How To Find A Raptor

Red-tailed hawk mobbed by crows (photo by Dori via Wikimedia Commons)
Red-tailed hawk chased by crows (photo by Dori via Wikimedia Commons)

5 June 2015

Are you looking for a hawk, owl, or fledgling raptor?  Have you seen a juvenile peregrine fly around the corner but now that you’ve made that walk (or run!) you can’t find him?

Stop, listen, and watch other birds.  They’ll tell you where he is.

Small birds sound the alarm when a bird of prey is near.  In the breeding season they surround and mob the raptor if they think they can get away with it.  They’re trying to drive the raptor away from their nests.

Robins are my favorite hawk-alarms because they’re so loud and persistent.  Other species join them and they all get louder and louder.  When the crows show up it becomes a chase.

So if you need to find a raptor (at Fledge Watch, for instance) listen for the smaller birds, look where they’re looking and you may find the raptor, though perhaps not the individual you’re looking for.

(photo by Dori via Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)

p.s. American robins’s eyes look sideways, not straight on like ours, so you’ll have to pick one side of the head and follow the sight-line from there.  Confusing!

3 thoughts on “How To Find A Raptor

  1. Around here (near Baton Rouge, LA) we have blue jays that sound the alarm. They can sure make a LOT of noise! Usually joined by mockingbirds and wrens.

  2. I’ve been seeing the ‘chasing/bullying’ behavior a lot lately! Also, have you seen the news reports about the juvenile red-tailed hawk that has taken up residence on the White House grounds?

  3. Interesting…. I hear the robins sometimes in my neighborhood, and they go on and on. One day I looked up in the sky and saw a red tailed hawk with a crow tailing him and trying to irritate him. They disappeared from view and then a few hours later I saw the same hawk and the same crow!!! I can tell when there is a raptor around, the little birds go nuts and then sometimes they all disappear.

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