Backyard Wildlife: Raptor

Posted on December 4, 2007  Comments (17)

photo of bird of prey

This bird of prey was eating some unfortunate animal in my yard today. You can see some remains if you look very closely at the birds feet in the photo. The bird in the picture is surprisingly small; other raptors I have seen have all been much larger. Anyone know what type of bird it is? Please add a comment.

Other wildlife I have spotted in my backyard include: humming bird, raccoon, chipmunks, fox, possum, rabbits, turtle, many birds including hawks and/or falcons, cardinals, doves, butterflies, bats, lightning bugs, all sorts of bees, squirrels, praying mantis and ants. I also see several cats prowl the yard frequently.

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17 Responses to “Backyard Wildlife: Raptor”

  1. Sean Stickle
    December 4th, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

    It’s a Merlin.

    The site gives a nice little wizard to identify birds.

  2. Susan Sharma
    December 6th, 2007 @ 5:06 am

    It looks similar to the raptor called “Shikra” which comes to my backyard for hunting sparrows. When Shikra is around all birds esply sparrows get into a huddle making very low, almost inaudible, sounds.

  3. Mike Myers
    January 29th, 2008 @ 5:47 pm

    I just came across this website. i hate to disagree with Sean Stickle, but the bird is without question a sharpshinned hawk. A merlin would have thin white bands against a black background on the tail, not dark gray on lighter gray. Plus, the white spots on back of the retrices are typical of sharpshins, as is the rusty area at the base of the neck and the cottony undertail feathers (typical of all the accipiters (sharpshins, Cooper’s hawks,and goshawks). The wings are also not quite long or pointed enough, either. But the best field mark is the eye color. Merlins have dark brown to black irises; sharpshins have yellow, orange or deep red irises with a dark brown or black pupils (this can’t be used as an exact manner to age acccipioters, but in general, younger birds have black in yellow), older birds, black within orange, or black within deep garnet (usually a bird at least 4 years old… but again, it’s not a foolproof way to age the birds) But ALL sharpshins have black surrounded by yellow, orange or deep red. Merlins have all black or dark brown eyes… no yellow, no orange and no garnet.
    The next time you’re in a bookstore, take a look as some of the plates in either of the wonderful and encyclopedic books by Brian Wheeler (“Guide to Western Raptors” and Guide to Eastern Raptors”). it will take you all of about 5 seconds to see that the bird in question is indeed a sharpshin, not a merlin. Merlins also have a light supercilium (line above the eyes) and often, but not always a malar stripe (mustache). You may see a sharpshin with a faint supercilium from time to time, but it isn’t anywhere as pronounced as that of a merlin.

    We have several shins and 2 merlins visiting our backyard house sparrow and house finch smorgasbord on a nearly daily basis. In fact i took a low quality shot of a merlin chasing off a bemused magpie from the roof of the house behind ours here in Montana.

    Hope this helps.

    Nice shot!

  4. Paul
    March 28th, 2008 @ 12:47 pm

    You are very lucky to have such a variety of wildlife in your yard. My office overlooks my garden and I have my camera at the ready to take similar photos when the opportunity arises. We get squirrels, jays, magpies, blue-tits, long-tailed tits and the more common birds (sparrows, thrushes).

  5. Curious Cat » Backyard Wildlife: Birds
    May 4th, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

    The last few days a bird like this one has been chasing a crow in my yard (unfortunately I have not been able to get an action picture of that)…

  6. Save Money on Food at Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog
    June 15th, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

    it is great to just go grab some fresh food and eat it. It tastes great and is healthy. The increasing price of food it makes it more attractive…

  7. April
    July 2nd, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

    I haven’t a clue what it is but I always get a thrill from seeing birds of prey. There are a lot more buzards around here nowadays but I still love to see them floating about or sitting on top of a telegraph pole.

  8. Judy
    July 7th, 2008 @ 6:26 am

    As far as I know, we see neither merlins nor shins here on Guernsey … he have comparatively few birds of prey here. We do see several species of owl, and I’ve also seen a eurasion sparrowhawk on occasion.

    As another commenter said, you’re fortunate to have such a profusion of wildlife in your back garden.

  9. CuriousCat - Backyard Wildlife: Dragonfly
    August 24th, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

    The variety of insects you can see can be amazing, especially if you don’t use poisons and chemicals in your yard…

  10. Curious Cat Science Blog Backyard Wildlife Raptor | Garden Benches
    May 12th, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

    […] Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog Backyard Wildlife Raptor. Other wildlife i have spotted in my backyard include humming bird or […]

    (update – link bad so removed July 2012)

  11. Birding News
    November 25th, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

    Very good shot there, lovely bird.

  12. Octavio Paz
    February 19th, 2010 @ 9:36 am

    That’s a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

  13. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Backyard Wildlife: Hawk
    June 30th, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

    […] great – including links to an identification page would be appreciated too. Last time people helped identify a Sharp-shinned Hawk enjoying a meal. Enjoying nature in your back yard is a wonderful […]

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    November 21st, 2011 @ 7:08 am

    Make it fun to learn. Kids have an intrinsic motivation to learn. Keeping their curiosity alive is the first step…

  15. Reggie
    December 4th, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

    What an amazing bird..
    our wildlife is so beautiful and we must keep it for our children@!
    i hope you found a type of bird..

  16. Backyard Wildlife: 2 Raptors Over Johor Bahru, Malaysia » Curious Cat Science Blog
    July 24th, 2012 @ 3:45 am

    These two raptors were majestic as they glided over the skies…

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    September 27th, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

    But a few days later I saw new evidence of a deer eating some small trees in my backyard – though I wasn’t sure if I missed it before. Then a couple nights later I saw a deer grazing after dark in my backyard…

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