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21 Amazing Birds Of Prey Of Pennsylvania

Birds of prey are primarily carnivorous birds that hunt and eat vertebrates. Of the about 557 species of birds of prey globally, most of these birds, being falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, ospreys, etc., fall within the category of birds of prey of Pennsylvania. Check out the list:

1. Peregrine Falcon

Scientific name – Falco peregrinus

Body length – 34-58 cm (13-23 in)

Weight – about 750 g to 1.5 kg

Wingspan – 75-120 cm

Lifespan – about 15 years

Diet – Carnivore

 

Peregrine Falcons were initially called “Duck Hawks” and are known for their characteristic speed dives are soaring flight speeds. They are the fastest among the birds of Pry of Pennsylvania and also the fastest animal in the world. They are sexually dimorphic, and their diet is largely pigeons and ducks. They also feed on small mammals, insects, and reptiles too.

2. Barn Owl

Scientific name – Tyto alba

Body length – 14-24 in

Weight – 224-710 g

Wingspan – 30-40 in

Lifespan – about 4 to 15 years

Diet – Carnivore

 

Among the birds of prey of Pennsylvania is the Barn Owl, also called “common barn owl.” They have a heart-shaped face, with a brown or, frequently, grey plumage on their heads and backs. They are medium-sized, with a brown-colored body, long wings, and short tails. Unlike other owls, the Barn Owl doesn’t hoot but rather screeches.

Barn owls are carnivores that feed primarily on lizards, bats, amphibians, voles, godwits, shrews, etc.

3. Barred Owl

Scientific name – Strix varia

Body length – 40-63 cm (16-25 in)

Weight – about 470 g to 1.05 kg

Wingspan – 96-125 cm

Lifespan – 10 years in wild; 23 years in captivity

Diet – Carnivore

Conservation status – Least Concern

 

Barred Owls are prominent members of the birds of prey of Pennsylvania, with grey-colored bodies and dark, thick bars around the throat and napes. Also called “Northern Barred Owl” or “Hoot Owl,” these birds have characteristic short and yellow beaks that are pretty distinct from their pale body. They have also been called “Old-Eight Hooters” because of their empathic, loud, and spectacular calling sounds.

Barred owls have large ear tufts with large heads. They prey on smaller mammals, as well as small fish and reptiles.

4. Long-Eared Owl

Scientific name – Megascops asio

Body length – 16-25 cm (6-9 in)

Wingspan – 46-61 cm (18-24 in)

Weight – 166 g in males; 194 g in females

Lifespan – 14 years in the wild; 20 years in captivity

Diet – Carnivore

 

The Long-Eared Owl is among the medium-sized birds of prey of Pennsylvania, also known as “Lesser Horned Owl” or “Cat Owl.” As their name suggests, Long-eared owls have protruding ear tufts, unlike other owl species.

These carnivorous birds feed on rodents and voles primarily, being good hunters. They also prey on insects and other birds.

Long-eared owls are migratory birds and are sometimes referred to as nomadic due to their erratic migratory routes.

Long-eared owls exhibit reverse dimorphism as their males have duller plumage than the females.

5. Great-Horned Owl

Scientific name – Bubo virginianus

Body length – 46-63 cm (18-25 in)

Wingspan – up to 145 cm (57 in)

Weight – 1.6 kg for males; 1.2 kg for females

Lifespan – 13 years in the wild; 29 years in captivity

Diet – Carnivore

 

Among the birds of prey of Pennsylvania is the Great-horned Owl, also known as the “Hoot Owl” or “Tiger Owl.” These large birds generally feed on rats, voles, mice, rabbits, and other small mammals. They also prey on some large-sized mammals, rodents, reptiles, and birds. Their diet and prey list are similar to that of the Red-tailed Hawk and other similarities like their nesting process and common hunting grounds.

The Great-horned owl has a body-color ideal as camouflage for hunting efficiency. Their light-shaded belly with brown bars and mottled-brown upper with dark marks give them an excellent camouflage advantage. They have a reddish to greyish facial disc, with special feathers called plumicorns, that look like horns.

Great-horned Owls have a loud and low-pitched calling sound.

6. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Scientific name – Aegolius acadius

Body length – 16-22 cm (6.7-8.7 in)

Weight – 54-151 g

Wingspan – 41-56 cm

Lifespan – about seven years

Diet – Carnivore

 

 

Among the smallest owls of North America is the Northern Saw-whet Owls. They are migratory birds of prey in Pennsylvania, with an irregular pattern of migrations. They have a brownish-cream peak fixed on round, white-colored faces having yellow eyes.

