What Makes a Bird a Raptor?

Raptors are characterized by:

  • A Hooked Beak
  • Strong Feet with Sharp Talons
  • Keen Eyesight
  • A Carnivorous Diet

At Risk Birds

Short-eared Owls are a New York State endangered species (see photo below). The Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area, or IBA, is critical to their survival in New York State.

This unique IBA also provides important habitat for other imperiled grassland bird species, including threatened Northern Harriers (see photo of magnificent male Harrier above courtesy Gordon Ellmers), Upland Sandpipers and Henslow’s Sparrows.  Eastern Meadowlarks, American Kestrels, Horned Larks, Vesper Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows are at-risk, species of special concern and/or rapidly declining.

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Commonly Seen Grassland Birds

 Bobolinks breed in the IBA and are fairly easy to spot if you take the time to look and listen for them. Savannah Sparrows are more easily heard and seen in spring and early summer. Snow Buntings are seen in small or large flocks in winter.    
 

Winter visitors are in for a treat with Rough-legged Hawks, Snow Buntings and Snowy Owls
frequently sighted!
  Click here to view more great bird photos
Northern Harrier, top, and all photos this page courtesy Gordon Ellmers