Summer marks high point for seeing wide variety of raptors in Iowa

Summer has arrived in Iowa, and so have many migrating birds. Many people have started putting out all sorts of bird feeders, and bird watchers started planning their scenic walks and pictures.

And not only do we have the return of some of Iowa’s most popular birds, but we also have the return of the eight most endangered birds (and bird families) in Iowa.

A few of these birds are from the Accipitridae bird family. This bird family includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and vultures. 

In Iowa, there are only 10 hawks that are found or seen in Iowa. Although there are many types of hawks found in the United States, only 58 percent can be found in Iowa.

Five live in Iowa year-round: red-tailed hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk and northern harrier.

Two of them are nonbreeding, the northern goshawk and the rough-legged hawk. Two of them migrate through Iowa: the Swainson’s hawk and the osprey, and only the broad-winged hawk commonly breeds in Iowa.

Not only are there hawks in Iowa, but there is also the bald eagle. The eagles will stay in Iowa year-round.

Eagles are probably the most famous birds of the Accipitridae family, especially with the Decorah Eagles Cam. This live feed is being recorded 24/7, rain or snow, in Decorah.

It’s also thought that eagles are mated for life. This is probably true with a total of 400 pairs in Iowa.

Along with this, the female eagles can be easily mistaken for the males. Female eagles are ⅓ bigger than the males and with more unruly hair that makes them seem like the males.

Kites, for beginners, most would think about a toy that’s able to fly around in the sky, although there are many toy kites that are made based on the shape of this black and white bird.

In Iowa, there are three types of kites: the Mississippi kite, the swallow-tailed kite and the white-tailed kite. Along with this, you will normally find kites flocking together.

The Mississippi kite is normally found in Iowa during the breeding season

Swallow-tailed kites are very rare in Iowa, with the last known sighting being the year 2021. White-tailed kites are also extremely rare in Iowa, with their last sitting being in 2019.

Both the swallow-tired and white-tailed kites are both accidental species. An accidental species is another term for a vagrant A vagrant is an animal that travels away from the normal areas of migration or strays away from its flock.

So with the wide range of Accipitridae in Iowa, be sure to check them out this summer. Some are common and some endangered due to the loss of habitats in Iowa as populations in cities and towns start to gradually incline.

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