Arizona Birds Of Prey

Arizona Birds Of Prey

The arid expanse of Arizona is home to many different species of bird, with birds of prey making up a significant proportion.

Arizona Birds Of Prey

Ranging from hawks and owls, to eagles, vultures, and falcons, these creatures play a vital role as apex predators, and are paramount to maintaining rodent and small wildlife populations, propagating seeds, and scavenging.

Here are some of the most common birds of prey found in the state of Arizona!

Hawks

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk

The most common is the red-tailed hawk, one of the largest of the hawks on this list with a wingspan of up to 52.4 inches, and one that has a year-long presence in Arizona.

Composed of dark feathers across their back, with their titular red tail, they are instantly recognizable when they’re in mid-flight.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

From the largest to the smallest hawk on the list, the sharp-shinned hawk is most commonly seen stalking song birds, making them a regular sight on commercial properties in the state.

With blue-grey wings and back, and with orange feather patterns on their chests, these birds are recognizable for their size, agility, and distinctive behaviour.

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Similar to the Sharp-shinned, the Cooper’s Hawk preys mainly on other small birds, making them too a nuisance to homeowners with gardens.

They are smaller in size than the red-tailed, but larger than (and similarly coloured to the) sharp-shinned, with distinct orange eyes, a prominent beak, and a longer wingspan.

Owls

Great-Horned Owl

Great-Horned Owl

One of the largest in the country, with distinctive orange eyes, prominent feathering on the brow (giving the impression of horns), and large bodies, they are capable of taking down large prey with ease, including similar sized birds.

A known rival of the red-tailed hawk due to their similarity in size, the great-horned owl is commonly found in forests, swamps, and deserts, as well as in residential areas, making them a regular sight amongst locals.

American Barn Owl

American Barn Owl

Somewhat softer and less-intense looking than the great horned owl, the more widely recognised barn owl are characterized by their white coat of feathers, and their friendlier appearance.

Somewhat more elusive than the great-horned, and with exceptional night vision, barn owls can be identified by their characteristic screech, and can be seen by the glow of their white underside.

Long-Eared Owls

Long-Eared Owls

These well-camouflaged, somewhat elusive owls are smaller than the aforementioned, using their favored habitat of dense wooded areas to prey on the small rodents and animals that call the nearby grasslands their home.

Despite their best efforts, these commonly found owls can be identified by their long, low hoots, elongated tufts of feathers on the ears, and droppings found close to dense, grassy areas.

Falcons

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Despite the disarming small stature of these birds, they can be notably aggressive towards larger birds, and are proven efficient hunters, residing mainly off of insects and small rodents.

They are particularly distinctive in appearance, with males displaying brown and blue feathers with spotted accents, and both sexes possessing notable stripes on their heads.

Prairie Falcon

Prairie Falcon

Residing in the grasslands, Prairie falcons employ a high altitude to spot potential prey, in the form of small birds and mammals.

Despite the heights they reach, and their commonality within Arizona, their brown coloring often makes them hard to spot in the wild – a fact that ultimately works in their favor.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

As the fastest species of bird, with diving speeds clocked at over 200 mph, the peregrine is perhaps the most accomplished predator on this list.

Despite their migration patterns, and their once dwindling numbers, the peregrine falcon remains prevalent within Arizona, as well as several of the National Parks in the United States.

Eagles

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Perhaps the most recognizable bird on the planet, and one that has become near synonymous with the United States of America, the bald eagle is a commonly found bird of prey residing in Arizona.

With its notable white head (or “piebald”, the source of the bald in its name), and large build, this species predominantly resides on fish, making their homes close to bodies of water.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

Smaller and faster than their Bald cousins, the golden eagle favors mammals to fish, preying on small creatures like squirrels and hares, as well as surprisingly larger mammals like small deer, coyotes, and mountain goats.

Brown in appearance, with trademark golden feathers on their backs, these birds of prey make their homes in numerous locations, but mainly grassland, farmland, and dense woodland.

Vultures

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

With a distinctive bald, red head, and a diet consisting mainly of carrion (the carcasses of dead animals), the turkey vulture uses its strong sense of smell to locate food up to 8 miles away.

Though fresh food is their preference, they will resort to type if circumstance dictates.

Black Vulture

Black Vultures 

Differing in appearance from turkey vultures, with a completely black coat and silver wingtips, the black vulture favors forested areas for seclusion, leaving to hunt for food along road sides, and in neighboring fields and grassland.

A cunning bird, they often reside close to turkey vultures, exploiting their powerful sense of smell to find their own food.

California Condor

California Condor

The largest bird in the United States, this species of vulture came close to extinction in 1987, due to their irregular breeding patterns.

This was remedied in the early 90s, when new breeding patterns were established amongst captive birds, before they were released back into the wild for repopulation.

These birds are distinctive for their bald heads, with often purple shades around their striking blood red eyes.

Conclusion

And there we have the most commonly found birds of prey in Arizona.

Ranging from hawks, to owls, to falcons, eagles and vultures, these are just a handful of examples belonging to the vast, varied ecosystem of the Grand Canyon State, which in itself boasts 551 species of birds alone.