The Northern Saw-whet Owls have many similarities to the Short-eared Owls, except that they are smaller. The Northern Saw-whet Owls also lack sexual dimorphism and have a variety of calling sounds.

7. Eastern Screech Owl

Scientific name – Megascops asio

Body length – 16-25 cm (6-9 in)

Wingspan – 46-61 cm (18-24 in)

Weight – 166 g in males; 194 g in females

Lifespan – 14 years in the wild; 20 years in captivity

Diet – Omnivore

 

Among the smaller members of the birds of prey in Pennsylvania is the Eastern-screech Owls. They have a large head with rounded wings and a short, square tail. They also have pointed and raised ear tufts.

When it comes to coloration, these birds may be grey or rufous in color. They also have yellow eyes with almost no distinguishable neck.

Eastern-Screech owls are of two variations in color: the “the rufous or red morphs” and “the grey morphs.” The Grey morphs’ color allows for better camouflage against hardwood barks, while red morphs find camouflage among colorful pine trees.

Being omnivores, the diet of this bird, unlike other birds of prey in Pennsylvania, consists of grasshoppers, crickets, moths, cicadas, snails, scorpions, beetles, spiders, crayfish, young rabbits, shrews, leeches, earthworms, etc. They also prey on voles, red squirrels, and mice.

8. Osprey

Scientific name – Pandion haliaetus

Body length – 50-66 cm (20-26 in)

Weight – 900 g to 2.1 kg

Wingspan – 127-180 cm

Lifespan – about 7-10 years

Diet – Carnivore

 

Ospreys are diurnal birds of prey of Pennsylvania, also known as “fish hawk,” “river hawk,” and “sea hawk.” They are piscivorous as fish constitute a large part of their prey. They also prey on other birds, rodents, rabbits, etc.

The nests of Osprey are also quite different from other birds of prey in Pennsylvania, as they make their nests around the coastal areas. Their nests are mainly constituted of seaweeds, driftwood, sticks, etc., and are often built on artificial platforms, utility poles, rocky outgrowths, etc.

When it comes to coloration, Ospreys have white underparts with a profound or glossy-brown upper. They also have a white head with golden to brown irises. Their feet are white, amidst black-colored bills and talons.

Ospreys are non-migratory birds of prey with sharp whistles for calling sounds. Some religions, like Buddhism, refer to the Osprey as the king of birds.

9. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Scientific Name – Accipiter striatus

Body Length: 9.4-13.4 in

Weight: 31.-7.7 oz

Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 in

Lifespan – 3 years

Diet – Carnivore

 

Sharp-shinned Hawks are the smallest accipiter hawks in the United States and among the smallest of the birds of prey of Pennsylvania. They are slender-bodied, short, round-winged, and square-tipped-tailed birds equipped with quick navigation abilities as they course through dense forests.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are similar in color to Cooper’s Hawks, as they both have bluish-grey plumage on their upper, with light-orange barring on their underside. Their small size also makes them difficult to find because they are secretive and full of stealth capabilities. They reside mainly in deep forests and woodlands, where they rely on stealth in hunting.

They are migratory birds of prey, often traveling in large numbers.

10. Cooper’s Hawk

Scientific Name – Accipiter cooperii

Length: 14.6-17.7 in

Weight: 7.8-24.0 oz

Wingspan: 24.4-35.4 in

Lifespan – Up to 12 years

Diet – Carnivores

 

Cooper’s Hawks are among the medium-sized birds of prey of Pennsylvania. They resemble Sharp-shinned Hawks but differ slightly in that they have slightly larger heads, with longer tails and frames. Like the Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks have a pale-grey underside with stronger grey color on the upper side. They also have red-orange eyes (in adults) with a rufous barring. They have round-tipped tails, as opposed to the square-shaped tails of sharp-shinned hawks.

Cooper’s Hawks reside in thick forests and woodlands and prey on other parts as a large part of their diet. Their diet includes Blue Jays, Starlings, American Robins, reptiles, rodents, and other small animals.

Similar to Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks are secretive and elusive birds of prey of Pennsylvania and can only be spotted during migration.

