With prominent hooked bills, large powerful talons, incredible speed and keen eyesight these deadly predators of the skies fill legends and folklore with tales of their might.
It’s easy to see why we want to get a look at these majestic birds and this guide will help you identify all the birds of prey in Alaska by sight and sound.
Birds of prey are made up of two orders of birds, the Falconiformes, and Strigiformes. Falconiformes are also known as raptors and include eagles, condors, kites, hawks, vultures, kites, and osprey. Strigiformes are known as owls.
Alaska has 29 birds of prey that have been spotted here which includes owls, eagles, hawks, vultures, falcons, kites, and osprey.
Birds of prey hunt and eat other animals, mainly mammals, reptiles, and smaller birds, but some also hunt fish. Most hunt in the diurnal and hunt in the day, except owls which are mostly nocturnal and hunt at night.
Check out all the birds of prey you can spot in Alaska
29 Birds Of Prey In Alaska
1. Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owls are mainly spotted in Alaska during migration but some stay during winter along the southern coast.
Short-eared Owls are aptly named because they do have short ear tufts, hardly visible except when in a defensive pose.
They are medium-sized, with a large, round, pale facial disk bordered in white. Their eyes are yellow and outlined in black. Their bills are short, hooked, and black.
Their backs and wings are light and dark brown and white mottling. The upper breast is heavily streaked with dark brown, but the chests and bellies are pale or buffy. Their tails are also barred with dark brown.
- Asio flammeus
- Length: 13.4 – 16.9 in (34 – 43 cm)
- Weight: 7.3 – 16.8 oz (206 – 475 g)
- Wingspan: 33.5 – 40.5 in (85 – 103 cm)
Short-eared owls that breed in Canada and Alaska usually migrate to the US for winter, but many remain all year in northern US states.
You can find Short-eared Owls everywhere in the world except for Antarctica and Australia. They particularly like uninhabited areas since they nest and roost on the ground, such as open prairies, coastal grasslands, tundra, marshes, and dunes.
Unlike most owls, Short-eared Owls hunt during the day, mostly at dawn and dusk, timing their hunt when voles are especially active.
They fly low over the ground looking and listening for movement from their prey of small mammals such as voles and mice.
They also eat birds like gulls and shorebirds, and usually take off the wings of the birds before they eat them.
Short-eared Owls calls: They are relatively quiet, but they make a series of continuous hoots and also scream, bark and whine.
Nests of Short-eared Owls are built by scraping the ground into a bowl and lining it with grass and soft feathers. They are usually concealed among tall grasses and low plants, and the female lays four to seven eggs but may lay more if their prey is abundant. Incubation is around four to five weeks.
Fun Fact: Short-eared owls are not very vocal, but during courtship, the males will make about a dozen hoots, and they may bark, whine or scream when defending the nest.
2. Snowy Owl
Snowy Owls breed in Alaska, mainly around the northern coast, from June to October. They are recorded in 1% of summer checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.
Male Snowy Owls are either white all over or have a small amount of brown spots.
Female Snowy Owls have flecks of dark brown to black on their backs, wings, and flanks, unlike the more white males. They also have thicker and more complete barring on their tails compared to the males.
Snowy Owls have bright yellow eyes, and their legs and feet are fully covered with feathers to protect them from the cold, harsh weather of the Arctic. They have thick dark bars on their wingtips but incomplete bars on their tails.
Juveniles have extensive brown barring all over their bodies except their faces, underwings, legs, and feet.
- Bubo scandiacus
- Length: 20.5-27.9 in (52-71 cm)
- Weight: 56.4-104.1 oz (1600-2950 g)
- Wingspan: 49.6-57.1 in (126-145 cm)
Snowy Owls breed in the arctic around the world, including the north of Canada, and migrate to southern Canada and northern US states.
You can find Snowy Owls in open Arctic tundra and prefer to situate themselves in areas with vantage points like hummocks, ridges, knolls, and bluffs so that they can keep a close watch on their surroundings.
Grassy meadows and marshes are favorite areas for hunting. However, they may move southward for the winter when prey is lacking. They may visit coastal dunes, lakeshores, prairies, and other shrubby environments that are similar to what they have in the Arctic.
Snowy Owls are diurnal, unlike most other owls, and spend the 24-hour summer daylight hunting in the arctic.
They hunt small mammals, especially lemmings, and can eat 1600 in a year.
They also catch birds in flight, such as ptarmigan or waterfowl. In winter, they will eat rodents, rabbits, squirrels, and birds such as ducks and geese.
Snowy Owls calls: They make a strong raspy Hoo sound. They also hoot, whistle, and hiss if threatened.
Nests of Snowy Owls are just scraped, shallow hollows in the ground on one of the raised areas of the tundra. They pick a windswept rise that will be blown free of snow and reuse the nest for many years.
The nests themselves have no insulating materials. The female lays three to eleven eggs at 2-day intervals. Incubation begins as soon as the first egg is laid. Both parents feed the chicks, with the female turning their food into bite-sized pieces.
Fun Fact: The Snowy Owl is also known as the Arctic Owl, the Polar Owl, and the White Owl.
3. Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owls are residents of Alaska all year and occur in up to 2% of checklists.
Great Horned Owls are one of the most common owls in North America.
Their most unique physical characteristic is their “Great Horns” which aren’t really horns but ear tufts. They’re tufts of feathers that they use as camouflage to make them appear like branches of trees.
They have grayish to reddish-brown faces, large yellow eyes outlined in black, and their hooked bills are dark gray.
The coloring and patterns of Great Horned Owls are also mainly for camouflage. Their backs and wings are mottled with gray, brown, black, or white. They can be darker or lighter depending on the region they are from and are smaller in the south than in the north.
Juveniles have white, cinnamon, or gray fluffy feathers that make them look “puffed up”. Their barring is less visible, and their ear tufts are smaller and hardly seen.
- Bubo virginianus
- Length: 18.1 – 24.8 in (46 – 63 cm)
- Weight: 32.1 – 88.2 oz (910 – 2500 g)
- Wingspan: 39.8 – 57.1 in (101 – 145 cm)
Great Horned Owls are widespread throughout North America and do not migrate.
You can find Great Horned Owls in almost any environment in North America. As long as they have nesting sites, roosting sites, and an abundance of prey, they will be able to adapt to forests, deserts, grasslands, or cities.
Their varied diet includes small rodents such as mice, skunks, geese, and hares. They will also eat insects, fish, and carrion.
Great Horned also hunt other raptors such as Ospreys, Peregrine falcons, or other owls.
They hunt from a perch, scanning their territory and swooping down to capture their prey with their strong talons. They will also hunt from the ground or wade in the water.
Great Horned Owls: The distinctive 5-note Hoo call of the Great Horned Owl is made by both males and females, but females are higher pitched. They also make various whistles, shrieks, hisses, and coos.
Nests of Great Horned Owls are usually in trees, and they often use an old nest from another species. They line the nest with bark, leaves, downy feathers, or pellets but sometimes leave it unlined. The female lays up to four eggs that are incubated for around a month.
Fun Fact: Great Horned Owls are the crows’ number one enemy. Crows will usually mob Great Horned Owls in their nests, and that is one of the best ways to find them.
4. Northern Hawk Owl
Northern Hawk Owls are resident in Alaska all year.
