Female raptors are usually bigger than male raptors. Do you know why? Scientists aren’t sure, but whatever the reason, females can be one-third times bigger than males. In fact, this is why male falcons are called "tiercels", because they are one-third smaller than female falcons!
Eagles are big, powerful, broad-winged birds. In fact, eagles are bigger than all other birds of prey except for vultures. Eagles are symbols of power and majesty. Is it any wonder that our national bird is the Bald Eagle?
Only two species are native to North America, and sadly, both are rare in Michigan. You are very lucky indeed if you can look up and see an eagle soaring in the sky!
Fun fact: when our Founding Fathers were deciding upon a national bird, not everyone was happy that the Bald Eagle was chosen. Bejamin Franklin thought that the turkey was a much better choice, because it is a bird native to America, and because he thought the turkey is a brave bird. What do you think?
Eagles in Michigan
- Bald eagle
- Golden eagle
Owl have large, round heads and faces that look to the front. They have wide wings, short tails, lightweight bodies, and soft, fluffy feathers. Owls go hunting at night, and they use their great vision and hearing to catch mice and other small animals.
While owls can’t really turn their head all the way around their neck, they can turn it 135 degrees! How far can you turn your head?
Fun fact: Touch your ears. Notice how they’re the same distance from your nose on either side? Owls’ ears are placed differently, so that they hear where sounds are coming from better. Also, owls have a circle of feathers around their face, called a ‘facial disc’. It’s used to make all sounds go to the ear, like water down a funnel. No wonder owls can hear so well!
Owls in Michigan
- Barn owl
- Barred owl
- Western screech owl
are smaller birds with short broad rounded wings and a long tail. They have
long legs and long sharp talons they use to kill their prey and a sharp hooked
bill to eat with.
They ambush their prey, dive-bombing it and catching it while it is surprised.
Sharp-shinned hawks are quite common here in Michigan. They are often mixed up with the Cooper's Hawk, which is a little bigger and a lot less common. In fact, Cooper's Hawks are on Michigan's "special concern list", which means that it might become Threatened or Endangered if we're not careful.
Fun fact: Birds of prey, such as hawks, can see two or three times better than we can. Look through a pair of binoculars as far as you can. While it will probably be a little farther than a hawk can see, you can get an idea of just how good their eyesight is!
Hawks in Michigan
- Sharp-shinned hawk
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Rough-legged Hawk
- Cooper's Hawk
- Red-shouldered Hawk
- Northern Goshawk
Want a fun project involving hawks?
Click here to find out how!
© 2007 by Angel Chen