Birds of Prey

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A bird of prey, or raptor, is characterized as having excellent eyesight, long sharp talons, and a strong rounded beak. All are carnivorous; most hunt live prey in some capacity. Included in this classification are hawks, eagles, falcons, owls and vultures. Keen-eyed visitors to the scenic coastal areas abutting Oregon Islands NWR can reliably see various species of raptor preying on seabirds and other wildlife throughout the year.

  • Bald Eagle

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    The Bald Eagle is resident throughout North America and can be found in almost every region of Oregon. With their distinctive white head and yellow beakand incongruous, tittering callthese enormous birds stand out. The Bald Eagle's wingspan can reach up to eight feet across, and its disheveled stick-built nest can weigh more than a ton. Listed as an endangered species until 2007, Bald Eagles are increasing in number across the country, becoming almost plentiful in some areas. The eagle's diet is primarily fish, but can include rodents, small mammals, and other birds.  

    Learn how this uptick of Bald Eagles on the Oregon coast is affecting nesting seabirds

  • Osprey

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    Osprey are a truly cosmopolitan species, occurring in a broad latitudinal swath around the world. In the United States, Osprey breed in forested areas from Alaska to Newfoundland and down to the Southwestern states, and from the Atlantic coast south to Florida. Look for their unkempt nests of twigs and branches piled atop trees, utility poles or similar such scaffolds near water. Like other raptors, Osprey use their sharp talons to catch prey. But unlike any other North American raptor, these birds are almost entirely piscivorous. They hunt over shallow bodies of water and dive feet-first to snatch fish from the surface. Identify Osprey overhead by the noticeable kink in their wings; watch as they scan the water's surface for telltale ripples before a dive.

  • Turkey Vulture

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    Turkey Vultures are a common sight along the Oregon coast in spring and summer, soaring high on thermals or perched on sea stacks, wings spread to the warming sun. Almost purely scavengers, these iron-stomached birds feed on a wide variety of inert flesh, from pinniped afterbirths and seabird eggs to roadkill and washed-up whale carcasses. A singular trait of Turkey Vultures is their sharp sense of smell, enabling them to home in on malodorous carrion from incredible distances.

  • Peregrine Falcon

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    Once an endangered species—imperiled chiefly by DDT, like so many birds of preythese falcons have recovered well, and can be found on every continent but Antarctica. Peregrines use cliff ledges near water to build their nests, called "aeries". In cities they'll use window ledges, a testament to their adaptability. Peregrine Falcons prey primarily on other birds, but will take rodents and fish as well. Famously known as the fastest animal in the world, Peregrines can strike prey at speeds of 200 miles per hour. A pair of Peregrine Falcons can be seen at Cape Meares NWR from the viewing decks located within the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport also hosts nesting pairs on its coastal rocks and islands.

    Learn more about these swift hunters here.