Northern Hawk Owls have white faces that are outlined by thick black lines, and their eyes and bills are yellow. Their backs and wings are brown with white spots.
Their breasts and bellies are white with horizontal brown stripes, and their tails are long and brown with white horizontal lines. Their legs and feet are fully feathered.
Juveniles have the same features, except that they’re paler and fluffier.
- Surnia ulula
- Length: 14.5 – 17.5 in (37 – 44 cm)
- Weight: 10.5 oz (298 g)
- Wingspan: 33 in (84 cm)
Northern Hawk Owls do not migrate and are mainly resident in the cold north in Canada and Alaska.
You can find Northern Hawk Owls in open pine and spruce forests or those mixed with larch, birch, poplar, and willow. They also favor burned areas of forests because these are good nesting sites.
Northern Hawk Owls primarily feed on mammals, particularly voles, during the summer. During the winter, they shift their diet to eating ground-dwelling birds, like ptarmigan and grouse.
Unlike most owls, Northern Hawk Owls are day hunters
Northern Hawk Owls calls:
Nests of Northern Hawk Owls are usually on broken, open tree stumps or in abandoned woodpecker holes or decayed hollows. Both parents scout their nesting area and prefer locations in open forests with scattered trees, usually near the water.
The female lays up to thirteen eggs and incubates them for about a month while the male looks for food to feed her. Once the eggs hatch, parenting roles shift.
The female is then the one who hunts, and the male tends to the nest. When the young leave the nest, the female once again takes over tending duties, but the male will still be around to provide food for his family.
Fun Fact: Northern Hawk Owls have ‘hawk’ in their name because they look hawk-like and hunt in the day.
5. Boreal Owl
Boreal Owls are mainly spotted in the southeast of Alaska and although there are occasional sightings all year, they are spotted most from February to April. They appear in 1% of checklists at this time.
The Boreal Owl is a rather small owl with a large square head.
Adult Boreal Owls are generally brown. They have white spots on their heads and back. Their faces are grayish or whitish, bordered by black or brown.
They have bright, yellow eyes and light yellow beaks. Their bellies are white but with vertical, brown streaking.
Adults look similar, but females are heavier. Juveniles are chocolate brown, and they don’t have white spots on the crown and back.
- Aegolius funereus
- Length: 9 – 10 in (23 – 25 cm)
- Weight: 3.6 oz (102 g)
- Wingspan: 20 – 26 in (51 – 66 cm)
Boreal Owls do not migrate and predominantly live in Canada and northwestern US states.
You can find Boreal Owls, as their name suggests, in the boreal or northern coniferous forests of North America.
They normally live in forests or high-elevation mountains with spruce, aspen, poplar, birch, and fir trees.
Boreal Owls are night-hunters, but in some areas, like those where nights are short, they have no choice but to hunt in daylight.
They hunt small mammals, birds, and insects, waiting from their perches and attacking them with their talons. They normally feed on voles, mice, shrews, bats, frogs, and squirrels.
Boreal Owl Calls: Male Boreal Owls sing a series of whistled toots. They also make short calls.
Nests of Boreal Owls are made by males, and then females choose from among the nest sites that he shows her. These nests are often old woodpeckers’ holes.
The female lays three to seven eggs and starts incubating them after the 2nd egg is laid for around a month. The male brings food to the female all throughout the nesting period.
Attracting Boreal Owls to your backyard is possible with nest boxes as will often use them in the absence of natural cavities in trees.
Fun Fact: One ear opening of Boreal Owls is much higher than the other to help them judge the distance and height of sound to find prey.
6. Northern Saw-whet Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owls mainly spend winter in Alaska, from mid-December to April but some can be spotted in the south of the state during the breeding season.
Northern Saw-whet Owls are one of the smallest owls in North America, with them being about the size of a robin.
They have tiny brown bodies but large round heads with fine white streaks. Their eyes are bright yellow with thick white feathers forming a “Y” in between them.
Their backs and wings are brown with white spots. Their chests and bellies are white with brown streaks.
Juveniles have plain brown heads and very visible white eyebrows on brown facial discs. Their underparts are plain cinnamon brown, and they also have no spots on their backs.
- Aegolius acadicus
- Length: 7.1 – 8.3 in (18 – 21 cm)
- Weight: 2.3 – 5.3 oz (65 – 151 g)
- Wingspan: 16.5 – 18.9 in (42 – 48 cm)
Northern Saw-whet Owls are usually resident all year in Canada, northern US states, and western US states. However, they may migrate to lower areas in winter to the rest of the US.
You can find Northern Saw-whet Owls in dense coniferous forests where they roost hidden among the thick branches and foliage. However, they like it near an open area and water source where they hunt.
They are nocturnal, so they hunt mostly mice from a perch at night. They may also eat voles, bats, chipmunks, and squirrels.
Northern Saw-whet Owls calls: A long series of urgent hoo calls.
Nests of Northern Saw-whet Owls are tree cavities that have been left from other species, such as Pileated Woodpeckers. They do not add any other nesting material and instead lay their eggs directly on the debris.
The female lays four to seven eggs that take four weeks to incubate. The male’s job is to bring the female food while she’s incubating.
Attracting Northern Saw-whet Owls to your backyard is possible with a nest box if you are in range and have lots of trees.
Fun Fact: The Northern Saw-whet Owl got its name from its repeated tooting whistle, or the “skiew” sound that it makes when it’s alarmed or threatened. The sound is similar to the whetting of a saw.
7. Great Gray Owl
Great Gray Owls are resident all year in Alaska but they are spotted here more during winter, from late December to March.
The Great Gray Owl deserves the title of “Great” because it has a large head and has the largest facial disk among birds of prey, and a tail that’s a foot long. Its actual body may be small, but its feathers are thick and fluffy, making it look bigger than it really is.
They have long wings and tails, earning them the title “World’s Largest Owl”
Great Gray Owls are generally silvery gray with some pale gray, brown, and white streaks. They have large round heads, small yellow eyes, a hooked bill, and a white collar just under the bill. They do not have any ear tufts.
- Strix nebulosa
- Length: 24 – 33 in (61 – 84 cm)
- Weight: 27.2 oz (771 g)
- Wingspan: 54 – 60 in (137 – 152 cm)
Great Gray Owls do not migrate but may move around in some years looking for food. They are resident in Canada, Alaska, northwestern US states, and down the Pacific Coast.
You can find Great Gray Owls in dense, wet, evergreen forests. They usually hunt in open meadows with scattered trees. Bogs are also hunting grounds, and you can find them in mixed pine and oak forests.
Great Gray Owls are night hunters. First, they listen and wait at their perches. When they’ve targeted their prey, they swoop down and capture them, if in the open.
Their large facial disks give them excellent hearing that allows them to identify prey even under two feet of snow.
If their prey is under snow, they “snow-plunge” their way in to grab their prey.
Prey usually includes small mammals like voles, gophers, mice, chipmunks, and lemmings. Sometimes, they may also feast on ducks, jays, and quail.
Great Gray Owl calls: The hoo calls of the Great Gray Owl are made by males and females.
Nests of Great Gray Owls are usually in abandoned stick nests of other large birds, like hawks, ravens, or crows. They don’t build their own nests or add anything else to repair the existing nest.
Female Great Gray Owls may lay two to five eggs but may not nest at all if their food is scarce. However, when the female does lay eggs, she will incubate them for about a month, and it takes about another month for the young to leave the nest.