11. Northern Goshawk

Scientific Name – Accipiter gentilis

Length: 20.9-25.2 in

Weight: 22.3-48.1 oz

Wingspan: 40.5-46.1 in

Lifespan – 7 Years

Diet – Carnivores

 

Northern Goshawks are among the more plentiful birds of prey of Pennsylvania, being accipiters. They have rounded wings and long tails. Unlike other accipiters, Northern Goshawks are among the larger birds of prey of Pennsylvania, being, in fact, the largest accipiters in North America.

Northern Goshawks are secretive birds living in dense forests and having tendencies to stay out of sight. They have grey plumage, have bright-colored eyes, and bold white stripes that make them appear to have eyebrows. In some parts of the world, they are sued as a symbol of strength.

12. Red-Shouldered Hawk

Scientific Name – Buteo lineatus

Length: 16.9-24.0 in

Weight: 17.1-27.3 oz

Wingspan: 37.0-43.7 in

Lifespan – 2 years

Diet – Carnivores

 

Among the birds of prey of Pennsylvania is the Red-shouldered Hawk. They are abundant among the western portions of Pennsylvania, occupying the wet forests and woodlands close to watercourses like swamps and rivers.

Red-shouldered Hawks are much smaller in size, having longer tails and slimmer bodies like other buteo hawks. Their flight patterns resemble those of accipiters as they glide after quick wingbeats.  

Red-shouldered Hawks have reddish-brown plumage and dark-brown color patterns on their wings and black and white barring on their tails. Red-shouldered Hawks have a unique loud call that sets them apart from other birds of prey of Pennsylvania.

13. Broad-Winged Hawk

Scientific Name – Buteo platypterus

Length: 13.4-17.3 in

Weight: 9.3-19.8 oz

Wingspan: 31.9-39.4 in

Lifespan – Up to 20 years

Diet – Carnivores

 

Featuring as the most migratory among the birds of prey of Pennsylvania is the Broad-winged Hawk, and they are best observed in the fall as they migrate to the Central and Southern parts of America. During such migrations, Broad-winged Hawks flock in thousands, and this gigantic cluster is called kettles. Their migration is so magnificent that birders from all across the globe come to feast their eyes on this display.

Broad-winged Hawks are more abundantly found during breeding seasons in Pennsylvania. However, because they reside in deep forests, they may be a lot harder to spot than other birds of prey of Pennsylvania.

Broad-winged Hawks are among the small-sized hawks, having broader wings as their name so explicitly portrays. They also have short dark-brown tails with a thick white band. Their wings and bellies are pale in color, but they have a light color barred chest. Some rare breeds have a dark, near-black plumage throughout.

14. Rough-Legged Hawk

Scientific Name – Buteo lagopus

Length: 18.5-20.5 in

Weight: 25.2-49.4 oz

Wingspan: 52.0-54.3 in

Lifespan – Up to 18 years

Diet – Carnivores

 

Rough-legged Hawks are among the less common birds of prey of Pennsylvania, commonly spotted during winter. They are found in the open Arctic tundra for most of the year, where they also breed. However, they migrate to the Northern United States and Southern Canada during the fall to spend the winter there

Rough-legged Hawks feed primarily on lemmings primarily found in the Arctic. Rough-legged Hawks are named because of their feathered legs that help keep them warm in the frigid north. As the Golden Eagles, Rough-legged hawks are the only raptors in America with feathers along their legs and all through to their talons. They are large buteo hawks, having long, broad wings and stocky bodies. They have tails that are longer than most buteos, but their feet and beaks are pretty small.

Rough-legged Hawks vary significantly in coloration. They may have light or dark color plumages.  Adult light-morph males have grey-brown uppers with white underparts, while dark-morphs are primarily dark brown all over their bodies, except for their underwings.

15. American Kestrel

Scientific name – Falco sparverius

Body length – 22-31 cm (8.7-12.2 in)

Weight – 80-165 g

Wingspan – 51-61 cm

Lifespan – about 15-17 years

 

The American Kestrel is sometimes also referred to as a sparrow hawk. They are by far the smallest and yet the most common species of falcons in Pennsylvania. This bird of prey exhibits sexual dimorphism in plumage and size, with characteristic striking and colorful plumage.

Appearance:

American Kestrels are considered as the small falcons. They are usually pale with a warm brown color. They have small black and brown spots on its lower body, tail and back. The males have slightly blue wings whereas the females have a brown reddish finish to their wings.

Size:

These birds are usually 22 to 31 cm in size and have a wingspan length of 51 to 61 cm. American Kestrel weighs approximately 80 to 165 g.

