HAWKS and EAGLES

HAWKS

Red-shouldered Hawk (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)

Red-shouldered Hawk watching for his dinner. SUCCESS!! (Flying away with his captured crawfish!)

Identification:  Brown above with reddish barring across light breast. Brownish-red shoulders. The dark tail is crossed by narrow white bands.  

Note the yellow eyes of the hawk above and below; 
these are juvenile/1st year hawks. Their even breast streaks are up and down, as opposed to the orange horizontal bars of the adult.

 

Red-tailed Hawk (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
Red-tailed Hawk - a little windblown! This hawk is an adult. Note the dark eyes and red tail.
Note the white chest. Unlike the Red-shouldered Hawk (above), the reddish barring forms a low band.
This is another juvenile/1st year hawk. His eyes are light-colored. Note the "V" of white feathers on the back, another sign that this is a red-tailed hawk. That black shoulder patch, seen as the hawk on the left flew off, is another indicator that this is a red-tailed hawk. (Note the white tail of this youngster.)
Broad-winged Hawk
Left behind in the migration! Broad-winged Hawk (juvenile) From September through October, literally thousands of these small buteo hawks ride the thermals, funneling through Texas to South America!  

Identification:  Similar barring on the breast as the Red-shouldered hawk, but its white tail bands are almost as wide as the dark bands. Crow-sized (our smallest buteo hawk).

Osprey
Still regarded as the lone member of a subfamily with hawks and eagles, the Osprey is large, like an eagle.  It lands feet-first in the water when going after a fish.

Identification:  Dark brown above, white below, with a broad dark line running through the eye and down the neck. Almost as large as an eagle (6-foot wingspan).

KITES are very graceful birds with long pointed wings, resembling falcons.
White-tailed Kite (formerly Black-shouldered Kite)
Kites are very graceful, with long, pointed wings, for swift flight in open areas.

Identification:  Small (16", 3-ft wing span). Pale gray above, white below. White head with a black patch around the eye.  Black epaulettes on shoulders.

Mississippi Kite

WE took this photo at Smith Point, Texas, as these kites were migrating. They came in low and fast, because they were catching the huge dragonflies that were everywhere, eating them on the fly.

(The parking lot was nothing but carnage -- dragonflies all over the place, head-wings in place, just missing their centers!)

 

 

Identification: Long pointed wings (3-ft span). Dark gray above, paler gray below. Long black tail, and pale gray or whitish head.  From below, it appears entirely dark except for a lighter head.

Bald Eagle (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
 
These were taken in The Woodlands, early spring 2007. This was VERY exciting! The two chicks were ready to fledge. (Note that the upper bill of on fledgling had not developed correctly.)

We have only had eagles in The Woodlands for a very few years.  Development of The Woodlands relies on selling land, and Federal regulations direct than an area around an active nest remain undeveloped. 

February 2008, and GREAT NEWS! The eagles were not only back, but in the very same nest! (We didn't have a chance to look for them until February. God blessed us indeed -- we not only saw both adults soaring merrily high in the air, but for a brief time they were followed by a youngster from last year.  Two days later, we finally saw this tiny (??!) head popping over the edge of the old nest.) There are two eaglets once again.
February 2009 - Hurricane Ike had roared through in the fall, but the nest was still there.  Year 3 - same nest!

What a majestic bird!! February 20th -- There are two young 'uns in the nest, and they're starting to hop on the edge, getting ready to fledge. Can you see them?? (see photo below) That's a parent arriving with a huge fish (unseen here, unfortunately) in it's talons.  
A face that only a mother could love!
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier (female)  

Identification:  Long slender tails and wings tipped in black. White rumps (easily visible in flight). 4-ft wingspan. A ruff around the face.  Males: pale gray above, white below, with large white patch on rump. Females are brown above and heavily streaked below.  This is the ONLY harrier in North America.

Harris's Hawk

According to John Tveten, two male Harris's Hawks have been known to mate with the same female, and then both males remain to raise the young. (A true menage-a-trois!) In flight, this is a beautiful bird, with a broad white stripe on it's tail, and rust/chocolate brown wings.  In the U.S., seen only in southern Texas (Rio Grande area) and Arizona.

White-tailed Hawk

(Juvenile)