Fun Fact: Great Gray Owls although they look large they are actually quite small under all those feathers and so only catch small prey such as rodents.
8. Northern Pygmy-Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owls do not migrate and although they are not often spotted in Alaska, some are residents in the southeast of the state all year.
Northern Pygmy-Owls are small and compact, with large round brown heads. Their eyes are yellow, as are their bills. Their backs, wings, and breasts all have white spots on brown feathers, but their bellies are white with dark brown vertical stripes.
One unique feature of Northern Pygmy-Owls is that they have white-bordered black spots at the back of their heads that kind of look like an extra pair of eyes. There are also red morphs and gray morphs.
- Glaucidium californicum
- Length: 7 – 7.5 in (18 – 19 cm)
- Weight: 2/2 oz (62 g)
- Wingspan: 12 in (30 cm)
Northern Pygmy-Owls do not migrate and are resident in western regions from British Columbia down to Mexico.
You can find Northern Pygmy-Owls mostly in forests along streams with fir, spruce, cottonwood, aspen, and other mixed trees.
During winter, it’s possible that Northern Pygmy-Owls may be seen in towns and backyards, hunting songbirds flocking at bird feeders.
Northern Pygmy-Owls are active hunters during the day, adapting a “wait and see” strategy when choosing and tracking their prey.
They feed on small mammals, birds like hummingbirds, chickadees, warblers, and sparrows, and insects like beetles, butterflies, crickets, and dragonflies, which they can sometimes catch in mid-flight.
Northern Pygmy-Owls calls: A series of high ‘toots’.
Nests of Northern Pygmy-Owls are often the abandoned nests of woodpeckers or empty cavities in trees. The female lays up to seven eggs and incubates them for about a month. The male takes care of feeding the female and the chicks once they hatch.
9. Western Screech-Owl
Western Screech-Owls are considered rare or accidental species in Alaska but they do not migrate and some can be spotted in the southeast of the state all year.
Western Screech-Owls are small owls that have squarish heads with dark outlines and visible ear tufts, and they are short-tailed. Their morphs are either gray, brown, or reddish-brown.
They have yellow eyes and yellowish bills. Their upperparts are dotted with white, gray, or brown streaks. Their breasts and bellies are pale with dark, vertical stripes.
Their coloring and pattern enable them to camouflage themselves against the bark of trees.
- Megascops kennicotti
- Length: 7 – 10 in (18 – 25 cm)
- Weight: 5.4 oz (153 g)
- Wingspan: 20 in (51 cm)
Western Screech-owls do not migrate and are resident of western US states, western Canada, and northern Mexico all year.
You can find Western Screech-Owls in environments as high as 6,000 feet. They live in forested areas, open woods with a mixture of pine, oak, and sycamore, and may also be found in the desert, rural fields, and suburban parks and gardens.
Western Screech-Owls are opportunistic feeders and eat small mammals, birds, fish, insects, and even scorpions.
They are wait-and-see predators, taking their time watching from their perch on tree branches and looking out at the ground or water for their prey.
Western Screech-Owls calls: Their distinctive speeding-up hoot sounds like a bouncing ball coming to a stop.
Nests of Western Screech-Owls are usually abandoned nests by woodpeckers or any natural cavities in trees, cliffs, and banks. The female lays two to seven eggs and incubates them for four to five weeks.
When the eggs hatch, the female stays with them for up to three weeks, and then she hunts with the male.
Fun Fact: While roosting during the day, Western Screech-Owls try to blend in with their surroundings, so they press themselves against the tree to be camouflaged against it.
10. Long-eared Owl
Long-eared Owls are extremely rare in Alaska and are considered accidental species in the state. They were last spotted around Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge in 2020.
Long-eared Owls are slender, medium-sized owls known for their obvious ear tufts, hence their name. They look similar to Great Horned Owls but are much smaller, and the ear tufts are closer together.
They have a surprised expression due to their facial disc and mustache-like feathers around their bill.
Their upperparts are mottled gray, brown, white, and buff. Their underparts have a unique cross-barred pattern of varying orange, brown, black, and white. Their tails are white with dark brown barring.
They are darker in eastern US states and lighter in the west.
- Asio otus
- Length: 13.8 – 15.8 in (35 – 40 cm)
- Weight: 7.8 – 15.3 oz (220 – 435 g)
- Wingspan: 35.4 – 39.4 in (90 – 100 cm)
Long-eared Owls breed in Canada and northern US states and migrate to the rest of the US and Mexico for winter. However, some remain resident all year, especially in inland western US states.
You can find Long-eared Owls in wooded areas with dense coniferous or deciduous trees for roosting and near open grasslands for hunting. The thick foliage of these trees helps camouflage them from potential predators.
Small mammals such as voles, mice, young rats, and rabbits are the main prey of Long-eared Owls, but they may also eat small birds
They fly just a few feet off the ground, listening for movement of prey.
Long-eared Owls calls: They are relatively silent owls but make slow, steady ‘whoo’ calls during the breeding season.
Nests of Long-eared Owls are often stick nests abandoned by other species, or they use tree cavities or hollows.
The female lays up to ten eggs and incubates them for about four weeks. It takes around three weeks for the chicks to start “branching” out even though their parents will still feed them at this point.
Fun Fact: Long-eared Owls are rarely heard except during breeding time. They make soft low hoots and whistles, whines, shrieks, and cat-like meows.
11. Flammulated Owl
Flammulated Owls are accidental species in Alaska. They are extremely rare in the state and have only been spotted around the southwest of Hoonah in 2017.
Flammulated Owls are small owls that are either gray or rufous and are well-camouflaged against the trees.
Their heads have a rectangular shape, and they are the only small owls that have dark eyes (the others have yellow eyes). The reddish-brown coloring on their facial disk contrasts against the white eyebrows and dark eyes.
- Psiloscops flammeolus
- Length: 6 – 7 in (15 – 18 cm)
- Weight: 1.9 oz (54 g)
- Wingspan: 13 in (33 cm)
Flammulated Owls breed in western US states, southwestern Canada, and northern Mexico before migrating further south for winter.
You can find Flammulated Owls in forests. They prefer habitats with open, mature trees, especially when there’s an abundance of natural nesting holes.
An unusual trait of Flammulated Owls is that they eat mostly insects, not mammals, particularly moths, crickets, grasshoppers, bugs, and beetles.
Since their preferred habitat is in high treetops, they forage for insects among the trees’ foliage or in the lower shrubs. They may occasionally eat small rodents, which they snatch from the ground.
Flammulated Owls calls: They make a variety of calls, peeps, hisses, and screams. Males also make a low hoot.
Nests of Flammulated Owls are almost always abandoned woodpecker holes. If no woodpecker holes are found, any natural tree cavity will do. They also use nest boxes which are intended to replace the fast-disappearing natural cavities in trees.
Flammulated Owls are monogamous, having one mate for many consecutive breeding seasons.
They also use their previous nest territories. The female lays two to three eggs that take about twenty-three days to hatch. The male cares for the female and brings her food. When the eggs hatch, their parents will still take care of the young owls until they’re five weeks old.
Fun Fact: The Flammulated Owl gets its name from the Latin word “flammeolus” meaning flame-colored or with flame-like markings.
