Stupid question - identifying birds of prey

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by kuntrychick, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. kuntrychick

    kuntrychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2009
    I know this may be a stupid question, bit gonna go ahead & ask...LOL

    When there's a big bird flying up in the sky, how can you tell of it's a hawk, a buzzard, crow, etc.

    Today while I was outside with my chickens, I heard the roosters make that noise like when they've seen something. I have one teenage rooster that gives false alarms many times...if there's a leaf falling, he will make that sound. [​IMG] LOL. Then, I looked up & saw a bird flying over. It wasn't flapping its wings, just kinda soaring fairly low. It appeared to be black, bit not quite sure,

    Well, right after this bird flew over out of sight, I heard what sounded like a crow (although I'm not totally sure of their sound) coming from another direction but never saw it. I know I've read on here that crows will scare hawks off, so that made me think the bird I saw flying over might have been a hawk.

    How can one be sure of what kind of bird of prey is flying over?

    Do any certain ones mostly soar or flap their wings? WhT kind of sound do they make, if any? What color? Etc.....
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Well, the only way one can be absolutely sure is to study birds of prey and become familiar with their varying sizes, flight, coloration, etc. etc. Even then it can be difficult sometimes to know exactly what you are looking at. Coloration obviously is a good way to tell, if you can get a good enough look. Vultures tend to be solidly colored with lighter areas on the bottom sides of the wings. Bald head of course but you'd have to be pretty close to see that. Most hawks have patterning on the underside of the wings. That's probably the simplest way to tell. Falcon's will be smaller, look for very pointy wing tips compared to hawks, these are not a threat to your hens anyway. Chicks, perhaps. Crows are much smaller then hawks, narrower wings from body to tip and all black of course. But a lot of birds look black when viewed against the sky.

    Vultures will circle an area of interest but so will a hawk. Some people will try to tell you hawks don't circle but only fly in straight runs over an area but they most certainly will circle if something has caught their eye.

    My rooster also sounds a warning at most any bird flying over but he gets much more serious about it when a hawk is in the area.
  3. Attila the Honey

    Attila the Honey Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 21, 2011
    Buy a good bird book - Peterson's is probably the best. There are silhouette drawings of different hawks, vultures, falcons and eagles. My chicken alarm goes off only when a predator is near. They couldn't care less about my German Shepherd, but let a coyote in the yard - they know the difference. The same with a large pigeon versus a kestrel or falcon. THEY KNOW.
  4. Attila the Honey

    Attila the Honey Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 21, 2011
    I meant to say the silhouette's are "in flight" - what you see from the ground.
  5. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    When looking at birds of prey floating, if their wings make a straight line across from tip to tip, they are either hawks or eagles. If the wings from tip to tip have a slight v shape, they are vultures.

    Eagles and vultures and hawks float a lot, rarely flapping their wings. Crows flap. Hawks will flap when they are flying to get away from crows harassing them.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
  6. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    I could tell by the calls they made.One I thought was a hawk was actually a turkey vulture.Figured that out when I got a close up in the trees and saw the red head. Lol,they still made the chickens run for cover.
  7. petejd

    petejd Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 25, 2011
    Bluffton, SC.
  8. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    You can also spend some tie browsing on Narrow it down to the birds that are in your area and you will be able to look at multiple photos and information about each. Some hawks and falcons are pretty small, with crows and ravens being larger.
  9. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2011
    I found Peterson's iPhone app, it is not as extensive as their books (which I also have, but my family are all birdwatchers, so my books shelf just looks weird without a few bird books on it) but I usually have my iPod in my pocket, and it has good views of the birds of prey.
    I have had a pair of bald eagles over the house every few days the last few months. They seem disappointed that the birds are in yards with covers on top.
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO

    Even airplanes will set some birds off.

    Acipiters (bird hawks) and falcons have pointed wings.
    Vultures, eagles, rough legged, harlan's and short tailed hawks are dark underneath when overhead.
    Buteos(buzzard hawks) and harriers are light underneath.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by