Birds of Prey Identification Guide

This birds pf prey identification guide helps you spot birds very easily, if you know what to look for. They look and behave very distinctively compared with other avian species.

The Field Mark System
The field mark system is a visual system wherein bird watchers attempt to identify birds of prey based on distinctive colors, shapes and markings. If you can get a close look at one, you can easily tell them apart from other birds.

Birds of prey are typically larger than other species. They often have a sharper, more streamlined appearance. Aside from the size difference, you can typically identify birds of prey by their distinctive shapes and body styles. A good field guide for your region will help you identify different species of birds in your area.

Look for Behavior
Most birds of prey have very pronounced behavioral differences compared with other birds. Owls, for example, are widely known to be nocturnal. Ospreys are the only birds that actually dive into the water after their prey. Knowing the quirks of a particular bird's behavior can help you identify them, even when you can't get close enough to use field markings.

Know Your Local Birds of Prey
Some birds of prey, such as barn owls, are prolific, and you're apt to find them just about anywhere. Other birds call specific regions home. You're unlikely to find these birds outside their regular range, but it does happen. If you know what birds are local to your region, you can automatically narrow down the list of potential species when you're out bird watching. Knowing migratory patterns can help you identify birds that might not belong to your region but happen to be passing through. Keep in mind that birds will sometimes explore well beyond their usual habitat, so you might catch a rare glimpse of an unusual bird.

Watch Flight Patterns
In addition to being distinctive in appearance, birds of prey also have unique flight patterns. Hawks and condors will glide in circles as they ride thermals and look for prey. These birds fly using measured, deliberate strokes and rarely flap their wings. Falcons have very sharp, pointed-looking wings, and tend to fly with concentrated, powerful strokes. Kites can hover in place, flapping their wings to keep their altitude while waiting to swoop down on their prey. Learn these unusual flight patterns, and you'll be a step ahead in identifying birds of prey.

Examine Beaks and Talons
The beaks and talons of prey birds are two of the easiest features to identify. Prey birds have sharp, pointed beaks, whereas their seed-eating cousins typically have short, stout beaks. Birds of prey are also more likely to have large, sharp talons for rending prey, while other birds have much smaller talons. If you can get close enough to see the beak or talons, you'll be able to tell pretty easily whether or not it's a bird of prey, and you might even be able to tell which one it is.

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