12. Bald Eagle
Bald Eagles can be spotted all year in Alaska, but their numbers increase during winter from mid-September to mid-May. They are recorded in 26% of summer checklists and 35% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.
The Bald Eagle is a widely-recognized bird of prey. It has a white head, yellow eyes, and a large, hooked yellow bill. Its body is chocolate brown, and its legs are yellow, with huge talons.
Females look similar to males, except they’re about 25% larger. Juveniles have dark brown heads and bodies with variable white mottling or streaking until they reach their fifth year.
- Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Length: 34 – 43 in (86 – 109 cm)
- Weight: 168 oz (4761 g)
- Wingspan: 72 – 96 in (183 – 244 cm)
Bald Eagles breed predominantly in Canada and then migrate to the United States for winter. However, some remain resident all year, especially in coastal regions.
You can find the Bald Eagle, during its breeding season, in wetland environments. Open and large bodies of water with plenty of fish are ideal spots.
When they’re nesting, roosting, or perching, Bald Eagles, need tall, mature, and large trees for good visibility and have to have an open structure allowing the Bald Eagles to see the forest floor, and must be near water, especially when nesting.
In the winter, Bald Eagles flock to spots with a lot of perches around unfrozen water with plenty of fish. When there’s no available unfrozen water source, Bald Eagles will congregate in open habitats with medium-sized mammals like in prairies and meadows.
Bald Eagles are opportunistic feeders and will eat what is available in their environment. Their favorite food is fish, and they prefer large ones, like trout and salmon. They may hunt these fish themselves or steal them away from other birds. Sometimes, they also eat carrion (dead) fish.
They also eat medium to large-sized birds, like ducks, herons, owls, and geese. During winter, bald eagles turn to mammals for their prey when fishing for food is not as lucrative. They will initially target weak, dying, or young prey. They hunt rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, beavers, and deer fawns.
Bald Eagle Calls: The squeak of the Bald Eagle does not fit its size as they make a rather disappointing high-pitched whistle!
Nests of Bald Eagles are large and sturdy to be able to withstand their size and weight. They build a stick nest, around 6 feet in diameter and 4 feet high. The male brings the materials such as sticks, grass, moss, and downy feathers, and then the female puts it all together.
Bald Eagles’ nests are considered the largest of any bird in North America.
Females may lay one to three eggs per year in the wild. In captivity, they may lay up to seven eggs. The parents take turns in incubating the eggs for thirty-five days. Whoever is not sitting on the eggs gets to hunt for food to feed the other.
Fun Fact: The Bald Eagle has been the national symbol of America since 1782. It may be named “bald,” but it isn’t actually bald. The old version of “bald” actually meant “white,” referring to its white head and tail.
13. Golden Eagle
Golden Eagles are not very common in Alaska, but they are usually spotted here during summer from March to mid-October. They appear in 1% of summer checklists. However, some stay all year.
Golden Eagles are the most widely distributed eagles in the world. Their crown and nape (neck) are golden-brown and are a sight to behold when in the right light.
Their bodies are darker brown but with pale flight feathers. Their eyes vary from light yellow to dark brown. They have a yellow cere, which is the skin on the beak which attaches to the forehead, and their bill is dark at the tip.
While adults look similar, females are larger than males. Juveniles are also similar, but they tend to have a darker color, sometimes appearing black on the back. They also have white patches on the underside of their wings and some white coloring on the tail.
The Golden Eagle has six subspecies: European Golden Eagle, Iberian Golden Eagle, Asian Golden Eagle, Japanese Golden Eagle, North American Golden Eagle, and the Kamchatkan Golden Eagle. Their differences lie in their size and the slight variations in the color of their feathers.
- Aquila chrysaetos
- Length: 27 – 38 in (69 – 97 cm)
- Weight: 160 oz (4534 g)
- Wingspan: 72 – 96 in (183 – 244 cm)
Golden Eagles that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south for winter to the United States and northern Mexico. However, Golden Eagles in western US states remain all year.
You can find Golden Eagles in mountainous habitats far above the treelines. They also inhabit canyons, riverside cliffs, and bluffs when nesting. They generally prefer to avoid human presence.
If you want to get a birds-eye view of a Golden Eagles’ day then check out the video below, but only if you’re not scared of heights!
Since Golden Eagles are birds of prey, naturally, they’d prey on small to medium-sized animals like rabbits, prairie dogs, and hares. On occasion, they may also hunt and take down larger prey like cranes, swans, and domestic livestock. They usually hunt in pairs, with one chasing down the prey until it gets tired, and then the other swoops in for the kill.
Golden Eagle Call: The main calls that are made by Golden Eagles are during the breeding season when chicks are begging, and parents respond. Otherwise, they are pretty quiet. They make high-pitched whistled calls.
Nests of Golden Eagles are usually located at high elevations, like cliffs. However, they also build them in trees or artificial structures like observation towers, nesting platforms, and even windmills. They’re built high so the parents can have a wide view over their nesting and hunting grounds.
Golden Eagle nests take anywhere from one to three months to build out of sticks and plant material.
They even line their nests with aromatic leaves to keep the insects and other pests at bay. These nests are re-used for many years and grow in size as the adults continue to add material to them.
The female lays one to three eggs, and the parents take turns in incubating the eggs from forty-one to forty-five days. The chick hatches from its egg in 37 hours.
Fun Fact: The Golden Eagle, the Rough-legged Hawk, and the Ferruginous Hawk are the only American birds of prey that have feathers on their legs up to their toes.
14. White-tailed Eagle
White-tailed Eagles are rare or accidental species in Alaska, but there have been sightings here mainly during summer from May to October. They were last spotted around Lopp Lagoon and St. Paul Island.
The White-tailed Eagle is a large eagle having possibly the largest wingspan of any living eagle.
White-tailed Eagles generally have dark brown bodies. Their heads, necks, and upper breasts have a paler or lighter shade of brown and are streaked with white. They have yellow eyes, a short hooked yellow bill, white wedge-shaped tails, and yellow feet. Older birds may show whitish heads.
Juveniles have darker brown coloring with uneven, whitish mottling or streaks across their bodies. Their bills and tails are also dark. It takes four to five years before they attain full adult feathers.
- Haliaeetus albicilla
- Length: 31 – 40 in (79 – 102 cm)
- Weight: 194 oz (5498 g)
- Wingspan: 72 – 96 in (183 – 244 cm)
White-tailed Eagles are more commonly seen across Europe and Asia, but it has been known to visit North America, particularly on the western shores of Alaska.
You can find White-tailed Eagles around rocky coastlines near large bodies of water. In winter, they move to low coastal spots and coastal marshes. During nesting, they need forested areas with large, tall, mature trees or cliffs near lakes, rivers, and seas.
They may also visit human environments with access to food like commercial fish farms but only if they won’t be disturbed by actual humans.
White-tailed Eagles are keen predators that hunt fish, birds, and mammals whenever and wherever they can. Their primary food is fish which they capture when flying from a perch or when flying low.
They may even walk on shallow water and fish from the shore. They are also known to steal food from other birds foraging near their territory.
In hunting birds, White Eagles use stealth and low flight to catch them unaware. They usually target diving ducks, exhausting them until they’re too weak to fight. They may also prey upon nestlings and juveniles. During the lean winter months, they are known to eat carrion or decaying animals.
