Other Raptors

There are several other birds of prey often lumped in with hawks and falcons. However, they are not as closely related from a scientific perspective.

Black Vulture © Phil Brown
Black Vulture © Phil Brown
 
Turkey Vulture © Dominic Poliseno
Turkey Vulture © Dominic Poliseno
 
Northern Harrier © Jack Kerivan
Northern Harrier © Jack Kerivan
 
         
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
 
Osprey in flight © Tim Johnson
Osprey © Tim Johnson
   
           

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

The black vulture is similar to the more common turkey vulture, but is quickly identified by its white wingtips. Although it is still uncommon in most of the state, there are areas in western Massachusetts where it is routinely seen and may well be breeding.

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

The profile of the turkey vulture is distinctive as it soars overhead: it soars with a pronounced dihedral (it lifts its wings above the body) and rocks back and forth in the air currents. It is one of the earliest migrants to Massachusetts, often showing up in late February.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Also known as “fish hawk”, the osprey is now a relatively common breeder along the coast. It feeds almost exclusively on fish, and can be seen hovering over the water then spectacularly diving to capture its prey. With its dramatic black-and-white plumage and long wings, it is unmistakable.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

The bald eagle was once extirpated from Massachusetts, but in 1982 a hacking program was initiated at Quabbin Reservoir and in 1989 two pairs of eagles were the first to nest in the state in over 75 years. Adults show the iconic white head and tail, but young birds do not reach adulthood until their fourth year and are overall dark with varying patches of white.

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

The northern harrier is most often seen in flight as it flies low over open country. Its owl-like face and white rump patch are the best field marks.