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Thread: Is a kite a falcon/hawk or what?

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    Senior Member Bikerrod's Avatar
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    Default Is a kite a falcon/hawk or what?

    Can someone explain in easy terms,,without the heavy latin;

    is a buzzard a hawk/falcon or what?
    is a kite a hawk/falcon or what?
    same for the kestral.

    I googled the question but no answer or am I asking the wrong question ,,as it were.

    Thanks

    Rod

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    Kestrels are falcons (family Falconidae).

    Buzzards, kites, hawks and harriers are separate subgroups all in the same family (family Accipitridae).

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    Senior Member mafting's Avatar
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    Problem is you have the scientific terms for those words, and then the layman's term for those words.

    MichaelF gives the scientific, which is what most people use now, but in very basic layman's terms all birds of prey used to be known as hawks (e.g. old names for Osprey = Fish hawk, Merlin = Blue Hawk, Harriers = Marsh Hawk).

    You can see this carried over to the US, where they still call many things in different families 'hawks'. their Buteo (our Buzzards) are called Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, their Accipiter (our Sparrowhawks-type things) are Coopers and Sharp-shinned Hawks, their harriers are still Marsh Hawk, and they sometimes call Merlins Pigeon Hawks.

    So at the time when they were naming birds of Prey in the USA, they followed the original European idea of calling everything a hawk - we later changed it to reflect the clearly different families, they haven't yet.

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    Senior Member Bikerrod's Avatar
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    Default MM,,I think I've got that

    Quote Originally Posted by mafting View Post
    Problem is you have the scientific terms for those words, and then the layman's term for those words.

    MichaelF gives the scientific, which is what most people use now, but in very basic layman's terms all birds of prey used to be known as hawks (e.g. old names for Osprey = Fish hawk, Merlin = Blue Hawk, Harriers = Marsh Hawk).

    You can see this carried over to the US, where they still call many things in different families 'hawks'. their Buteo (our Buzzards) are called Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, their Accipiter (our Sparrowhawks-type things) are Coopers and Sharp-shinned Hawks, their harriers are still Marsh Hawk, and they sometimes call Merlins Pigeon Hawks.

    So at the time when they were naming birds of Prey in the USA, they followed the original European idea of calling everything a hawk - we later changed it to reflect the clearly different families, they haven't yet.
    So if I call the buzzard or the kite a HAWK,,,I would be describing them correctly,,as I am English / European

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    Rod,

    You MUST buy the 2nd edition Collins Bird Guide:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Collins-Bird...1032547&sr=1-2

    Money well spent.

    Colin

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    Senior Member mafting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikerrod View Post
    So if I call the buzzard or the kite a HAWK,,,I would be describing them correctly,,as I am English / European
    Only in the same way that calling a Turtle Dove a pigeon is correct. You can be much more specific and accurate in what you say.

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    Senior Member appleton.dave's Avatar
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    Some of these terms have specific meanings while others are less official and have looser meanings, and some have different meanings in different parts of the world.

    Falcon is the easiest one as it invariably (I think) refers to any member of a specific family of species (scientifically called Falconidae). The common UK representatives are Kestrel, Merlin, Hobby and Peregrine but there are lots of others, some of which have Falcon in their name (like Red-footed Falcon) and some of which don't.

    Kestrel (note spelling - Kestral is wrong), in the UK, usually refers to one specific species of falcon - this also goes by the names Common Kestrel or Eurasian Kestrel, but most people here just call it Kestrel. World wide there are several other species of kestrel, all of them falcons, so kestrel could simply mean any member of this subset of falcons, but it usually just refers to the one species that's common here. Go to America and talk about a Kestrel and you'll be talking about a different species that over here we'd call American Kestrel.

    Buzzard is like Kestrel in that it usually refers to one specific species (not a falcon), also called Common Buzzard or Eurasian Buzzard. However there are other closely related species of buzzard, like Rough-legged Buzzard - they're all different types of buzzard. There's also another species called Honey-Buzzard that isn't really a buzzard at all, but looks a bit like one.

    Kites are another group of species (again not falcons, and not buzzards either). Each of them is usually known by its full name, e.g. Red Kite or Black Kite. Red Kites were once known as simply Kite, but less often nowadays.

    Hawk is the least clearly defined one and is best avoided as it can mean any of several things. It is sometimes used simply to mean any bird of prey. I don't think many birders use it that way but presumably whoever decided to name the Hawk and Owl Trust did. In the UK we have two species with Hawk in their name - Sparrowhawk and Goshawk, so some people will use it to refer to either of these, or specifically Sparrowhawk. Properly this group of birds are called accipters, but a lot of people call them hawks. In North America they have different species of accipiter that also have Hawk in their name, but they also have birds related to our buzzards that they call hawks, like Red-tailed Hawk for example (they don't call them buzzards because in America "Buzzard" is an old name, still used by many, for a completely different species: Turkey Vulture). So hawks can mean accipiters, or buzzards, or both. Harriers are another group of species, and these are sometimes referred to as hawks too (the American counterpart of our Hen Harrier is sometimes known as Marsh Hawk). A lot of people wouldn't include falcons when they're talking about hawks, but then an old name for Peregrine (which is a type of falcon) is Duck Hawk. So basically hawk can mean pretty much anything and is best avoided without qualifying it.

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    Senior Member Bikerrod's Avatar
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    Default Thank you one and all

    Many thanks for the education everyone,,,and it looks like I'm going to have to dip my hand in my pocket and get that book that Colin has advised.
    I shudder to think of the cost,,but it seems that to continue on this road of looking for birds,,I'm going to have to do it.

    I find it facinating that all my life I have heard people talk of hawks and falcons and eagles of course,,and blindly gone with the flow,,thinking they all had this sub name.

    Rod

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    Senior Member darrenjhughes's Avatar
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    Rod
    I lived on the Island for 10 years
    Right Laymans terms
    Buzzard(big brownish thing with broad wings)
    Hawk (Smaller brownish thing with broad wings)
    Falcon (small/med size with pointy wings)

    buy the book

    and get the rest to buy a Harley

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikerrod View Post
    .........and it looks like I'm going to have to dip my hand in my pocket and get that book that Colin has advised.
    I shudder to think of the cost............

    Rod
    Rod,

    This will be the best nine quid (and free delivery from Amazon) you ever spent.

    Colin

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