White-tailed Eagles Calls:
Nests of White-tailed Eagles are often found in large trees, built in-between branches, supported by the main fork, a canopy, or a large side branch. They are usually high up in trees, near the water, or at the edge of an open space. Sometimes, even if trees were available, they would still build on sea cliffs or other rocky spots.
The male White-Tailed Eagle will bring the materials, mostly sticks and branches, and lichen, moss, seaweed, and ferns for lining the inside. The female then constructs the nest. They are known to build alternate nests, with as many as 11 but usually around 2 nests per pair.
The female lays one to three eggs which she incubates for about forty days. The male, for his part, hunts for food and feeds the female, even when the eggs have hatched for up to three weeks.
After that, the female will also join in hunting for food. When the young start to fledge, they may rely on their parents to feed them, but they won’t feed them much in order to encourage them to hunt on their own.
Fun Fact: The White-tailed Eagle had once gone extinct in Europe due to killing by humans. They shot and poisoned them and destroyed any nests that they found. Their numbers have recovered well today due to governmental restrictions and conservationists’ protection.
15. Steller’s Sea-Eagle
Steller’s Sea-Eagles are vulnerable species in Alaska and they are also rare species in the state. They have been spotted here around St. George Island and King Salmon.
Steller’s sea-eagle is the largest bird in the genus Haliaeetus and possibly the heaviest eagle in the world. Its weight ranges from 5 to 9 kilos, with females being heavier than males.
It has a white forehead, yellow eyes with a dark pupil, and a really large, yellow hooked bill. Its body is dark-brown or black with white shoulders, belly, wings, legs, and tail. Its feet are yellow with sharp talons.
Juveniles are similar to adults, but they have no white shoulders, and the end of their tails are dark. It takes around four years for them to attain the coloring of the adults.
Steller’s Sea-Eagle has a very rare dark morph that has black feathers everywhere except for its white tail.
- Haliaeetus pelagicus
- Length: 42 – 45 in (107 – 114 cm)
- Weight: 273.6 oz (7754 g)
- Wingspan: 86 – 98 in (218 – 249 cm)
Steller’s Sea-Eagles are usually found in the rocky seacoasts and rivers of northeastern Siberia in Russia. They migrate to Korea, Japan, and China during winter, staying in coastal areas and on lakes near the coast. However, they occasionally wander into North America.
Steller’s Sea-Eagles love fish, particularly river fish like salmon and trout, which they hunt in shallow water. They also consume salmon that die after spawning because these are more abundant and available in areas with unfrozen water in autumn.
In other areas, they may also hunt and feed on water birds like ducks, geese, swans, and cranes. Mammals are also part of their diet. They favor the American mink, Arctic fox, red fox, and small domestic dogs.
Steller’s Sea Eagle Calls:
Nests of Steller’s Sea Eagle, or as they’re called “aeries,” are built on tops of trees or on rocky outcrops, as high as 100 feet above the ground. While they’re high, they’re still close to the water so that they have easy access to food from their nests.
Steller’s Sea-Eagles build massive nests out of sticks and branches. Since they tend to re-use these nests, they keep adding more sticks and branches to them to keep them sturdy and strong.
The female lays one to three eggs in their chosen nest. Incubation lasts as long as forty-five days. When the chicks hatch, they need all the protection they can get, as it takes about a couple of months or so for them to fly.
Steller’s Sea-Eagles are considered “Vulnerable” due to threats of habitat destruction, industrial pollution, and over-fishing.
Fun Fact: Steller’s Sea Eagles sometimes build a second alternate nest in the event that the first one becomes so heavy that the branches it’s sitting on can’t carry the weight and break.
16. Sharp-shinned Hawk
The Sharp-shinned Hawk breeds in Alaska before migrating south. They are not very common and are in less than 2% of bird sightings in Alaska.
The Sharp-shinned Hawk is the smallest hawk in Alaska. They are smaller than a crow but slightly larger than a Jay.
The females are a third bigger than the male. They have long tails, with a square end, and short, rounded wings and have small heads.
- Length: 9.4-13.4 in (24-34 cm)
- Weight: 3.1-7.7 oz (87-218 g)
- Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 in (43-56 cm)
Adult Sharp-shinned Hawks are blue-gray across the back and have a red-orange breast. They have dark bands across their tails.
They are very secretive but can be seen as they fly across open areas at the edges of forests. They are very agile and can speed through dense woods to catch their prey in flight, usually songbirds.
They can sometimes be seen near feeders catching small birds, but if you have problems with them in your backyard remove the feeder for a few weeks.
Sharp-shinned Hawks pluck their prey on a stump or low branch before eating it. They usually eat songbirds about the size of a robin.
Nests of the Sharp-shinned Hawk are often in conifer trees in dense cover, usually towards the top of tall trees. The nest is quite large being 1-2 feet in diameter and 4-6 inches deep. They lay 3-8 white or pale-blue mottled eggs.
17. Red-tailed Hawks
Red-tailed Hawks breed in southern areas of Alaska before migrating south for winter. They are also the easiest to spot, often on long car journeys, as they circle slowly over open fields looking for prey. You can also see them perched on telephone poles.
- Length: 17.7-22.1 in (45-56 cm)
- Weight: 24.3-45.9 oz (690-1300 g)
- Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in (114-133 cm)
- Length: 19.7-25.6 in (50-65 cm)
- Weight: 31.8-51.5 oz (900-1460 g)
- Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in (114-133 cm)
As their name suggests, the Red-tailed Hawk has a distinctive short, wide red tail. They are large, with broad, rounded wings, between the size of a crow and goose. Most Red-tailed Hawks are brown on the back and pale underneath.
The high-pitched descending raspy-screech sound of the Red-tailed Hawk is often used in movies for all raptors. They eat small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Nests are high in very tall trees or on cliff ledges and sometimes on tall buildings or towers. They lay 2-3 whitish, brown blotched eggs.
18. Rough-legged Hawk
Rough-legged Hawks breed in Alaska and are more common in the north of the state. They are only seen in less than 2% of sightings. Rough-legged Hawks are usually sighted hovering over marshes and open fields or perched on a pole.
- Length: 18.5-20.5 in (47-52 cm)
- Weight: 25.2-49.4 oz (715-1400 g)
- Wingspan: 52.0-54.3 in (132-138 cm)
The feathered legs give the Rough-legged Hawks their name and help to keep them warm in the arctic. They are fairly large hawks, between the size of a crow and a goose.
This predominantly dark-drown species occurs in both light and dark forms, with dark patches at the bend of the wing, end of their tails, and across the belly. They have broad wings that are fairly long and narrow, compared to other hawks.
Lemmings and voles provide most of the prey for Rough-legged Hawks. Nests are usually on a high cliff ledge and they lay 3-5 pale bluish-white eggs.
19. Northern Harrier
The Northern Harrier breeds in Alaska before heading south for the winter. This slim, longed-tailed Hawk can be seen gliding low over grassland or marshes. They are spotted in 4% of recorded bird checklists.
- Length: 18.1-19.7 in (46-50 cm)
- Weight: 10.6-26.5 oz (300-750 g)
- Wingspan: 40.2-46.5 in (102-118 cm)
These hawks are slender with long broad wings and are between the size of a crow and goose. They often fly with the tips of their wings higher than their bodies in a v-shape. Females are brown and males are gray above and white below and they have a white rump patch.
