About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Birds of prey: Hawk vs. Falcon

File:Accipiter striatus Randolphville.jpg
Sharp-shinned Hawk
What’s the difference between a hawk and a falcon?

Hawks and falcons are both birds of prey that hunt rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some insects.  Both are in the order Falconiformes but hawks, eagles and kites are in the family Accipitridae while falcons are placed in the family Falconidae.

Both have powerful talons and beaks, which help them in killing and eating the flesh of their prey. However hawks tend to be larger than falcons. They generally perch and pounce on prey with the sharp talons on their feet. The Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks are common in most mid-Michigan yards.

File:American Kestrel on the hunt.jpg
American Kestrel
Falcons are smaller, fly at very high speeds and alter directions easily because their wings are tapered and thin. They prefer to search the ground below while flying and grab their prey with their beaks. They have a "tooth" on the side of their beak for the purpose while hawks have a simple curve on the beak. The American Kestrel is the most common falcon in Michigan and can be found near farms with open fields. 

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