Birds of Prey
"National Geographic" Moment
in the back yard reading one afternoon my husband and I
heard a big ruckus overhead. We looked up to see a red
tailed hawk trying to grab a Blue Jay mid air. Moments
later, the hawk got hold of him and they both tumbled to
the ground about 6 feet from where we were sitting. Like I
said... another National Geographic Moment!
Predators don't all come on four legs.
Overhead you have
a variety of birds that are also predators. Obviously you are not a
target for predatory birds, but kittens, small puppies, baby ducks or
chickens, and other small pets can be. These birds are easily strong
enough to pick up any small creature, and they will if you leave them
Birds by Species menu
Red Tail Hawk
The Red-tail is the
largest hawk, usually weighing between 2 and 4 pounds. As with
most raptors, the female is nearly 1/3 larger than the male and
may have a wing span of 56 inches. This species shows a great deal
of individual variation in plumage.
adult has a rufous-colored tail that may or may not have a black
terminal bar. Adults are dark brown on the back and the top of
their wings. The underside of the bird is usually light with a
dark belly band, and a cinnamon wash on the neck and chest. .
Immatures resemble the adults except their tail is brown with dark
bars; the red- tail molts in during its second year.
The adult Red-tailed Hawk is easily identified, for when it leaves
its perch on slow, measured wing beats, or turns while soaring
overhead, the broad, rounded tail shows a rich, russet red, hence
the name. Within its range, its frequent soaring and loud voice
are a good pointer.
small or young pet must be protected day and night from predatory birds.
Eagles & hawks will typically hunt by day, but owls are night
hunters who join in with other four legged predators looking for
anything small, and the easier the better!
dense area in the upper portion of the image to the right
of the tree is a red tail hawk nest. The dense area on the
other side is just mistletoe, but it does a good job of camouflaging
They don't know the
difference between your pet ducks or little chicks and the wild ducks
and birds they normally feed on. They will pick one up
and be gone in seconds.
The three predatory birds shown here are very common in California. You may
have others where you live, or different varieties of these predatory
birds in your area that look a little bit different. It's a good idea to
either get a bird book for your area, or check with your local wildlife
agency to find out more about the predatory birds and animals in your
Keep me wild!
of Fish & Game "Biodiversity Atlas"
Northern Harrier (Marsh) Hawk
Northern Harrier Hawk, also known as the Marsh Hawk, is my
favorite hawk species. Harriers get their name from their hunting
method of flying low over the surface of fields in measured
patterns. They will pounce upon rodents, frogs, lizards, and
snakes. Small birds which make the mistake of flying at a
Harrier's approach will be taken by the hawk flipping upside down
in flight and impaling the bird's soft belly.
are among our larger native species. They have long wings and
tail. A large white rump and white ring around their faces are
identifying features which can be easily observed in flight. Males
are gray above and females are brown above. Breeding occurs in the more
northern states and Canada.
Northern Harrier Hawks nest on the
ground in grass and shrubby vegetation. There are usually 4 to 7
The young leave the nest at 42 days
California Fish & Game -- Specific Pages of
Mammals by Species
Birds by Species
All photos on this site are copyrighted.
Many are available to purchase, however, at www.19thCentury.us