Northern Harriers mostly eat small mammals and small birds. They nest on the ground in dense vegetation such as reeds, willows, or brushtails. They lay 4-5 dull white eggs
20. Northern Goshawk
The Northern Goshawk is found in Alaska all year. They are not seen very often and are only in 1% of sightings recorded on ebird.org.
They live in large forests so are hard to find, especially as they are very secretive and can be aggressive if you get too close to a nest.
They are the bigger and fiercer relative of the Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks. These hawks are between the size of a crow and a goose. They are mostly gray with short, broad wings and a long tail. They have a white stripe over the eye and yellow eyes.
- Length: 20.9-25.2 in (53-64 cm)
- Weight: 22.3-48.1 oz (631-1364 g)
- Wingspan: 40.5-46.1 in (103-117 cm)
Goshawks live in large tracks of mostly coniferous or mixed forests. They watch for prey on high perches and mostly eat medium-sized birds and small mammals.
Northern Goshawks prepare up to eight nests and lay between 2-4 bluish-white eggs.
21. Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vultures are considered rare or accidental species in Alaska, but there have been a few recorded sightings here during summer.
Turkey Vultures are aptly named. They do look like turkeys with their big, bald, red heads and upper necks and brownish-black bodies. However, they are larger than turkeys, and when they’re in flight, their broad wings are slightly raised and make a “V”.
Under their wings, they have gray coloring, making it seem like they’re two-toned. Their eyes are dark brown, and their bills are light-colored.
There are a total of 6 subspecies of Turkey Vultures, and three of them are in North America, which is why they are sometimes classified as “Northern” Turkey Vultures. There are only minor differences among them, mainly tail and wing proportions and color in the underwing feathers.
- Cathartes aura
- Length: 26 – 32 in (66 – 81 cm)
- Weight: 51.2 oz (1451 g)
- Wingspan: 68 – 72 in (173 – 183 cm)
You can find Turkey Vultures in a wide range of habitats, but the most common is open and semi-open areas next to woodlands. They need open areas, like grasslands, shrublands, deserts, and wetlands for foraging. They also need forests with high trees for nesting and roosting, and they need middle to high elevations, like hills and mountainous areas, to give them a height advantage for taking flight.
Sometimes, they will also venture into farmlands or pasturelands for foraging and roosting. Human-made structures are also taken over by them when they’re in urban areas, but only if they can’t find their preferred habitats.
Turkey Vultures’ main source of food is carrion or recently dead or decaying animals as long as it hasn’t decayed too much. They may feed on roadkill and washed-up fish and may even kill small or weak animals.
Turkey Vultures calls: They can only make a raspy hissing sound but are usually silent.
Nests of Turkey Vultures are often found in sheltered areas, like crevices in cliffs and old buildings. They may also use hollow trees or logs and dense thickets. However, they don’t actually build nests. Instead, the female just lays one to three eggs on the ground at the nesting site. Incubation takes around thirty-eight to forty-one days and is accomplished by both parents.
Fun Facts: The sense of smell of Turkey Vultures is quite strong, and they’re able to detect odors of decaying or dead animals on the ground from great distances.
When Turkey Vultures are threatened or aggravated, they will vomit to provide a distraction and fly away. They may even pretend to be dead.
Merlins spend the breeding season in Alaska but a few stay all year along the southern coast. They are recorded in 2% of summer checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.
Merlins are small but fierce falcons that have as many as nine subspecies, three are in North America and the rest are in Europe and Asia. In North America, these three subspecies have varying degrees of coloration depending on their geographic location.
The Black Merlin, Pacific Northwest or Coastal Forest Merlins are very dark blue almost black with white or brown-streaked undersides. The Taiga Merlins have intermediate coloring and Prairie Merlins are the palest of the three.
They are all darker on the back and paler on the underside, but this may range from white to brown. They have small hooked bills and yellow skin at the base of their dark bills and around their dark eyes.
- Falco columbarius
- Length: 11 – 13 in (28 – 33 cm)
- Weight: 7.4 oz (210 g)
- Wingspan: 23 – 26 in (58 – 66 cm)
Merlins breed in Canada, Alaska, and northern US states before migrating into the rest of the US, and down into northern South America. They also breed in northern Europe and migrate to southern Europe and the Middle East for winter.
You can find Pacific Northwest Merlins in coastal areas, Prairie Merlins in open areas with shrubs, and Taiga Merlins near forested openings near water. Merlins are slowly moving into urban areas too.
Merlins are usually on the hunt for small birds, whichever has the most supply in their habitat. They attack from the air, chasing their prey at high speed until their prey becomes exhausted.
Breeding pairs also hunt together, with one bird flushing out prey from the ground and the other catching the disturbed prey from above. They will also supplement their main diet with other animals like insects and reptiles.
Nests of Merlins are mostly in cliffs and tree cavities without the adults adding any material to them. Sometimes, they will use abandoned birds’ nests. What’s important for Merlins is that they be able to see over their territory. The female lays four to five eggs and will incubate them for about a month.
Fun Fact: Merlins were once known as “Pigeon Hawk” in North America.
23. Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcons are most common in Alaska during the breeding season from April to October but a few of them are also spotted along the southern coast all year. They appear in 1% of summer checklists.
The Peregrine Falcon holds several distinctions. It is known as the fastest bird in the world, the fastest of all animals, and it is also the world’s most widespread raptor.
Peregrine Falcons are dark on the back and lighter underneath and they appear to have dark gray to black hoods on their heads.
Their crowns, foreheads, napes, and cheeks are black. They also have dark sideburns on their faces. Their eyes are dark with bright yellow earrings, yellow ceres (base of the bill), and gray to black hooked bills.
Their backs and wings are bluish-black with faint barring and black wingtips. Their throats and breasts may be all-white but sometimes they are spotted or barred. Their underwings, flanks, bellies, and thighs are heavily barred with black and white.
Their tails are bluish-black with bars, a black tip, and white rims. They have yellow legs and feet.
Females are larger but similarly colored as the males. Juveniles generally have brown coloring and they have heavily streaked underparts. Their eyerings and ceres are also bluish, instead of yellow. In flight, their underwings appear checkered, and their flight feathers and undertails are finely barred.
There are currently nineteen subspecies of Peregrine Falcons in the world and each of them has its own color variation, with some exhibiting paler, darker, brown, and rufous hues. Northern Peregrine Falcons exhibit the largest and darkest forms while those in Eurasia and Africa have the palest and smallest forms.
- Falco peregrinus
- Length: 16 – 20 in (41 – 51 cm)
- Weight: 52.91 oz (1499 g)
- Wingspan: 43 – 46 in (109 – 117 cm)
Peregrine Falcons are widespread throughout the world. In North America, they breed predominantly in the arctic and migrate to coastal and southern states.
You can find Peregrine Falcons anywhere in the world except Antarctica. They prefer mountain ranges, open landscapes with cliffs, along rivers and coastlines, and more recently, in urban areas. Generally, they will stay in habitats that have an abundant supply of prey.
Peregrine Falcons are expert hunters, dive-bombing birds, practically any size, at extremely high speeds. Their typical prey include ducks, pigeons, jays, larks, ptarmigans, and starlings. On occasion, they may kill and eat bats and sometimes steal prey like fish and rodents from other hunting birds.
