By Amy Marcos | Photo: Molly Wright
You hear them hooting at night, you see them perched on power lines in your neighborhood, you see them soaring over Thomasville Road—but what are they? Several birds of prey and members of their families call Tallahassee their home. Check out this guide to see what they are.
Barred Owls are typically found in southern swamps. Just slightly smaller than the more well-known great horned owl, barred owls usually live in pairs of 2 and are most active at night. If you live in a tree-dense neighborhood, barred owls can probably be heard while hunting and communicating back-and-forth at nighttime.
Red tailed hawk
Arguably the most recognizable hawk in North America, these large hawks have broad, dark brown wings and are bulkier than similar-looking birds of prey. Typically living in open habitats all over many continents, these hawks can be found perching on power lines and poles. With a signature red tail and and extra-sharp talons, red-tailed hawks are among the most aggressive birds of prey living in Tallahassee.
Red-shouldered hawks, with a call similar to that of a blue jay, are seen—and heard—all over Tallahassee. They have long, dark brown wings and a reddish, brownish shoulder feathers. Living primarily in woodlands, these hawks enjoy more open habitats like mangroves. They, too, are often found perching in trees or on power lines, looking for prey to catch.
As seen nesting high in the sky in the trees alongside the road on Kerry Forest Parkway, ospreys are often confused with eagles. While eagles are not found in Tallahassee (though they can be seen nesting in the distance at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge), ospreys are typically found near water, such as marshes or lakes—wherever fish are present. Very large hawks, these birds of prey have dark brown wings/backs and bright white underparts.
Sharp-shinned hawk — These hawks tend to keep to themselves, but at nighttime, they ambush smaller songbirds, and, sometimes, during the day, can be found preying on small finches on your birdfeeder. Living primarily in woodlands and thickets, sharp-shinned hawks are the smallest of all hawks on this continent. With long legs and short wings, these “pursuit hunters” are often confused with Cooper’s hawks.