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Today's Wildlife Field Identification Guide  

Birds of Prey

Birds of prey feed on other birds or mammals. Examples are eagles, falcons, and owls. Birds of prey are found throughout North America. All of these birds are protected.

Range Maps

All animal descriptions are accompanied by a map showing the animal's habitat range. The maps are color-coded as follows:

  Summer Range
  Winter Range
  All-Year Range
Condor
Condor Condor Area Map
Protected. Largest bird of prey in North America; endangered. Dull, gray-black feathers, bare head that is blackish in young, reddish-orange in adult. Habitat and Habits:
Mountains and surrounding brush country where it can safely detect and approach carrion. Carnivorous (raptor). One egg every other year.
Eagle, Bald
Bald Eagle
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Bald Eagle Area Map
Protected. Large, dark bird with white head and tail; yellow bill. Immature: Brownish speckled with more white under wings and belly. Habitat and Habits:
Found on lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. Makes a loud screech. Nests on cliffs or in trees; 1 - 3 pale blue eggs.
Eagle, Golden
Golden Eagle
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Golden Eagle Area Map
Protected. Large, dark bird. Immature: Dark with white patches under wings and on tail. Habitat and Habits:
Found in mountains, foothills, sagebrush plains, grasslands, and open woodlands. Mostly quiet. Nests on cliffs, on ground, or in trees; 1 - 4 speckled eggs.
Falcon, American Kestrel (Sparrow Hawk)
American Kestrel
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission
American Kestrel Area Map
Small falcon. Male has rust-colored back and tail; blue-gray wings; white with dark spots below; black tip on tail. Female has rust-colored back, tail, and wings; white with dark spots below; narrow brown stripes on tail. Both have two black stripes on side of white face. Habitat and Habits:
Found in cities, on farms, and in open country. Makes a "killy-killy-killy" call. Nests in cavities; 3 - 7 white or pink eggs with dark blotches.
Falcon, Peregrine
Peregrine Falcon
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Luther Goleman
Peregrine Falcon Area Map
Protected. Large, speckled brown falcon with bluish-gray back, darker head, and lighter neck and chest. Immature: Streaked belly and breast. Habitat and Habits:
Found near cliffs, urban, and coastal areas. Makes a high-pitched “ki-ki-ki-ki” call. Nests in cliffs; 3 - 4 white eggs.
Hawk, Cooper's
Cooper's Hawk
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission
Cooper's Hawk Area Map
Small, "crow-sized" hawk with short, rounded wings and long, narrow tail. Habitat and Habits:
Found in broken forests and open woodlands. Makes a series of nasal, barking notes. Nests high in trees; 3 - 8 eggs, pale blue-green with dark marks.
Hawk, Ferruginous
Ferruginous Hawk
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Ferruginous Hawk Area Map
Very large hawk that is reddish above and white below with reddish leg feathers and black tips on underside of wings. Habitat and Habits:
Found on open land, grasslands, sagebrush plains, and badlands. Makes a loud “kree-e-ah” call. Nests in trees, on cliff edges, or on ground; 2 - 6 white eggs with brown spots or blotches.
Hawk, Northern Harrier (Marsh Hawk)
Northern Harrier (Marsh) Hawk
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Northern Harrier (Marsh) Hawk Area Map
Protected. Male is grayish-brown with lighter underside. Female is larger and brown with streaked underside. Both have white patch on rump. Habitat and Habits:
Found in fields, grasslands, and marshes. Generally quiet unless alarmed. Nests on ground; 3 - 9 pale blue eggs.
Hawk, Red-Tailed
Red-tailed Hawk
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission
Red-tailed Hawk Area Map
Protected. Most common hawk. Light phase: Brown with white chest and short, rust-colored tail. Dark phase: Dark brown with darker rust-colored tail. Immature: Lacks rust-colored tail. Habitat and Habits:
Found in deciduous forests and open country such as grasslands, plains, and farming areas. Makes a "keeeeer," "klooeeek," or "chwirk" call. Nests in tall trees or on rocky ledges; 1 - 5 white eggs with dark spots.
Hawk, Swainson's
Swainson's Hawk
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Swainson's Hawk Area Map
Brown with white throat, light brown chest, and white below; pale area on underside of long wings; dark brown tail with indistinct stripes. Rare dark phase: All dark with reddish area on underside of wings. Habitat and Habits:
Found in plains, grasslands, and prairies. Makes a whistling “kreee” sound. Nests in trees; 2 - 4 white eggs with dark spots.
Osprey
Osprey
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission
Osprey Area Map
Threatened. This "fish hawk" is dark above, white below with white head and black streak through eye. Habitat and Habits:
Found around large lakes, rivers, and seacoasts. Makes a short, shrill whistle. Nests in trees, cliffs, or human structures; 2 - 4 eggs, white, pink, or buff blotched with brown.
Owl, Common Barn
Common Barn Owl
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Common Barn Owl Area Map
Protected. Light brown with white heart-shaped face, dark eyes, and white breast. Habitat and Habits:
Found in fields, grasslands, deserts, and suburban areas. Makes a screeching call. Nests in abandoned buildings, tree hollows, and holes in ground; 4 - 7 white eggs.
Owl, Barred
Barred Owl
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Barred Owl Area Map
Large, grayish-brown with cross-barring on neck and chest, striping on belly; dark eyes; no ear tufts. Habitat and Habits:
Found in densely forested areas and wooded swamps. Makes “hoo–hoo–hoohoo” call and also screams. Nests in tree cavities; 2 - 4 white eggs.
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Burrowing Owl Area Map
Protected. Dark brown with white spots; lighter chest with dark spots; yellow eyes. Habitat and Habits:
Found in fields, grasslands, and deserts. Makes a “coo-coo” call. Nests in burrows deserted by small mammals; 6 - 11 white eggs.
Owl, Eastern Screech
Eastern Screech Owl
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Don Pfitzer
Eastern Screech Owl Area Map
Protected. Small, light reddish-brown or grayish owl with ear tufts and yellow eyes. Habitat and Habits:
Found in woods, swamps, and suburban areas. Makes whining call. Nests in tree cavities; 3 - 5 white eggs.
Owl, Great Horned
Great Horned Owl
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Great Horned Owl Area Map
Protected. Large, grayish with brown specks; yellow eyes and ear tufts. Habitat and Habits:
Found almost everywhere. Makes a rhythmic hooting call. Lives in nests abandoned by other birds and small mammals; 1 - 4 white eggs.
Owl, Western Screech
Western Screech Owl Western Screech Owl Area
Protected. Small, nocturnal bird, dark gray or brown, with dense streaking on underparts. Large, rounded head and yellow eyes. Habitat and Habits:
Woodlands. Carnivorous. Clutch size of 4-5.
Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission
Turkey Vulture Area Map
Large, all-dark bird with long tail and small, bare, reddish head. Habitat and Habits:
Found mainly in deciduous forests, open country, and dumps. Usually silent. Nests on bare ground, in tree hollows, on cliff ledges, or in old buildings; 1 - 3 eggs, dull white with dark marks.
North American Flyways

North American Flyways

There are four major North American flyways—the Pacific, the Central, the Mississippi, and the Atlantic Flyways. The migration route is from the northern breeding grounds to the southern wintering grounds. The lanes of heaviest concentration conform very closely to major topographical features, following the coasts, mountain ranges, and principal river valleys. Except along the coasts, the flyway boundaries are not always sharply defined.

North American flyways
Pacific Flyway
Central Flyway
Mississippi Flyway
Atlantic Flyway

Wildlife Guide
White-tailed deer tracks
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Online wildlife identification guide last modified: January 3, 2008
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