Peregrine Falcon Call:
Nests of Peregrine Falcons are usually on cliff ledges, up to 1,300 feet high. In urban areas, they are mostly found on skyscrapers and tall bridges. In other regions, they use tree hollows for nests.
Typical nests are scrapes where the female “scrapes” a depression in the earth (either soil, sand, or gravel) and where she lays two to six eggs. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs for as many as thirty-three days with the male taking the day shift and the female at night.
Fun Fact: The Peregrine Falcon was considered an Endangered Species from the 1950s to the 1970s because of DDT poisoning. When this pesticide was banned, the species began to thrive again. Today, it’s considered a species of Least Concern.
Gyrfalcons are spotted all year along the coast of Alaska but they are most common from mid-May to November.
Gyrfalcons are the largest Falcons and are apex predators of the Arctic, where they snatch birds from the sky or dive at great speed to catch unsuspecting prey from the ground.
Their coloring varies greatly but generally has three morphs – white, silver/gray, and dark. Silver/gray is most common in North America
The silver/gray morphs are heavily banded gray and white on their upperparts but some are mostly gray without obvious banding. Their underparts are evenly spotted and white at the throat. Juveniles have solid dark heads and are browner overall.
The White morphs of Gyrfalcons are white with brown/black barring on their upperparts with dark wingtips and a white tail. Some birds have barring on their tails and spots on their breasts. Juveniles are similar but have more barring on their upperparts but have faint streaks on their underparts.
- Falco rusticolus
- Length: 20 – 25 in (51 – 64 cm)
- Weight: 41.6 oz (1179 g)
- Wingspan: 48 – 64 in (122 – 163 cm)
Gyrfalcons breed in the high arctic of Canada before migrating south across Canada and northern US states, those that breed further south in the arctic remain all year. They are also found in Europe.
You can find Gyrfalcons in one of the harshest places on earth, the arctic tundra. They usually stay on cliffs near shorelines or rivers and with a vast open space where they can easily hunt prey. When they migrate during the winter, they stay in areas with plenty of birds for them to hunt, like coasts, reservoirs, grasslands, farmlands, and river valleys.
Gyrfalcons primarily hunt ptarmigans and waterfowl but they also hunt and eat songbirds. Their diet is not limited to birds since they also prey on hares, ground squirrels, and arctic foxes.
They may hunt low by cruising near the ground to scare birds and animals and immediately grab them with their talons. When hunting while flying, they usually strike down their prey from above and let them fall to the ground. They will then retrieve it.
Nests of Gyrfalcons are often found on cliffs. They don’t build their own nests but instead make use of abandoned nests of other birds. The female lays up to five eggs and she incubates them for as many as thirty-six days.
Fun Fact: When the chicks aren’t able to finish off their meal, the female Gyrfalcon will keep or store their leftovers behind some vegetation to retrieve for later.
25. American Kestrel
American Kestrels are recognized as regularly occurring in Alaska and are spotted during the breeding season in the southeast of the state, mainly from April to September.
American Kestrels are the smallest and most colorful falcons in North America. Males and females have different colors and markings.
Adult Male American Kestrels have dark gray heads with varying amounts of rufous on the crown, white throats, blue-black bills, and unique vertical slashes on their white faces – one under their eyes and another behind their eyes. This is significant because most falcons only have one.
Their bellies and breasts are orange with brown spots, their backs are red-brown, their wings are blue-gray with white spotting, and they have yellow legs and feet. Their underwings appear spotted. Their tails are reddish-brown with one broad black band and a white tip.
Female American Kestrels share similar traits with the males – rufous crowns, gray heads, white faces, and two black vertical slashes on the face. They also both have two black spots at the back of their heads that deceives potential attackers when hunting from the rear.
However, female American Kestrels have a general rufous coloring, particularly on their backs and wings, and their barring is more pronounced. They have white bellies and breasts with rufous streaks. Their tails are also reddish-brown with many bars.
- Falco Sparverius
- Length: 9 – 12 in (23 – 30 cm)
- Weight: 3.9 oz (111 g)
- Wingspan: 20 – 25 in (51 – 64 cm)
American Kestrels are the most common falcon with seventeen subspecies living in varied environments and habitats across the Americas. With many subspecies, American Kestrels have plenty of regional variation in their coloring, markings, and vocalizations.
American Kestrels are found in North and South America. Those that breed in Canada migrate south for winter, but the rest remain resident all year.
You can find American Kestrels mainly in open areas without dense cover as they prefer viewing their whole territory from a single perch.
They typically live in grasslands, pastures, plains, meadows, agricultural fields, deserts, and even urban environments. You may see them perched on fence posts, lone trees, and low shrubs.
Since American Kestrels can inhabit a wide range of environments, they can also have a diverse range of prey. They can hunt and eat grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, beetles, and dragonflies. What they do is sit and wait on a perch. When they have their prey in sight, they either catch it on the ground or while in flight.
American Kestrels can also hunt by hovering while scanning for prey on the ground.
They may use this strategy when hunting mice, voles, lizards, frogs, and small birds. American Kestrels only attack when they’re sure that they will succeed.
American Kestrel Call:
Nests of American Kestrels include abandoned nests of woodpeckers or other birds, their own tree cavities which they’re reusing, their old nesting sites along cliff ledges and tops of buildings, and tree holes or cavities in cactuses. They also make use of artificial nest boxes.
Female American Kestrels usually lay up to seven eggs. Incubation begins only when all eggs have been laid. The female incubates the eggs for about a month. During this time, the male hunts for food and feeds his bounty to the female. He may sometimes assist in incubation to let the female hunt on her own.
Attracting American Kestrels to your backyard is possible if you put up nest boxes that are within their preferred habitats. They need a perch and open area and preferably with no outdoor pets.
Fun Fact: American Kestrels can see using ultraviolet light which comes in handy when trying to hunt their prey. It is especially handy when seeing the trails of urine that are left by voles that allow the American Kestrels to pinpoint their exact location.
26. Eurasian Hobby
Eurasian Hobbies are extremely rare in Alaska and are considered accidental species in the state. They were last spotted around Shemya Island in 2021.
Eurasian Hobbies are small falcons with slate-gray crowns, backs, and wings. They have a distinct black stripe below each eye, a yellow eyering, thin white eyebrows, and white throats.
Their breasts and bellies are white with heavy black streaking. Their thighs and undertail coverts are plain orange/rufous and look like they’re wearing pants when in flight. Their tails are finely barred and dark-colored.
Adult Eurasian Hobbies look similar but Juveniles have dark brown upperparts, heavily streaked underparts, and are without the orange “pants”.
- Falco subbuteo
- Length: 11 – 13 in (28 – 33 cm)
- Weight:7.2 oz (204 g)
- Wingspan: 29 – 31 in (74 – 79 cm)
Eurasian Hobbies, or simply Hobbies, are widespread in Europe and are also resident across Asia and parts of Africa. They are considered vagrants to the United States with sightings in Alaska, Washington State, and Massachusetts.
You can find Eurasian Hobbies in many open and semi-open habitats like farmlands, woodlands, grasslands, and savannahs with scattered trees. Areas with rivers and wetlands with scattered trees and even rows of fences are ideal environments for Eurasian Hobbies.
Eurasian Hobbies often prey on large insects like dragonflies, and when that’s not available, will often eat small birds like swallows, house martins, larks, sparrows, and swifts. Eurasian Hobbies are fast and powerful when flying and will often grab their prey with their talons and eat their prey while in flight.
