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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

Bobbi the American Kestrel

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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.

Falco the American Kestrel

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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.

American Kestrels eats large insects, mice, small birds, and amphibians.

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

This species is a year-round resident in Michigan. Currently, there are no serious threats to American Kestrel populations.

  • 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.

Buddy the Red-Tailed Hawk

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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.

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.

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

Red-tailed Hawks are common and year-round residents in most of the Lower Peninsula. There are currently no serious threats to this species.

  • Red-tailed Hawks are the most common hawks we have in West Michigan, and people often see them in trees by expressways.
  • 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.

River the Osprey

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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 and they are clumsy when walking around because of their reversible outer toe.

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.

Ospreys settle around nearly any body of water: marshes, 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.

Ospreys are migratory birds of prey, arriving in Michigan throughout the summer for breeding habitat. Ospreys are seen around the many bodies of water and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. In the early 1950s, osprey numbers crashed when pesticides poisoned the birds and thinned the shells of their eggs. 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.

  • An Osprey may log more than 160,000 migration miles during its 15-to-20-year lifetime.
  • 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.