General Question

lilikoi's avatar

What's the difference between hawks, eagles, hawk eagles and can you ID this bird?

Asked by lilikoi (10028 points ) April 1st, 2010

I’ve noticed that they all have distinctive looks, but what is the technical difference beyond this?

Can anyone identify this bird? Here is the picture of it – I think it a hawk.

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12 Answers

Scooby's avatar

Looks like a buzzard to me!

silverfly's avatar

I think it’s a hawk too. I think eagles are generally larger in size which would be the biggest distinction. And then there’s also falcons which I think are even harder to tell from hawks.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I think it is a tawny eagle. The photo caption says it was taken in Kenya, and that is the closest match I could find in my bird book.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@ben-syz-drew Might be a juvenile of either of those. I still lean toward Tawny as that is the more common.

Trillian's avatar

I don’t think it’s an eagle. if you look at the beak, then look at the beak of a picture of a tawny eagle, you can see that the “hook” is far more pronounced. This bird, called the Yellow headed Caracara looks a more likely candidate. Notice the shape of the beak, and the same coloring around beak and eyes.

lilikoi's avatar

I don’t think it’s the tawny because the one in my pic has a yellow ring around its eye whereas the tawny does not appear to…I don’t think it is the Yellow-headed caracara because it looks like a smaller bird (not sure), and is not found in Kenya as far as I can tell from the Wikipedia article. The eye is a closer match than the tawny, though… I’ll keep lookin. Looking at other pics I have of this bird, its beak is yellowish and gradients into a black color at the tip.

lilikoi's avatar

Never mind, I now agree with @WestRiverrat and think it is a tawny eagle. I found this picture which looks remarkably similar to my photo. You can’t see the hook of the beak very well in my photo since it is look straight at the camera. But from other photos, it seems to be in the same proportion to the rest of the beak as the photo linked in this post, the coloring of the beak seems to match, as does the nostril shape. I thought for a second it was a Wahlberg eagle, but they have much rounder nostrils it looks like. I’m not sure why the perimeter of the eye in my photos looks yellow…

gailcalled's avatar

It is unquestionably not a buzzard, who has no head feathers. Without seeing the wings spread out and the coloration, it’s tough to ID what kind of hawk.

All the guys with the sharp, meat-eating beaks are called raptors. There are dozens of varieties and sizes…from the tiny pigmy falcon to the eagles, condors and ospreys

lilikoi's avatar

Thanks @gailcalled. It sure is tough! There seem to be about a dozen eagles found in Kenya that all look very similar. I was just looking at the Aquila heliaca which seems to match the beak/nostrils/face better than the Tawny but the feather coloring sounds completely different unless the juveniles are all brown, but that is not what it sounds like. Ugh, I am ready to give up :)

gailcalled's avatar

@lilikoi: I hope you are having a wonderful time in Kenya. My bird books cover only the birds of North America so I know nothing about the raptors in the other parts of the world.

But I would be birding if I were in Kenya. Have you tried listening to the calls the birds make? Sometimes that helps narrow things down.

lilikoi's avatar

@gailcalled Thanks! I wish I were still in Kenya :) I went in 2008, and am still sorting through photos. I wish I could have listened to bird calls. We focused mainly on the mammals while there (no one else was interested in birds), so the photos I got of birds were by chance and we didn’t stick around long enough to hear their calls :( I’d like to go back though. There is a lot of wildlife to see there.

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