Eurasian Hobby Call:
Nests of Eurasian Hobbies are often old and abandoned nests of other birds, usually in a tree. The female lays about three to five eggs and incubates them for about a month.
Fun Fact: The Eurasian Hobby’s name “subbuteo” became the trademark of a tabletop football game when its owner, Peter Adolph, was denied permission to name the game “Hobby”.
27. Eurasian Kestrel
Eurasian Kestrels are accidental species in Alaska. They are extremely rare in the state and have last been spotted around Adak Island in 2012.
The Eurasian Kestrel, also known as the Common Kestrel, is the Eurasian counterpart of the American Kestrel, but it is larger. They are widespread in Europe and Asia and look very similar to American Kestrels.
Male Eurasian Kestrels have gray heads with black mustache stripes under their dark eyes and have bright yellow eyerings. Their ceres (base of the bills) are also bright yellow as are their legs and their bills are hooked and dark.
They have spotted reddish-brown upperparts and buff brown-streaked underparts. Their wings are long with their primary (outer) flight feathers blackish with rufous spots.
Their tails are long, and colored black with a blue-gray band, a black tip, and white rims on the back, and their under tails colored white with a black band at the tip.
Female Eurasian Kestrels have light brown-streaked heads, napes, and underparts. Their backs and wings are rufous and heavily spotted, much more so than the males. Their tails are brown with black bars, a black tip, and white rims.
Juveniles resemble the Females but with a much heavier barring on their upperparts and tails and the streaks on their underwings are much wider.
- Falco tinnunculus
- Length: 12 – 16 in (30 – 41 cm)
- Weight: 6.6 oz (187 g)
- Wingspan: 27 – 30 in (69 – 76 cm)
Eurasian Hobbies, or simply Hobbies, are widespread in Europe and are also resident across Asia and parts of Africa. They are considered vagrants in the United States with only a few sightings.
You can find Eurasian Kestrels in open habitats with a lot of places for perching. These areas are usually in lowlands like fields, shrublands, marshlands, and agricultural lands. They are also seen in semi-forested areas like woodland edges and are adapted to humans so they may be around suburban areas and urban parks.
Eurasian Kestrels mostly eat voles, shrews, and mice and may also eat small birds like songbirds. When available, they will eat bats, swifts, lizards, earthworms, and other large insects like beetles and winged termites. They hunt from a perch, when hovering and flying low to the ground to ambush animals.
Eurasian Kestrel Call:
Nests of Eurasian Kestrels are usually in cavities in cliffs, trees, or even buildings. They will reuse abandoned nests of another species and modify them with added sticks and other materials. The female lays three to six eggs and she incubates them for about a month.
After the eggs hatch, the female feeds the young while the male delivers food to them. The young take thirty to forty days to fledge.
Fun Facts: Eurasian Kestrels also hang around fires and wait for an opportunity to snatch the animals that may be fleeing from the flames.
28. Black Kite
Black Kites are considered accidental species in Alaska, and according to records, they have only been spotted here once, around St. Paul Island in 2017.
Black Kites are medium to large-sized, widely distributed birds of prey that are generally dark brown in coloring. Their heads and necks are a bit on the lighter side, with some having grayish-brown streaks.
They have a dark patch behind the eye, a yellow cere (skin connecting the bill to the forehead), and a black bill (which differentiates them from the yellow-billed kite).
Their underparts are dark-brown, sometimes with some rufous (red) mixed in. Their outer wings are black with a large pale patch at their base. Their tails are short, forked, and with darker-brown barring. Their legs are yellow and their talons are black.
- Milvus migrans
- Length: 17 – 25 in (43 – 64 cm)
- Weight: 22 – 38 oz (623 – 1077 g)
- Wingspan: 47 – 60 in (119 – 152 cm)
Its current population stands at 6 Million, spanning four continents – Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. It has been seen in Alaska, which makes it a vagrant to North America.
You can find Black Kites in many different types of habitats considering how widespread they are in the world. They favor wetlands, river edges, coasts, grassland, open plains, shrubland, and woodlands.
You may be surprised to find them in cities, like the subspecies in India that are adapted to urban living. However, you won’t find them in dense forests and high mountains.
Surprisingly, they form large flocks in winter as they hunt for food, which is rare in birds of prey.
Black Kites are birds of prey so they are carnivores that hunt fish, small mammals, birds, bats, and rodents. They are also carrion (dead animals) eaters and they also scavenge around garbage.
Black Kite Call:
Nests of Black Kites are sturdy constructions made of sticks and twigs located on tree branches, cliff ledges, or buildings. Black Kites re-use these nests so they tend to add to the material and repair them over time.
The female lays two or three eggs. Both parents take turns in incubating the eggs, which may take as long as thirty-four days. The young stay in their nests for the next fifty days, until they learn to fly.
Fun Facts: Black Kites are known to flock around bushfires (in Australia), waiting to ambush the animals that are fleeing from the fires.
Ospreys spend the breeding season in Alaska and occur in 1% of summer checklists. They arrive in mid-April and start to migrate in October.
Ospreys are large, fierce-looking birds of prey that are also known as fish hawks or sea hawks for their specialized ability to catch large fish. Their outer toe can turn backward and they have long powerful talons and spiny scales on the soles of their feet which aid them in grasping slippery, strong fish.
There is only one species of Osprey around the world, however, there are three subspecies, but they are all generally brown on the back and white underneath.
Their heads are white, with some brown streaking on their crowns and foreheads. They have a distinctive broad brown line through their eyes that extends to the sides of their necks. Their eyes are yellow and their bills are black and extremely hooked. Their breasts have a pale, sometimes dark, band. Their legs and feet are gray with black talons.
Adults are fairly similar except that males are slightly slimmer with narrower wings and their breast bands are pale and sometimes nonexistent.
Juveniles have slightly buff feathers and scaled, brown upperparts.
Ospreys fly with M-shaped wings when seen from below.
- Pandion haliaetus
- Length: 21 – 24 in (53 – 61 cm)
- Weight: 63.49 oz (1799 g)
- Wingspan: 54 – 72 in (137 -183 cm)
You can find Ospreys practically anywhere in the world, except Antarctica, particularly with large bodies of water. They can tolerate any habitat as long as the food is accessible and abundant.
Ospreys feed almost exclusively on live fish. They will search for prey and when found, hover over water, then dive, feet and talons first, to capture fish. They will then carry the fish to a nearby perch or carry it over longer distances. On some occasions, they may target rodents, rabbits, snakes, frogs, and birds.
Nests of Ospreys are often built on elevated sites, like treetops, cliffs, and man-made platforms. Nest habitats must be within easy access to their favorite prey, fish. Nests are also built in open environments to allow for easy landings. Nests are made of sticks and lined with grasses, vines, and algae.
Ospreys build up their nests over time so even if the nests start small, they can grow large and deep. Female Ospreys lay one to four eggs and they take about thirty-five to forty-three days to hatch.
Attracting Ospreys to your backyard is possible if you provide the proper nest platform and if you live near the water with an abundant fish supply.
Fun Facts: Ospreys have reversible outer toes, like owls, that allow them to easily and securely grasp fish. They also have closeable nostrils to keep water from entering their noses when they plunge into the water.