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raptor

City Owls

Some owls, like Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls, live in the city. As hunters, they find a lot to eat in the city — like rats or squirrels! Both favor urban parks, cemeteries, and botanical gardens — places with big trees — and both roost during the day. The Great Horned Owl, like this one,... read more »

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Here Come the Merlins

Smaller than a pigeon — but fierce enough to knock one from the air — are the powerful, compact falcons known as Merlins. Climate change is pushing ranges of many birds farther north, but more and more Merlins have been nesting farther south, in towns and cities across the northern United States.... read more »

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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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