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Are you an avid bird-watcher looking to expand your knowledge of birds of prey in North America? Knowing the different types of birds of prey can help birders identify and appreciate the wildlife they see while birding.

For this blog post, we will focus on the top 5 birds of prey in the United States. These birds are the Bald Eagle, American Kestrel, Barred owl, Cooper’s Hawk, and Peregrine Falcon. Each of these birds is unique in its own way, and they display an intense level of power and skill. We will describe each of these birds and explain why it is considered among the top birds of prey in the United States.

The Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle is the national bird of the United States and stands as a symbol of American strength and freedom. It is a large bird of prey with a wingspan of up to 7 feet and a body length of up to 3 feet. Its distinctive coloring includes a white head and tail, a yellow beak, and a dark brown body and wings.

The Bald Eagle has a broad global range and is found throughout North America, from Alaska and Canada south to northern Mexico. It inhabits various habitats, including coasts, rivers, lakes, and urban areas.

The Bald Eagle is a predatory and opportunistic feeder, primarily targeting fish. It is also known to scavenge and steal food from other predators. They are social birds and are often seen perched in pairs or small groups. They are active during the day, use thermal currents to soar, and cover large distances in search of food.

The American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is a small, colorful falcon in North and South America. It is the most common and widely distributed raptor in the Americas. It has a distinctive black-and-white facial pattern, a rusty back, white underparts, and a long, narrow tail with black bars. Males have a blue-grey cap, while females have a brown cap.

The American Kestrel has a wide range that extends from northern Canada to the tip of South America. They are often found in open woodlands, grasslands, fields, and near water sources. They can also be found in some urban areas.

The American Kestrel is a highly agile and active bird. They are most active during the day and can often be seen hovering in the air in search of prey. They also hunt on the ground and often perch on fence posts and telephone wires to survey their territory. They are also known to use their nests year after year.

The Barred Owl

The Barred owl (Strix varia) is a medium-sized owl native to the eastern and western parts of North America. It has a characteristic pattern of dark vertical stripes on its upper body and chest, which gives it its name. Its head is round and has a distinctive brownish-black facial disk with white eyebrows. It has a large, rounded tail and yellow eyes.

The Barred owl’s habitat includes deciduous and coniferous forests, woodlands, swampy areas, and riparian areas. Its range extends from southern Canada to the eastern and western United States, Mexico, and Central America.

The Barred owl is mainly nocturnal and spends its days roosting in dense foliage. It is an opportunistic feeder, primarily hunting small mammals, birds, and amphibians. It also feeds on insects, reptiles, and fish. It hunts by perching and then swooping down on its prey. Its call is a characteristic "who-cooks-for-you" hoot.

The Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper's Hawk is a bird that is found in North America. It is a medium-sized raptor and is usually 16-24 inches long. Its feathers are grey on top and brown-red on the bottom. It has a round head with a dark cap and a white forehead. Its legs are long and yellow.

The Cooper's Hawk is found mainly in deciduous and mixed wood forests, as well as residential and suburban areas. It is also found in open woodlands and fields. Its range extends from Alaska and Canada to southern Mexico.

The Cooper's Hawk is a fast, strong hunter. It can fly in cool loops and twisty turns. It catches small birds, mammals, and bugs. It usually watches from a branch and dives down to catch its food. It hunts alone and gets very protective when it's time to have babies.

The Peregrine Falcon

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) is a large bird of prey that stands out for its iconic for its aerial hunting skills and is one of the most widespread bird species on the planet. The Peregrine Falcon is a medium-sized raptor with a slim, streamlined body, long, pointed wings, and a relatively long tail. Its plumage is slate-gray on the back and white on the underside, with a dark stripe across the cheeks and a black forehead patch.

The Peregrine Falcon inhabits a wide range of habitats, from dense forests to treeless tundra, but is most commonly found near water. It is known to nest on cliffs, buildings, or other structures, usually in urban areas. Its range extends throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa.

The Peregrine Falcon is an expert hunter and uses its incredible speed and agility to catch other birds in mid-air. It typically dives from a high altitude, reaching speeds of up to 200 mph. It can also be seen hovering in the air or gliding on the wind.

Summing It Up

In conclusion, the United States is home to many birds of prey, and each one plays into the delicate balance of nature. From the majestic Bald Eagle to the elusive Barred Owl, there is something special about birds of prey that makes them an essential part of our lives. Knowing about birds of prey can help us appreciate the beauty of nature, and it can also help us better understand the importance of birding and the impact that humans have on the environment. By learning about birds of prey, we can help ensure that these creatures will continue to grace our skies for years to come.