HAWK MIGRATIONS: Identifying

Lots of birds are migrating south this month, including hawks and other birds of prey. Today, some tips on how to identify a hawk. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

“This is an interesting problem. If one is new to birds, how does one identify a hawk? If so many people want to see them, well how can I distinguish it from a seagull which is the bird that most people see up in the skies. Or a pigeon or a crow? What makes it a hawk? The way to look for hawks up there is to look for a bird that’s not flapping its wings. If its a gull, it’s flapping its wings. If it’s a crow it’s definitely flapping its wings. Pigeons — out and out flyers, from the shoulder out to the wrist, flapping. So hawks, generally, mostly, don’t flap their wings.”

Robert DeCandido is the Chief Naturalist of New York City’s Urban Park Rangers. He says an easy way to tell if there’s a hawk in the area is to listen for the sound of other birds mobbing.

“Mobbing is something that smaller birds do to make themselves and other birds around them aware that there’s something different or dangerous in the environment. So whenever that hawk appears nearby or is perched in a tree they begin clucking and making sounds and calling. And blue jays add to that the wonderful advantage of being able to have the audacity to dive at the hawk’s head. And when several birds are doing this at once, it has the cumulative effect of moving the hawk several feet or entirely out of the area. Crows have a series of different calls that they not only bring in other crows with, but they warn of an approaching hawk. Or they tell the hawk that, ‘You’re moving through the neighborhood that I’m nesting in.’ When you have fifty, sixty, seventy crows around you cawing at once, this is impressive to watch.”

So, the next time you hear this sound, there’s a pretty good chance there’ll be a hawk nearby. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

HAWK MIGRATIONS: Identifying

Some tips on how to identify a hawk.
Air Date:10/29/1997
Scientist:
Transcript:

Lots of birds are migrating south this month, including hawks and other birds of prey. Today, some tips on how to identify a hawk. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

"This is an interesting problem. If one is new to birds, how does one identify a hawk? If so many people want to see them, well how can I distinguish it from a seagull which is the bird that most people see up in the skies. Or a pigeon or a crow? What makes it a hawk? The way to look for hawks up there is to look for a bird that's not flapping its wings. If its a gull, it's flapping its wings. If it's a crow it's definitely flapping its wings. Pigeons -- out and out flyers, from the shoulder out to the wrist, flapping. So hawks, generally, mostly, don't flap their wings."

Robert DeCandido is the Chief Naturalist of New York City's Urban Park Rangers. He says an easy way to tell if there's a hawk in the area is to listen for the sound of other birds mobbing.

"Mobbing is something that smaller birds do to make themselves and other birds around them aware that there's something different or dangerous in the environment. So whenever that hawk appears nearby or is perched in a tree they begin clucking and making sounds and calling. And blue jays add to that the wonderful advantage of being able to have the audacity to dive at the hawk's head. And when several birds are doing this at once, it has the cumulative effect of moving the hawk several feet or entirely out of the area. Crows have a series of different calls that they not only bring in other crows with, but they warn of an approaching hawk. Or they tell the hawk that, 'You're moving through the neighborhood that I'm nesting in.' When you have fifty, sixty, seventy crows around you cawing at once, this is impressive to watch."

So, the next time you hear this sound, there's a pretty good chance there'll be a hawk nearby. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.