There was an amazing site in the sky above today. Three different birds of prey were circling overhead. There was a smaller bird that I couldn’t identify because of the height, flying with them.

One bird was a Turkey Vulture. We often see Turkey Vultures because we have an ever growing flock of Wild Turkeys in our area. You can identify a Turkey Vulture by its dark shape and small head. Turkey Vultures have black feathers and a naked (featherless) red head.  I think they are one of the ugliest birds created.

A Turkey Vulture is an American Vulture of the Family Cathartidae. They are blackish, eagle-like birds, often seem soaring high in wide circles. Their naked heads are smaller than those of hawks and eagles. Vultures eat carrion, dead animals. 

One of the other birds was a Red-Tailed Hawk, a year-round resident of  northern California. You can identify a Red-Tailed Hawk flying overhead by its red tail feathers as the light shines through them. They are a large, brown broad-winged, wide-tailed hawk.  They are a Buteos or Buzzard Hawk. They eat rodents, rabbits, sometimes small birds,  reptiles, and grasshoppers. 

The third bird of prey was a Red-Shouldered Hawk. They have a wide tail and broad wings. Adults have rufous shoulders and robin-red underparts. In flight they can be identified by the translucent patch or “window” at the base of the primary wing feathers. These hawks are also year-round residents of this part of northern California.

Red-Shouldered-Hawks are also Buteos or Buzzard Hawks, eating rodents, rabbits, sometimes small birds, reptiles, and grasshoppers.

Although not one of the birds of prey sited today, Cooper’s Hawks are year-round residents. They are a short-winged, long-tailed hawk. They have a blackish crown; overall color is lighter than other hawks described above. The immature Cooper’s Hawk has a brown streaked breast and a white belly. Cooper’s Hawks are Accipiters or Bird Hawks. They are long-tailed raptors with rounded wings, adapted for hunting among the trees. Flights consists of several quick beats and a glide. They eat birds and some small mammals. The Cooper’s Hawk is the kind of bird that swoops through my backyard and grabs the feeder birds. Occasionally I see one sitting on my birdbath.