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Red-shouldered hawk: Radnor Lake, Nashville

August 8th, 2012 · No Comments · bird identification

Red-shouldered hawk at Radnor LakeDuring today’s hike, Steve D. and I were treated to a close-up viewing of a previously injured Red-shouldered hawk (a broken left wing, I believe) now being raised by the staff at Radnor Lake in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Red” — Red is my nickname for the redheaded park ranger girl I see more often than any other ranger there… so often, in fact, that I should know her personally by now — happily handled the red-shouldered hawk to much delight, showing the magnificent bird of prey to everyone walking by, patiently answering what must have been a nearly endless stream of questions from passers-by (including us).

Red-shouldered hawk at Radnor LakeThe Red-shouldered Hawk — Buteo lineatus — is a medium-sized hawk with a breeding range spanning eastern North America, also dwelling along the coast of California and northern- to northeastern-central Mexico.

Red-shouldered hawks are permanent residents throughout most of their range. The main conservation threat to the red-shouldered hawk, a fairly widespread bird-of-prey species, is deforestation.

Bionic vision: The amazing visual acuity of hawks

Coming soon

Categories of birds of prey

birds of prey: eagle, photo by Steven DieringerThe common names for various birds of prey are based on structure but many of the traditional names do not reflect the evolutionary relationships between the groups.

Eagles tend to be large birds with long, broad wings and massive feet. Booted eagles have legs and feet feathered to the toes and build very large stick nests.

Ospreys, a single species found worldwide that specializes in catching fish, and builds large stick nests.

Kites have long wings and relatively weak legs. They spend much of their time soaring. They will take live vertebrate prey but mostly feed on insects or even carrion.

The true hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that usually belong to the genus Accipiter (see below). They are mainly woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails for tight steering.

Buzzards are medium-large raptors with robust bodies and broad wings, or, alternatively, any bird of the genus Buteo (also commonly known as “hawks” in North America).

Harriers are large, slender hawk-like birds with long tails and long thin legs. Most use a combination of keen eyesight and hearing to hunt small vertebrates, gliding on their long broad wings and circling low over grasslands and marshes.

Vultures are carrion-eating raptors of two distinct biological families, each occurring in only the Eastern Hemisphere (Accipitridae) or the Western (Cathartidae). Members of both groups have heads either partly or fully devoid of feathers.

Falcons are medium-size birds of prey with long pointed wings. Unlike most other raptors, they belong to the Falconidae, rather than the Accipitridae. Many are particularly swift flyers. Instead of building their own nests, falcons appropriate old nests of other birds, but sometimes they lay their eggs on cliff ledges or in tree hollows. Caracaras are a distinct subgroup of the Falconidae unique to the New World, and most common in the Neotropics – their broad wings, naked faces and appetites of a generalist suggest some level of convergence with either the Buteos or the vulturine birds, or both.

Owls are variable-sized, typically night-specialized hunting birds. They fly almost silently due to special feather structure to reduce turbulence. They have particularly acute hearing.

Red-shouldered hawk at Radnor Lake

Resources: Red-shouldered hawk: Radnor Lake, Nashville

This post was started on Tuesday, August 07, 2012

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