Copyright Barbara Samuelson 1997
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) in flight
at Point Reyes, California. Identifying marks as seen from below are
dark wrist patches and legs feathered to the toes. This is a hawk
of open country that often hovers while hunting; normally seen singly
or in pairs.
How to Distinguish Between Raptor Species
the soaring hawks, have blocky bodies, broad wings and short tails.
Their characteristic hunting strategy involves soaring high over open
country, then dropping to the ground to seize prey. See Red-tailed
Hawk, Swainson's Hawk.
woodland hawks, have short, rounded wings and long tails. These adaptations
allow them to maneuver quickly among trees after birds and small mammals.
Their tails usually have light and dark bars. See Sharp-shinned
Hawk, Cooper's Hawk.
have long, slim wings which taper to pointed tips. In flight
the wings angle back at the wrists and wing beats are rapid. Falcon
bodies are sleek; they have very round heads and long, narrow tails.
Most falcons have noticeable patterns on their faces, such as the
two cheek "sideburns" of the kestrel. See Kestrel,
are very large and can be distinguished from other raptors
by their size and proportionately large, broad wings. They soar, often
at great heights, and have slow, deliberate wing beats.