Vultures, Hawks & Eagles

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk (Photo: USFWS)

Look For Compared to other buteos, such as the red-tailed hawk, the Swainson’s hawk has a thinner body and longer, more tapered wings in flight. The white inner linings on the wings (in flight) are a key field mark, as is the dark brown bib above a white breast. Swainson’s hawks come in light and… See details »

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk (Photo by Alan Vernon/Wikimedia)

Look for Red-tailed hawks occur across the continent in quite a variety of plumage colorations. In the East, however, count on a few easy field marks to help identify adult birds: the reddish-orange tail, a dark-streaked belly band, and a white chest. This hat trick of field marks can easily be seen in many soaring… See details »

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk (Photo by Majoros/Wikimedia)

Look for Robin-orange shoulder patches and breast barring are hallmarks of the adult red-shouldered hawk. Although chunky, the red-shouldered is slimmer than the red-tailed hawk, and its tail is comparatively longer and barred in black and white. In flight, especially while soaring or gliding, light or clear crescents can be seen at the base of… See details »


Osprey with goldfish. Photo by Dale Southern.

Look for Chocolate-brown above and pure white below, the osprey is armed with long, pale green legs and grappling-hook talons for seizing fish. Fierce yellow eyes are ringed in black, making the bird look as though it is wearing aviator’s goggles. A banded gray tail and ragged crest complete this gangly bird’s unusual look. Females… See details »

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's hawk

Look for Care must be taken to differentiate the Cooper’s hawk from the similar sharp-shinned hawk. Adults of both species have similar markings, as do their brown-backed immatures and that of the northern goshawk (larger birds rarely seen south of Virginia, Indiana, and Missouri). Size is often not a trustworthy identification tool in the field—proportions… See details »

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle (Photo by Kyle Carlsen)

Look for There is no confusing the adult bald eagle, with its huge size and gleaming white head and tail. Adult plumage is not attained until after the third year. Until then, immature birds are dark brown with varying degrees of white mottling on their backs, wings, bellies, and, in older birds, heads. Depending upon… See details »

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