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Thread: What type of Raptor is this?

  1. #1
    Ausphotography Regular Ross M's Avatar
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    What type of Raptor is this?

    On the hunt in Western Sydney suburbia. I'm assuming it's extremely common. I get a little excited when I see majestic birds like this, but haven't got the focal length to take a decent photo.
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    Last edited by Ross M; 22-02-2018 at 5:52pm.

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Nice one!

    Square-tailed Kite. You don't see them too often.

    Note the white head, very long tail. very large wings relative to body size, and the distinctive scruffy look. Squaries aren't always scruffy, but when it comes to dressing badly, they are the champions!
    Tony

    It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Nice one.
    As Tony mentioned these aren't commonly seen. Probably because they look after a rather large territory that they don't like other square-tails coming into. +100 sq.kms.

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    Ross M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    Nice one!

    Square-tailed Kite. You don't see them too often.

    Note the white head, very long tail. very large wings relative to body size, and the distinctive scruffy look. Squaries aren't always scruffy, but when it comes to dressing badly, they are the champions!
    Thanks Tony. Here in Western Sydney , scruffy fits right in . I'm surprised it's rare.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    Nice one.
    As Tony mentioned these aren't commonly seen. Probably because they look after a rather large territory that they don't like other square-tails coming into. +100 sq.kms.

    I noticed it a couple of days ago, assuming it's the same bird, which is extremely likely. I have a plastic owl on my roof to discourage the plague proportions of pigeons that moved in last year. This beauty cleared the air of everything on wings in short order. I hope it stays around for bit.
    That's a big territory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    Nice one!

    Square-tailed Kite. You don't see them too often.

    Note the white head, very long tail. very large wings relative to body size, and the distinctive scruffy look. Squaries aren't always scruffy, but when it comes to dressing badly, they are the champions!
    HI. Lovely photo and you have answered the question I have asked many times.

    I live in Emu Heights on the escarpment of the Blue Mountains and every few weeks or so we see this bird flying around, or I should say gliding around. Always around 200-300 foot (at a guess) off the ground over the grass padocks at the base of the mountains, just near the Nepean River. Obviously hunting for food, rabbits or rodents.

    We always thought it was an Eagle but although it is quite big and looks strong, it didn't seem quite large enough to be an Eagle and a friend said it was a Kestrel, but they are smaller and I don't think you get them around here.

    I think that you have pinpointed the bird that has puzzled us for ages. Thank you, I can now look for further information and hopefully confirm what it is.

    But yeh, I love the photo.
    Last edited by Snooks; 24-09-2018 at 11:33pm.
    I use a Nikon D200 and a Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens . I do most of my editing in Gimp 2.10

    My friends refer to me as "Snooks"

  6. #6
    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Raptor identification can be rather tricky, Snooks. Your bird is probably a Little Eagle, a Whistling Kite, or just possibly a Swamp Harrier. Oh, or a Brown Falcon. Square-tailed Kites are uncommon to rare, and they prefer woodland habitats. Check for the distinctive white head, as seen in Ross' picture.

    Swamp Harriers like swamps (how would you ever guess that?) but also long grasses, and like all harriers, they cruise around at low altitude looking for rodents and nestlings and the like. Typically they fly lower than your bird, more like first or second-storey window height, and they don't like hills much. They have an obvious white rump, which you can see from most angles.

    Whistling Kites are very common, especially around wetlands, but pretty much everywhere. They are a fairly plain bird, with some patterning underneath broadly similar to the Square-tailed Kite in the picture.

    Little Eagles are less common than Whistling Kites, but they particularly like the edges of hills and the country nearby, which is where you mostly see them. They also tend to fly very much as you describe. (Whistling Kites are a bit lazier.) They too are plain, but have much more distinct patterning underneath the wings. If you can clearly see three colours under the wings, think Little Eagle. If you can only see two, or are not sure, go for Whistling Kite.

    Brown Falcons are also very common, and are found quite literally everywhere, from forest to desert. Yet another generally plain brown bird, they have two distinctive vertical blackish stripes on the face, either side of the eye. This is obvious with a sitting bird; with a bird in flight you recognise them by the way they fly, which is very distinctive once you have got your eye in for it but hard to describe in words.

    All five birds mentioned are pretty much the same size. (The Square-tailed Kite a little smaller in the body but with huge wings; the male Brown Falcon is obviously smaller but the female is a pretty big girl. At first glance, call all 5 species the same size.) There are other Australian raptors this size too, but I think I've mentioned all the likely ones.

    (Wedge-tailed Eagles and Sea Eagles are much bigger, and distinctive in other ways too. You are right to think that kestrels are much smaller, and in any case they are light-coloured underneath, almost white. Goshawks and sparrowhawks are an obviously different colour, except for young ones which can be confusing. Like the falcons, you tend to ID them by shape and the way they move rather than by plumage.)

    (Sorry: probably too much detail. But I love ID questions. Never can resist.)

    EDIT: my best bet (on not enough evidence): Little Eagle.
    Last edited by Tannin; 25-09-2018 at 12:04am.

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    Awesome Tannin, i will see what else i can find out when we see them next. We see them every few weeks off and on.

    Thanks mate, very interesting and detailed information.

    Cheers

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    I'm hoping your right with your ID snooks.
    I know you don't really have the gear to get close to the birds but grab a photo and crop. Some here will be able to have a guess on ID based on the outline of the bird.

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