Raptor Wednesday

Backyard and Beyond

It was a crazy day. Raptors filled the air. An exaggeration, yes, but not by much. At one moment, there nine different raptors overhead, mostly Buteos and Accipiters. I’ve never seen so much activity above Brooklyn before. One of the birds was this juvenile Northern Harrier. The long tail, angled wings, buffy red breast, and especially the barely seen detail of the owl-like face help in on-the-fly identification.Here’s an adult Red-shouldered Hawk. And a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, which doesn’t have the rich red belly yet. Another view of juvenile Red-shouldered: look for the the “windows” on the outer primaries; the thin barring on the tail; the absence of dark patagium (the leading edge of the wing from the throat to the bend of carpel), which means it isn’t a Red-tailed Hawk. The juvenile Northern Harrier does have a red belly. But look how different its silhouette is from the…

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