California birds of prey | 13 Special Species

California – birds of prey

California-birds-of-prey-13-Special-Species
California-birds-of-prey-13-Special-Species


Birds of prey, commonly known as raptors, are hypercarnivorous birds that hunt and eat other vertebrates (mainly mammals, reptiles and other smaller birds).

These predators have great eyesight for spotting prey from afar or during flight, strong feet with sharp talons for gripping or killing prey, and powerful, curved beaks for tearing flesh. 

Many predatory birds, such as fish eagles, vultures, and condors, scavenge and eat carrion in addition to hunting live prey.

California Condor

California Condor - california birds of prey
California Condor – california birds of prey

The California Condor is a bird of prey that lives in the mountains of the American West. It is one of the largest flying land birds in North America.

The condor was hunted to near extinction by humans, but has recovered and been taken off the endangered species list.


The California Condor is a large, dark-colored bird with a wingspan up to 9 feet (2.75 meters). Females are larger than males and have a more prominent head and neck.

Adults weigh from 9 to 14 pounds (4-6 kilograms) and have a wingspan from 9 to 10 feet (3-3 meters). 

The plumage on its head is black with white on its

  • throat
  • neck
  • chest
  • belly
  • tail tip

it has black flight feathers with white patches on their unders


Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon california birds of prey
Peregrine Falcon california birds of prey


The peregrine falcon belongs to the Falco genus of birds of prey. It soars at high altitude using its wings in a shallow “V” form, making it one of the quickest birds living.


The peregrine falcon can be found all across the world, but due of widespread habitat damage, it is becoming increasingly scarce.

However, in other parts of its old range, like as North America, it has been successfully reintroduced.


Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk california birds of prey
Swainson’s Hawk california birds of prey


The Swainson’s Hawk is a medium-sized hawk that breeds in open country across the southern United States and northern Mexico.

It is mainly a permanent resident, but some hawks migrate to the southern United States and Mexico.


It was first described by John James Audubon in 1835 from a specimen collected in Texas. It was named for William Swainson, an English ornithologist and mineralogist.


Turkey Vulture

 Turkey Vulture - california birds of prey
Turkey Vulture – california birds of prey


The turkey vulture is a large bird of prey that is found in various parts of North America. It is often seen sitting on the ground or soaring in the sky.

The turkey vulture has a dark head and neck, with brownish-gray feathers on its body and wings. 

Its diet consists mainly of carrion, which it finds by circling over open areas or by following other scavengers.


It is also known as the “turkey buzzard” or “buzzard”. Other names for this animal include “vulture” and “carrion crow”.


The turkey vulture was first described scientifically in 1813 by William Bartram who classified it as Vultur aura, Latin for “wandering vulture.”


California Bald Eagle

California Bald Eagle - California birds of prey
California Bald Eagle – California birds of prey


The California Bald Eagle is a large bird of prey that lives in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.

It is also known as the American Bald Eagle and belongs to the family Accipitridae.


The bald eagle is a symbol of power, strength, and freedom. It also symbolizes America’s national pride.


Golden Eagles

Golden Eagles - California birds of prey
Golden Eagles – California birds of prey


Golden Eagles are the most powerful birds of prey in North America. They have a wingspan of up to 7 feet and weigh up to 14 pounds.


Golden eagles live in various locations from the Arctic Circle to South America.

They can be found in

  • mountainous areas,
  • deserts, and
  • coastal regions.

In North America, they live in

  • Alaska
  • Canada
  • as well as the western United States.


They are often seen soaring overhead or perched on a tree branch scanning for prey such as rabbits, squirrels, hares, marmots, chipmunks and other small animals that they eat whole including bones and fur.


Osprey

Osprey - California birds of prey
Osprey – California birds of prey


The osprey is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. These birds are found near water, and some live in coastal regions.

They have long wings, which allows them to catch fish from the water without coming down from the sky.


The osprey is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae.

These birds are found near water, and some live in coastal regions.

They have long wings, which allows them to catch fish from the water without coming down from the sky.


The Ferruginous Hawk

The Ferruginous Hawk - California birds of prey
The Ferruginous Hawk – California birds of prey


The Ferruginous Hawk is a large bird of prey that is native to the western United States.

It is one of the few birds of prey that can live in dry desert habitat.

The Ferruginous Hawk has a wingspan of about 3 feet and weighs about 2 pounds. 

It has a dark brown body with light brown streaks on its sides and a white chest.

The female hawk is typically larger than the male hawk and can have an wingspan as long as 4 feet, which makes it one of the largest hawks in North America.


Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk - California birds of prey
Red-Tailed Hawk – California birds of prey


The red-tailed hawk is a large bird of prey. It has a red tail, brown body, and white head. The red-tailed hawk is the most common hawk in North America.


The Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is one of the most well-known hawks in the United States, as well as one of the most common raptors in the region.

The bird of prey can be seen all year in California, particularly in the southern parts, where it feasts on a range of small animals such as mice, rats, and other rodents.


Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawk -  California Birds of prey
Sharp-Shinned Hawk – California Birds of prey


The sharp-shinned hawk is the smallest of California’s three hawk species.


The sharp-shinned hawk has a long, pointed wingspan and a short, square tail.

The bird’s coloration varies, but the majority are brown with dark bars on their chests and light bars on their bellies.

They have a white throat and are brown on top and white on the bottom.


Sharp-shinned hawks eat small birds and rodents, and they usually hunt by sitting quietly on an elevated perch until prey is within striking distance, then swooping down to catch it in their feet or talons.


Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk - California birds of pray
Cooper’s Hawk – California birds of praySharp-shinned Hawk on a bird feeder.


Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized bird of prey native to the North American continent.


The Cooper's Hawk has a stout body, broad wings, and short tail.

Adults have brown upperparts and whitish underparts with heavy streaking on the breast.

The head is dark with a white throat and facial disc, which can be either pale or bright yellow.

Juveniles have duller brown plumage with shorter, darker streaks.

This species is sometimes considered to be a subspecies of the Harlan’s Hawk.


White-Tailed Kite

White-Tailed Kite - California birds of prey
White-Tailed Kite – California birds of prey


The white-tailed kite is a bird of prey that lives in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico.

It is one of the most common birds of prey in North America.


In California, the White-Tailed Kite is also rather common.

The scientific name for the totally protected raptor is “Elanus leucurus,” and it is notable for its light hue, particularly its white tail and black markings on the shoulder.

The bird’s red eyes are another distinguishing feature when viewed up close.


With the head and tail angled downwards, the kite likes to beat its wings in the opposite direction of the wind.

The bird can be found in open woodlands, marshes, and grasslands, where it usually gathers in roosts.


Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk -California birds of Prey
Red-Shouldered Hawk -California birds of Prey


In North America, the Red-shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized hawk.

They can be found from southern Canada to northern Mexico, as well as in the United States.

They can be found in a wide range of environments, including cities and agricultural fields.

The red-shouldered hawk is one of North America's most common raptors.

The diet of the red-shouldered hawk is primarily small mammals, although it also includes reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other birds.

They hunt by perching on a high branch or fence post, waiting for their prey to approach close enough for them to catch it with their feet or talons.

Also read the brainy and brainless animals.

All photos credit to istockphoto,

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