Habitat:

These birds are most extensively found throughout a diverse range of habitats. They can be seen in the deserts, countryside, meadows, open lands, parks, and fields. They are especially seen sitting on the wires along the roads.

Food:

These birds are categorized as carnivorous. They mainly depend on small mammals, birds, reptiles, grasshoppers, snails, beetles, worms, lizards, frogs, quail etc.

Behavior:

These are regarded as opportunistic hunters. They usually prefer sitting at higher tree branches in large open fields and meadows. They usually sit and wait for the prey and then attack them as soon as they get the opportunity to do so. They catch their prey with their feet and then attack them by killing it by eating through the back of its head. Their diet usually varies with the geographic and seasonal differences.

The American Kestrel has a rufous color on its back and visible lines, giving it its characteristic appearance as a bird of prey of Pennsylvania.

16. Turkey Vulture

Scientific name – Cathartes aura

Body length – 62-81 cm (24-32 in)

Weight – 800 g to 2.4 kg

Wingspan – 160-183 cm

Lifespan – about 17 years

 

Among the birds of prey of Pennsylvania is the Turkey vulture, also commonly referred to as “John Crow” in the Caribbean regions and “Turkey Buzzard” in the North American regions.

The Turkey vulture is a scavenger that primarily feeds on carrion. They are peaceful birds that produce only low hissing and grunting sounds occasionally.

Appearance:

Turkey vultures are usually black in appearance. But they are dark brown on clear observation. They have a red head and featherless finish on their head. Most of the body is dark but the underparts of body and feather are paler in finish. This gives the bird an overall two-colored tone. They are large birds and have broad wings. They have large fingertips at the end of their wings.

Size:

These birds are usually 63 to 81 cm in size approximately and have a wingspan length of about 170 to 178 cm. They have an average body weight of about 2000 g.

Habitat:

These birds are commonly encountered in diverse habitat ranges. They are seen in open fields, meadows, roadsides, landfills, suburbs, and construction sites. They are usually found sitting at the top of poles and wires in the city sites.

Food:

Turkey Vultures have a sharp sense of smell that helps them to detect its prey from a large distance. They eat carrion and mammals but do not like feeding upon amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. They prefer eating freshly dead animals. Some vultures depend on the leftover food from any other animal’s prey. They sometimes leave the food for softening up so that they can munch on it later on.

Behavior:

These birds are not particularly social able around humans. They have a unique flight pattern. Their flight comprises of covering large distances with few flaps of wings during the flight. They are seen around the dumpsters and garbage landfills and particularly around regions where there are dead leftover meats.

These birds have heightened senses of sight and smell, which give them the upper hand in locating their food. Being scavengers, they often fly lower than most birds of prey of Pennsylvania to locate the fumes of dead or decaying flesh.

17. Golden Eagle

Scientific name – Aquila chrysaetos

Body length – 60-102 cm (26-40 in)

Weight – about 4.5 to 6.35 kg

Wingspan – 1.8-2.34 m

Lifespan – about 30 years

 

Perhaps among the best birds of prey of Pennsylvania and the northern hemisphere are the Golden Eagles. They are decorated with a dark-brown color all over their bodies, with a characteristic golden plumage.

The golden eagle is incredibly fast, agile, and equipped with strong feet and sharp-edged talons to catch its prey.

Appearance:

These birds have large dark brown bodies with large wings. The head is not actually bald but appears to be bald because of the white feathered head. They are very large raptors with broad wings. The young ones have a brown body with white streaks in between.

Size:

They have an average body size of about 70 to 102 cm. The wing spread length is however larger. It is about 1.8 to 2.3 m long. The average body weight is about 3 to 6.3 kg. he females are larger than the males.

Habitat:

They are found in large reservoirs. They can be seen near the marshes, river sides, along water bodies, open lands, coasts, fish processing units, dumpsters, and wildlife refuges.

Food:

They usually attack small mammals as rabbits, hares etc. They prefer eating fish and are therefore found around the rivers and such sites where these could be easily caught. They also depend on the leftover of other’s prey sometimes.

Behavior:

They sometimes show an aggressive behavior towards other small birds. They are mostly seen perching on trees and grounds. They fly high in the sky with few slow wing flaps. Instead of catching their own fish they harass and grab the food from other animals. It is regarded to have a bad moral character. These are known to play with small plastic objects and stones. The young ones spend their early years of life in exploring different regions. They hunt cooperatively by directing other fellows towards the prey.

