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Bird of prey Identification
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MiLisCer



Joined: 09 Feb 2008
Posts: 73


Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:12 am    Post subject: Bird of prey Identification  Reply with quote

Not sure where Bodger wanted this putting, so I have put it in here. I am Also not sure how much use it will, but Ill see what I can do?! I am just going to cover Hawks and Falcons for now, I will leave owls out as there are quite a few and they are far harder to identify, unless you know at least some of them! I am also only going to cover the more common ones, there are other raptors in the UK, but these are few and far between. Ill start with the hawks, there are two main ones in the UK, the Sparrow Hawk and the Buzzard (Although the Buzzard is not a true hawk, its a Buteo) they fall in to that category for identification.

The buzzard is easily identified by its size and shape, it is a large brown bird with cream underparts, its wings are short and wide with "fingers" on the ends, its tail is also short and wide. They can often be seen sat on telegraph poles or fence posts or soaring high in the sky in groups sometimes numbering up to a dozen. They are primarily a carrion feeder, as their feet size is extremely small in comparison to their body, making them not very good at hunting. They are often found on freshly ploughed fields eating worms and beetles.

Common Buzzard

The sparrowhawk on the other hand is a very small agile bird and a very effective hunter, you are most likely to see one of these flash across your garden and take a dove or pigeon, or if you are lucky you will get to follow one down a country lane, where it will fly low to the ground and with minimum effort easily keep ahead of you at about 40 mph!  Like all hawks they have broad rounded wings with “fingers” at the end, although not as prominent and visible as on a buzzard.  The female is about 1/3rd larger than the male and she weighs in at about 12-15ozs so smaller than a woodpigeon.  The female is a grey/brown colour with a well barred chest, the under side of her tail is grey, with black bars across it.  The male has a red tinge to his under parts and a more blue grey back and head.



Female perched, male in flight and then a female in flight.

The Sparrowhawk almost exclusively feed on birds caught on the wing, the female is more than capable of taking quarry up to the size of a woodpigeon, although they tend to take smaller prey routinely.



The falcons in flight can be identified by their long pointed wings, slender bodies and a medium length tail (this gives them greater manoeuvrability)  Apart from the Kestrel all the other UK falcons feed exclusively on feathered quarry)

Starting with the Kestrel (The most common UK falcon) these are commonly seen “hovering” alongside the motorway or over the fields, their tails fanned wide and their long pointy wings angled back to maintain their position.  Like all birds of prey they are Dimorphic in size, that is the female of the species is always 1/3rd larger than the male, again in the Kestrel the females weight range is between 7-9oz with the male being about 5-6oz in size, they are a long slender bird but it is nearly all feathers!  They can see “Ultra violet” which allows them to follow the urine trail left by their prey – so when you see them hovering and moving slightly, that is what they are doing, so the ability to see Ultra Violet and their extremely sharp vision allows them to see prey as small as mice and shrews from a great height!

The male is easily distinguished from the female, even in flight by his slate grey tail with a black band at the bottom – where as the female has a dull reddish brown tail with black bars.



Male on the left - female on the right



In some areas of the Uk, especially near to the cost, some of you might be lucky enough to see wild peregrines, usually again as they either hit their prey or take a position on a rock face/building to either “turn over their crop” (Digest what they have eaten) or just sit and watch for “dinner”
Like the Kestrel the peregrine has long slender pointed wings, and a medium length tail, they have light coloured under parts with a beautiful deep slate grey back and almost black on the head, with the characteristic black “moustache”



Female peregrine (Known as a peregrine falcon - male is a peregrine Tiercel)

Red Kites are distinctive because of their forked tail and striking colour - predominantly chestnut red with white patches under the wings and a pale grey head.
They have a wingspan of nearly two metres (about five-and-a-half-feet), but a relatively small body weight of 2 - 3 Ibs.
This means the bird is incredibly agile, and can stay in the air for many hours with hardly a beat of its wings.

