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“Florida Keys Raptors” Presentation @ Pennekamp Friday 11/14

Florida Keys Raptors

John Pennekamp State Park is presenting a slideshow Friday, 11/14 at 6 pm highlighting migrating and resident raptors.

Raptors, per Wikipedia, are birds of prey. These birds are characterized by a keen vision that allows them to detect prey during flight and powerful talons and beaks. Many species of birds may be considered partly or exclusively predatory. However, in ornithology, the term “bird of prey” applies only to birds of the families listed below.

  • Eagles tend to be large birds with long, broad wings and massive feet. Booted eagles have legs and feet feathered to the toes and build very large stick nests.
  • Ospreys, a single species found worldwide that specializes in catching fish and builds large stick nests.
  • Kites have long wings and relatively weak legs. They spend much of their time soaring. They will take live vertebrate prey, but mostly feed on insects or even carrion.
  • The true hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that usually belong to the genus Accipiter (see below). They are mainly woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails for tight steering.
  • Buzzards are medium-large raptors with robust bodies and broad wings, or, alternatively, any bird of the genus Buteo (also commonly known as “hawks” in North America).
  • Harriers are large, slender hawk-like birds with long tails and long thin legs. Most use a combination of keen eyesight and hearing to hunt small vertebrates, gliding on their long broad wings and circling low over grasslands and marshes.
  • Vultures are carrion-eating raptors of two distinct biological families: the Accipitridae, which only occurs in the Eastern Hemisphere; and the Cathartidae, which only occurs in the Western Hemisphere. Members of both groups have heads either partly or fully devoid of feathers.
  • Falcons are medium-size birds of prey with long pointy wings. Unlike most other raptors, they belong to the Falconidae, rather than the Accipitridae. Many are particularly swift flyers. Caracaras are a distinct subgroup of the Falconidae unique to the New World, and most common in the Neotropics – their broad wings, naked faces and appetites of a generalist suggest some level of convergence with either the Buteos or the vulturine birds, or both.
  • Owls are variable-sized, typically night-specialized hunting birds. They fly almost silently due to their special feather structure that reduces turbulence. They have particularly acute hearing.

The program is included in the admission price but you must enter the park before 5:30 pm and ask for the raptor program pass.  It will be held outdoors and park management suggests you may want to have insect protection handy.  Call 305-451-1202 for more info.

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