Being carnivores, these birds of prey of Pennsylvania feed on hares, rabbits, ground squirrels, etc., because of their hunting prowess and unparalleled efficiency. This bird is perhaps one of the most studied topics in parts of the world.

18. Bald Eagle

Scientific name – Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Body length – 78-86 cm (30-34 in) in males; 89-94 cm (35-37 in) in females

Weight – about 3 to 6.3 kg

Wingspan – 182-215 cm in males; 220-280 cm in females

Lifespan – about 15-20 years

Diet – Carnivore

 

Perhaps the most famous among the birds of prey of Pennsylvania is the bald eagle because it is the national bird of the United States of America and features on the national seal. Here’s an interesting fact: the bald eagle doesn’t get its name because of the absence of hair on its head. In fact, the whole head of this bird is covered with white feathers.  Their name comes as a result of characteristic white feathers that cover their head. The Bald Eagle exhibits sexual dimorphism.

Bald eagles have large, yellow, unhooked beaks and are closely related to the American Fish eagle. Bald eagles are carnivores that survive mainly on fish.

19. Harris’s Hawk

Scientific name – Parabuteo unicinctus

Body length – 46-59 cm (18-23 in)

Weight – 710 g in males; 1.02 kg in females

Wingspan – 103-120 cm

Lifespan – about 12 years

Diet – Carnivore

 

Harris’ Hawks are also referred to as “Bay-Winged Hawk” or “Dusky Hawk” and are among the medium to large-sized birds of prey in Pennsylvania. Harris’ Harks is famous for fleeing captivity.

While other birds of prey of Pennsylvania tend to hunt alone, Harris’ Hawks tend to hunt as a pack. They are more social, intelligent, and tolerant birds. These qualities make them a lot easier to train and explain why they are so popular among birds of prey of Pennsylvania.

The Harris’s Hawks exhibit sexual dimorphism. They have a dark-brown-colored plumage with chestnut shoulders and long yellow legs. Their calling sounds are harsh in tone.

20. Red-Tailed Hawk

Scientific name – Buteo jamaicensis

Body length – 45-55 cm (18-22 in)

Weight – 1.1 to 1.5 kg

Wingspan – 120-141 cm

Lifespan – 21 years in the wild; 29 years in captivity

 

In the United States of America, the Red-Tailed Hawk is sometimes referred to as “chickenhawk,” as they have a red-colored, muscular tail. The color of their dorsal ranges from white to near-black.

Being carnivores, these birds of prey of Pennsylvania feed primarily on rodents and ground squirrels. They also consume crabs, lizards, and other birds as well.

Appearance:

They are broad winged and bulky in size. They have a dark brown body and reddish-brown tail. They have darker bands at the body and have white wing tips. They are also known as buzzard hawks or red hawks.

Size:

The females are larger in size then the males. The average size of the female red hawk is approximately 50 to 65 cm whereas the male has an average size of about 45 to 56 cm. the wingspan length is about 114 to 133 cm. The average male weighs about 690 to 1300 g whereas the female weighs about 900 to 1460 g.

Habitat:

They are usually found in open lands. Mostly, the birds are found in large empty fields, meadows, cliffs, and treetops. They are seen sitting alone in the fields. Mostly they are seen sitting on the top of poles.

Food:

They can attack on small animals as rabbits, hares, squirrels, rats, mice, snakes, and carrions. They can also attack other smaller birds.

Behavior:

They spend most of their time flying in the skies keeping an eye on the ground. They rarely flap their wings in between. They have a sharp thrilling roar like sound that they often produce. They also sometimes hunt in pairs in an attempt to catch the prey like squirrels.

Red-Tailed Hawks exhibit sexual dimorphism in size. They are also easy to train and are among the most captured birds of prey of Pennsylvania and the United States.

21. Rough-Legged Hawk

Scientific name – Buteo lagopus

Body length – 46-153 cm (18-60 in)

Weight – 600-1600 g

Wingspan – 46-153 cm (18-60 in)

Lifespan – 19 years in the wild; approximately 25 in captivity

Diet – Carnivore

 

The Rough-Legged Hawk are medium to large-sized birds of prey of Pennsylvania, sometimes referred to as Rough-legged Buzzard. Originally called Rough-Legged Falcons, the Rough-Legged Hawk feeds on smaller mammals like rats, insects, mice, etc. Similar to the hunting patterns of Ospreys, they hover above their prey before striking.

The plumage color of these birds of prey of Pennsylvania is brown with some speckles. They have long wings that make their appearance similar to Ospreys. They nest on cliffs or trees.