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Hawks and Falcons


There are about 28 species of hawks, falcons, kites and eagles in the North America. Michigan is home to about 18 species of these Birds of Prey or Raptors. Raptors are predatory birds that hunt and kill other birds and animals for their food. Owls are also Raptors however they’re not in the same family as Hawks and Falcons.

All hawks and falcons:

  • Are vertebrates. This means they have a backbone or spine.
  • Are “endothermic” or warm-blooded. Endothermic animals can regulate their body temperature, allowing them to live in a variety of habitats on Earth.
  • Are covered with feathers.
  • Have excellent vision for detecting their prey during the day time (diurnal).
  • Possess strong grasping feet, sharp talons and hooked beaks made for tearing flesh.

About Bobbi and Falco

Our female American Kestrel, Bobbi, came to Blandford in 2006. She had flown into a window and permanently damaged her left wing.  She would not be able to hunt for food or escape predators in the wild.

Our male American Kestrel, Falco, came to Blandford in 2011. He had been hit by a car and fractured his right wrist. The bone mended, but he is not able to fully extend his wing for proper flight and would not be able to survive in the wild.

Diet

The American Kestrel eats large insects, mice, small birds, and amphibians.

Habitat

The American Kestrel can live in a wide variety of habitats as long as there are open areas nearby for hunting.

Interesting Facts

  • American Kestrels help keep the populations insects and small mammals that are active during the day in check.
  • American Kestrels have a notch on their beak called a “tominal tooth” for easily snapping the necks of their prey.
  • Kestrels hide extra food in grass clumps, bushes, tree cavities and other places for a day when food is hard to find.

Species Conservation and Management

Status of American Kestrels in Michigan

This species is a year-round resident in Michigan.

Threats to Wild American Kestrels

Currently, there are no serious threats to American Kestrel populations.

buddy tag

About Buddy

Buddy was found in Cedar Springs after being hit by a car in 2011. His wing was fractured and healed in a way that only allows him limited flight.

Diet

Red-tailed Hawks look for prey from either a high perch or while soaring in the sky.  Once they spot food, they drop down to capture it. They eat small mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles.

Habitat

Red-tailed Hawks prefer open country with some trees, roadsides, fields, woodlots, and mixed forests.

Interesting Facts

  • Red-tailed Hawks play a special role in helping farmers by eating mice, moles and other rodents that destroy crops.
  • They also provide habitat for small birds such as House Sparrows that live in Red-Tailed Hawk nests.
  • Red-tailed Hawks are the most common hawks we have in West Michigan, and people often see them in trees by expressways.
  • Interestingly, it takes two years for Red-tailed Hawks to develop the red tail feathers that give them their name. Buddy grew in his first reddish tail feathers after being with us for a year, so we know that he was a year old when he was admitted.

Species Conservation and Management

Status of Red-Tailed Hawks in Michigan

Red-tailed Hawks are common and year-round residents in most of the Lower Peninsula.

Threats to Wild Red-Tailed Hawks

There are currently no serious threats to this species.

River

About River

River was brought to Blandford in 2013 after being on the ground for several days, likely due to a car accident. She had an open fracture on her left wing and during the time spent on the ground it had accumulated dirt, debris and dead tissue leading ultimately to her wing being partially amputated. Ospreys are rare to have in captivity since it can be hard to get to them eat, they can be high strung, and they can be clumsy when walking around because of their reversible outer toe.

Diet

The main staple in an Osprey’s diet is fish. You can find them angling for a catch as they soar above bodies of water looking for a fish that is close to the surface so they can dive in to grab it.

Habitat

Ospreys settle around nearly any body of water: saltmarshes, rivers, ponds, reservoirs, estuaries, and even coral reefs. Their conspicuous stick nests are placed in the open on poles, channel markers, and dead trees, often over water. Look for Osprey throughout Michigan’s summers along the Grand River!

Interesting Facts

  • An Osprey may log more than 160,000 migration miles during its 15-to-20-year lifetime. During 13 days in 2008, one Osprey flew 2,700 miles—from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to French Guiana, South America.
  • Ospreys are unusual among hawks as they possess a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the birds’ feet help them grip slippery fish. When flying with prey, an osprey lines up its catch head first for less wind resistance.
  • Given their common name of Fish Hawk, ospreys are excellent anglers. Over several studies, ospreys caught fish on at least 1 in every 4 dives, with success rates sometimes as high as 70 percent.
  • Ospreys have many unique adaptations that allow them to fish for their food. In order to dive up to 3 feet to catch a fish, they have slit-like, closeable nostrils and dense feathers on their chest that protect them when hitting the water.

Species Conservation and Management

Status of Ospreys in Michigan

Ospreys are migratory birds of prey, arriving in Michigan throughout the summer for breeding habitat. Ospreys are typically seen around the many bodies of water Michigan has to offer and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 as they migrate between North and South America.

Threats to Wild Ospreys

In the early 1950s, osprey numbers crashed when pesticides poisoned the birds and thinned the shells of their eggs. About 90 percent of  osprey breeding pairs disappeared between the New York City and Boston coastline alone. Studies on declining osprey populations were used to provide key support for legal arguments against the use of persistent pesticides. After the 1972 U.S. DDT ban, populations rebounded, and the osprey became a conservation success symbol. According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, their populations grew by about 2.5 percent per year from 1966 to 2010. However,  heavy use of pesticides on its winter range in Central and South America still threaten the osprey.