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What are some key factors to hawk identification?

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Quick Answer

Hawks are identifiable by their body shapes, proportions, wing shape and flight characteristics. Hawks are birds of prey found in most parts of the world. They can be small to medium-sized birds, and there are three general types of hawks: buteos, accipiters and falcons.

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Full Answer

All hawks have very keen eyesight and powerful wings. Their colors vary by species, but they tend to be reddish brown on top with white undersides. They usually have a black beak, black talons and yellow feet. Generally, female hawks are larger than their male counterparts. Hawks generally have a high-pitched, piercing whistle as their call, but each hawk species has a distinct call.

Buteos have long, broad wings and wide, fanned tails. They can glide over long distances without flapping their wings and use this capability when hunting for prey. Buteos include the broad-winged hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk and rough-legged hawk.

Acciptiers have long, rudder-like tails and short, round wings. They typically live in forests and maneuver easily in the air, making them well-equipped to handle flying through the trees. Rather than soaring, their flight is characterized by a few flaps and then a short glide. Examples of accipiters include the northern goshawks, sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper’s hawks.

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