June 2, 2017 – Black Caracara (Daptrius ater)
These caracaras are found in northern central South America. Omnivores, they eat carrion, frogs, fish, birds, mammals, insects, and sometimes fruits. They also occasionally pick ticks from deer and tapirs. Spending much of their time alone, in pairs, or in small groups, they are often seen on exposed perches. They build their small nests from sticks in the crowns of trees. Their eggs hatch after about a month of incubation.
May 17, 2017 – Black-and-white Hawk-eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus, formerly Spizastur melanoleucus)
These hawk-eagles are found in a variety of forested habitats in Mexico, Central America, and eastern and central South America. Their diet is made up of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and other birds, including toucans and falcons. Generally solitary, they fly near the forest canopy, dropping down onto their prey from above. Due to their low population density, individuals are uncommon in their large range and are threatened by habitat loss, though they are classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN. Little is known about their breeding habits, but a stick nest, placed high in a tree, has been observed.
April 25, 2017 – Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) Juvenile
Requested by: @marigoldfaucet
Found only on the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, these hawks have become extinct on five islands. They prey on invertebrates, small lizards, snakes, and tortoise and sea turtle hatchlings, and also eat carrion and food scraps from humans. Nesting at any time of year, females form groups with several males, breeding with all of them and raising the chicks together in a system known as “cooperative polyandry.” They build nests in low branches or on the ground from grass, bark, leaves, and other materials, reusing them for several years. Classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, they are at risk due to persecution from humans, competition for food with introduced predators, and their small range.
April 9, 2017 – Pearl Kite (Gampsonyx swainsonii)
These small raptors are found from southern Central America to much of central and eastern South America. They eat mostly lizards, along with other small vertebrates including frogs and birds, and some large insects. Hunting from conspicuous perches, or sometimes from the air, they dive onto their prey. Pairs build insubstantial nests from twigs, high in trees, repairing them with new twigs as the chicks age. Females do most of the incubation, while males bring food to the nest.
April 1, 2017 – Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
These kestrels are found in Europe and northern Asia, migrating to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter. Their excellent eyesight helps them hunt for small mammals, diving from the air or a perch onto their prey. Social birds, they often travel and roost in large flocks, but tend to migrate singly or in smaller flocks. Nesting in colonies, they lay their eggs in depressions scraped into trees. Females spend more time incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks than males, while the males fight to defend the nesting territory. Though they are classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN, they face threats from habitat loss and degradation, reductions in prey due to pesticide contamination, and hunting and egg stealing.
March 8, 2017 – Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, or Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus)
Requested by: @zyxyz-xyzzy
These Old World vultures are found in parts of Eurasia, the Middle East, and northern Africa. Their diet is almost entirely carrion from large mammals. In the past they fed on wild animals, such as deer, gazelles, and mountain goats, but in recent years these have been displaced by domestic species. The vultures are now mostly dependent on domesticated mammals, such as cows and sheep, for food. Pairs are monogamous and often stay together for life. They build their nests on cliffs in small colonies usually made up of around 15 to 20 pairs, but sometimes containing as many as 150. Both parents incubate the single egg and care for the chick.
January 23, 2017 – African Pygmy Falcon or Pygmy Falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus)
Requested by: @hearthawk
Found in eastern and southern Africa, these tiny falcons are less than eight inches (20 centimeters) long. They eat large insects and small reptiles and rodents, spotting their prey from a perch before swooping down onto it and also hunting insects in flight. Usually nesting in empty weaver bird nests, both parents care for the chicks and are sometimes assisted by chicks from a previous brood. Somewhat unusually for raptors, males and females have different plumage. Females have a brownish patch on their backs while males’ backs are grey.