Red Kites are neither particularly strong nor aggressive despite being large birds.
Primarily a scavenger and an opportunist; it profits from sheep carrion but is not capable of opening up sheep or lamb carcasses by itself and has to wait until more powerful birds such as ravens or buzzards have made the first inroads before it will attempt to feed.
Red Kites are however predators and take a wide variety of live prey, ranging from earthworms to small mammals, amphibians and birds



Red Kite
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green man



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

goodpost.gif Fantastic effort very professional and much appreciated.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

goodpost.gif thanks for that  
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bodger



Joined: 10 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats exactly what I wanted,   being cheeky I know, but any chance of the merlin and the hobby ? We have some dinky little birds of prey around here.
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Porffor



Joined: 27 Dec 2008
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Location: SW Wales

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great! lovely to read up again.. I was err ever so slightly younger when I learnt about birds of prey.    
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MiLisCer



Joined: 09 Feb 2008
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Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just for Bodger:

Merlin: The UK's smallest bird of prey, this compact, dashing falcon has a relatively long, square-cut tail and rather broad-based pointed wings, shorter than those of other falcons. Its wingbeat tends to be rapid with occasional glides, wings held close to the body. Its small size enables it to hover and hang in the breeze as it pursues its prey.



Merlin in flight (Male)

Hobby:About the size of a kestrel with long pointed wings, reminiscent of a giant swift. It has a dashing flight and will chase large insects and small birds like swallows and martins. Prey is often caught in its talons and transferred to its beak in flight. Can accelerate rapidly in flight and is capable of high-speed aerial manoeuvres.



Hobby in flight.
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bodger



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are we likely to have the hobby here on the Lleyn ? I'm nearly sure that I've seen something that fits the bill. We've definately got Marsh Harriers by the way.
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MiLisCer



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not very, there is a very small summer visitor population in South Wales, but you should have Merlin's resident with you.

But you never know, there have been some seen in Cheshire in recent years.

Mike
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alpha



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

what a fantastic post  

I saw a red kite over the Sandbach bypass 18 months ago but even after going back countless times I never saw it again unfortunately.
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MiLisCer



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Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alpha wrote:
what a fantastic post  

I saw a red kite over the Sandbach bypass 18 months ago but even after going back countless times I never saw it again unfortunately.



It is highly likely to have been a falconry bird   there are a few flying them in displays now and they are great flyers, getting great height quickly.

Mike
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oaktree



Joined: 22 Jun 2008
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Location: Staffordshire

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see a red kite on the field over the road. It took me weeks to realise what it was and I was stunned when I did realise. I see it a couple of times a week!

We are not supposed to have them here in Staffs but we do over the road!

Beautiful bird.
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LynneA



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Location: Close to the edge - of London and the woods.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We get Sparrowhawks and Kestrels here.  More Sparrowhawks nearby, in the oak woods, and more Kestrels near open farmland near the M25.

We often spot the Sparrowhawks circling high above the allotment and woods - often alerted as to their prescence by a sudden silence.  Sometimes a Black Backed Gull or two will mob them, pushing them higher and higher.

Last Christmas, we were sitting on a makeshift bench under the oak tree on our allotment, when a Sparrowhawk swooped down to catch a Blackbird.  It swooped so low and fast that I felt my hair ruffle as it passed.  The Blackbird got away into the bramble jungle beyond our plot and the hawk took off, but not before a Magpie arrived to see if there was anything to scavenge.

A couple of summers back, we were driving back from Ardingly, and with time to waste and no desire to hit the M25 too soon, we happened up a reservoir, with several twitcher types pitched up in the car park.  We stopped for a while and asked what there was to see.  Aside of assorted wildfowl & Grebe, a pair of Hobbys were reported to have nested nearby, and I was lucky enough to see one hunting over the water.  It wasn't a close up view, and I can't honstly say that I'd recognise their flight pattern straight off, but I felt able to tick them off my list.
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oldspot



Joined: 08 Nov 2008
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Location: wester ross

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool post. We have Golden and sea eagles too - any pics to make others green with envy!!

oldspot in wester ross.
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chickenstu



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there was a female Goshawk on the drive when I came home last night- like a sparrow hawk on steroids, bit smaller than a buzzard, making  a hearty meal out of a female pheasant. Watched it for a few minutes.
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agapanthus



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PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We saw our first white tailed eagle the other day......it was a stunning sight to see!!!!


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