Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Keen eyes spot prey from 3,000 feet away. T he hunt begins for the raptor. Wings spread outward while the powerful feet extend downward. The sharp, heavy talons grasp hold of the unsuspecting animal. Soon a hooked beak will tear it apart. The hunt is over as the bird of prey consumes its meal.
Adult raptors, or birds of prey, have few predators. With its adaptations, it can hunt medium to large-sized animals. Although they have a lifespan of 20-30 years, raptors have slow breeding rates and high mortality among young birds. When adult survival drops, there is a great reduction in the population of that species.
(Pandion haliaetus) (Wingspan 54-72" ) *White underside and head, and dark back. *Dark brown stripe through yellow eyes. *Diet consists solely of fish. *Hunt from above, diving into the water. *Nests on platform and tall trees around the refuge.
(Falco sparverius) (Wingspan 9-12") *Small Blue-jay sized Hawk. *Reddish back and tail. *Mustached black and white face patterns. *Males have blue/gray wings. *Females have reddish wings. * Hovers, rapidly beating wings while pursuing prey. *Feed on insects, small birds, and rodents.
(Circus cyaneus) (Wingspan 42") *White rump at the base of the tail. *Narrow tail in flight. *Males are gray. *Females are streaked brown. *Young have red breast. * Soars unsteadily over marshes with wings in a V-shape. *Hunt by ambush while flying close to the ground.
(Buteo jamaicensis) (Wingspan 48") *Rust colored tail. *White breast with stripes along the belly. *Round wing tips and fan-shaped tail. *Diet consists mainly of small rodents. *Hunt by soaring over open fields or by sitting in a tree.
(Wingspan 55-71") *Soar continuously in circles, rarely beating wings. *Scavenges for food, eating dead animal carcasses. *Turkey vulture (Catharies auraj), the most commonly seen, have a red head. (immature have black heads and legs.) *Black vulture (Coragyps atratus) have a black head and gray legs under a short tail.