Falcon or Hawk

Β© 2012 Michael Fiveson

I came upon this magnificent bird yesterday on a lightly traveled country road. Unfortunately he was standing on the road and did not move as I drove past him. When I stopped and approached him he flew just a few feet and stopped where I took this picture. I don’t know if he is young or hurt, and I left quickly so as to cause him as little stress as possible. My first sense is that this is a falcon, but he may be a hawk. Thoughts?

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71 thoughts on “Falcon or Hawk

    • Nice!! I actually tried to find your email yesterday because I thought if anyone knew it would be you! Thanks my friend, and I’m glad he isn’t hurt and that he didn’t hurt me.

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  1. this looks very similar to the Western Red-Footed Kestrel or Falcon we get in South Africa. It has similar markings on body and wings, as well as the yellow feet of the juvenile and teh beak and nose colouring is the same. Nice sighting!

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  2. I’ve come late to the party, but I wouldn’t have done any better at ID. I’ll just go along with disperser’s guess. The young ones are usually the hardest to identify. But great catch there, Mike! Love it when the critters stop and pose for you.

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    • It was really quite weird that I could get that close to a bird like that. And you may arrive as late as you’d like
      Gunta, just know it’s no party without you. And thank you.
      Your picture from years ago……you know who you look like? Patty Hearst.

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      • OMG… not guilty! really!…. but definitely part of that same era…
        We used to have a dining room window (huge) that birds used to crash into. Quite often they’d sit there dazed for a few minutes before taking off again. Once in awhile I’d get a chance for a shot I’d never be able to pull off under normal circumstances. Perhaps this guy crashed into something, or fell out of a nest?

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      • I was thinking fell out of the nest because it was under a tree and he flapped like a chicken and only flew 4 feet.
        I believe that I too crashed into a window once and am still waiting to become UN-dazed.
        I too am part that era Gunta and remember quite vividly that whole bizarre Patty Hearst episode.

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  3. Before reading the comments, I think it’s a Pairie Falcon….It’s a fine photo… better than the photos in my ID books so it’s hard to tell.

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      • Well the Swainson’s Hawk has a dark band across the chest and a dark head. It doesn’t look like that to me. I am not sure what it is since I can only go by the word descriptions on some of these hawks and falcons… But around here we have so many Red-tails I can almost identifiy each bird by their patterns.

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      • I agree that the range of the Prairie Falcon is a bit further west… But we have had some rather dramatic fires and weather patterns this year. I’d send your photo to the local bird-watchers and see what they say… Check out Audubon etc. Sometimes you can have a sighting of a rare bird in your area. I’m not saying that’s what it is, but it sure is interesting!

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    • Yes, I was happy I got the shot, I just hope he stays well. I believe it is a hawk as pointed out by Disperser in this comment thread. The link he sent me was definitive. Avian, too, knows his birds.Thank you Daisy.

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    • Yes, that is what I have come to believe as well based on feedback and images sent to me. I appreciate you taking the time to tell me that. How old do you figure he is and is it normal that he isn’t flying yet?
      Thank you!

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  4. I have been following a Cooper’s Hawk around for two weeks trying to get a photograph, and the darned thing is very elusive! I guess it’s time to dress in camo and just wait patiently for it to come to me. It’s a clever one… always escaping before I can get my camera ready! Nice photo Mike!

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    • It is a Swainsons juvenile hawk as proved to me by links others have sent. It was amazing being that close to him and I got the sense he was not as impressed as I was πŸ˜‰

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  5. Definitely a hawk, & Swainson’s is the best call. A very cool bird. Not long ago I was in Hwange NP (Zimbabwe) & saw a similarly magnificient raptor, which my guide IDed as an immature martial eagle. He just stood in the road & let me take pics. But there was nothing wrong with him. My guess is just young & dumb.

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