Saturday, September 14, 2013

Raptor Clinic

Back when I was a bird-crazy teenager, I would go through birding magazines (there were no blogs then, no web sites either) trying to identify the photos of each species without looking at the caption. So here's a suggestion - try that first, don't look at the caption, just look at the birds and see how you do.
Other than a VERY nice first hour or so of morning flight, a big push of landbirds didn't really materialize on the ground in Cape May today, despite the apparent aligning of the stars for one (cold front after days of poor migration.) Hawks were aloft however, and I spent most of the day getting my eye back in for the hawkwatching season.
 [Side-by side comparisons are always great for learning shape differences. Above, compare the rounded, short wings of the Cooper's Hawk on the left with the classic long, pointed wings of the Peregrine Falcon on the right. Cape May Point today, click to enlarge all photos.]

 [Above, Broad-winged Hawk and below Red-tailed Hawk, both juveniles, in Cape May today. Broad-winged is unfortunately named, since as buteos go its wings are actually fairly slim and nicely tapered. Compare the Red-tailed's broader, blunter tipped wings.]

 [Above, Cooper's Hawk, below Sharp-shinned Hawk. More shape comparison: greater head projection and straighter leading edge of the wing on the Coop. These two also show classic tail shapes, nicely rounded on the Coop and squared with a notch on Sharp-shinned.]

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