; black tail with 3 or 4 white bands (gray from above) .
Similar to : Common Black Hawk. Zone-tailed Hawk has more white under its wings and more white bars on tail.
Similar to : Harris's Hawk. Harris's Hawk has chestnut on shoulders, Zone Tailed Hawk does not.
Image by: 1) Mark Watson - Colorado  2) SearchNet Media - Arizona  3) Dominic Sherony



Genus Buteogallus
Buteogallus like crabs and other large crustaceans and thus are sometimes called crab-hawks.
The Crowned Solitary Eagle and Black Solitary Eagle are also currently placed in Buteogallus. They tend to eat reptiles and are shown elsewhere.

Hawk, Common Black- Buteogallus anthracinus Found: North America, South America
The Common Black-Hawk has mainly black or dark gray plumage; short black tail with white band and white terminal strip; black tipped bill; yellow legs, cere.
Similar to: Great Black-Hawk. Great Black-Hawk is larger than Common Black-Hawk and has a white tail base. Great Black-Hawk usually has white showing on upper-tail while perched; Common Black-Hawk usually has no white showing on upper-taile while perched.
Similar to : Harris's Hawk. Harris's Hawk has chestnut on shoulders, Common Black Hawk does not.
Similar to : Zone-tailed Hawk. Zone-tailed Hawk has more white under its wings and more white bars on tail.
Similar to: Black Solitary Eagle. The Black Solitary Eagle is much larger and has broader wings than the Common Black Hawk.
Image by: 1) barloventomagico - Venezuela  2) Victor Burolla   3) Jerry Oldenettel - Venezuela 4) Ted Grussing 
1) Juvenile 


Hawk, Great Black-  Buteogallus urubitinga  Found: Mexico to South America
The Great Black-Hawk has mainly black or dark gray plumage; short black tail with white base, band and white terminal strip; black tipped bill; yellow legs, cere.
Similar to: Common Black-Hawk. Great Black-Hawk is larger than Common Black-Hawk and has a white tail base. Great Black-Hawk usually has white showing on upper-tail while perched; Common Black-Hawk usually has no white showing on upper-taile while perched.
Image by:  1)  Andrea Grosse   2) Barloventomagico - Venezuela   3) Ron Knight - Mexico



Genus Circus
Harriers characteristically hunt by flying low over open ground such as grassland or marshes, feeding on small mammals, reptiles, or birds. The name Circus refers to the circling movements female and male make when courting. Males and females have distinct plumage.

Harrier, Northern  also Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus Found: The Americas, Europe, Asia
The male Northern Harrier has gray upperparts, upper-breast; whitish lower-breast, belly; white rump; gray wings with black tips. Female has brown upperparts; buff underparts streaked with brown.
Similar to: Montagu's Harrier. Northern Harrier has barring on wing-tips; Montagu's Harrier does not.
Image by: 1, 5) Len Blumin - California 2) Alan D. Wilson - state of Washington  3) Dick Daniels - North Carolina   4) Dan Pancamo - Texas  6) juvethski  7) Alan D. Wilson - British Columbia 
1 - 4) Female  5, 6, 7) Male     



Genus Geranoaetus
These hawks are sometimes included in genus Buteo.

Hawk, White-tailed  Geranoaetus albicaudatuFound: south Texas to South America
The White-tailed Hawk has gray upperparts; white underparts; white tail with black band near the end.
Similar to: Swainson's Hawk. Light phase Swainson's Hawk and White-tailed Hawk have a white belly, but only the Whte-tailed Hawk has a white tail.
Image by: 1) Cláudio Dias Timm - Brazil  2) Alan and Elaine Wilson - Texas   3) sfitzgerald86 - Texas  4) Jorge Montejo 
1) Juvenile



Genus Parabuteo

Hawk, Harris's   Parabuteo unicinctus   Found: southwest USA to South America
The Harris's Hawk has mainly brown plumage; chestnut shoulders; white on base and tip of tail; yellow legs, cere.
Similar to : Common Black Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk. Harris's Hawk has chestnut on shoulders, others do not.
Image by: 1, 5)  Alan D Wilson  - Texas  2) Dick - San Diego Zoo  3, 4) Dick Daniels - Carolina Raptor Center     6, 7) Dick - Center for Birds of Prey, Charleston, South Carolina   8) Mark Watson - New Mexico
2) Western Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus harrisi
1) Juvenile  



Genus Pseudastur

Hawk, White  Pseudastur albicollis  Found: southern Mexico to South America
The White Hawk has white body, head, under-wings; black upper-wings; white tail with black band; black wing tips.
Image by: 1, 2) Dominic Sherony  3) Francesco Veronesi - Panama  4) Amy McAndrews - Mexico





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