Birds of Hardy Lake

Red Tail Hawk

Red Tail Hawks, often called chicken hawks, are very common in Indiana.

Red-tailed Hawks occupy just about every type of open habitat on the continent. This includes desert, scrublands, grasslands, roadsides, fields and pastures, parks, broken woodland, and (in Mexico) tropical rainforest.
Mammals make up the bulk of most Red-tailed Hawk meals. Frequent victims include voles, mice, wood rats, rabbits, snowshoe hares, jackrabbits, and ground squirrels. The hawks also eat birds, including pheasants, bobwhite, starlings, and blackbirds; as well as snakes and carrion. Individual prey items can weigh anywhere from less than an ounce to more than 5 pounds.

Merlin

Merlins are small falcons, but they were called “Lady Hawks” in medieval times because noble women used them to hunt.

Merlins are small, fierce falcons that use surprise attacks to bring down small songbirds and shorebirds. They are powerful fliers, but you can tell them from larger falcons by their rapid wingbeats and overall dark tones. Medieval falconers called them “lady hawks,” and noblewomen used them to hunt Sky Larks. Merlin populations have largely recovered from twentieth-century declines, thanks to a ban on the pesticide DDT and their ability to adapt to life around towns and cities.

Rough Legged Hawk

Rough Legged Hawks may be all dark, but still with pale wing feathers and white at base of tail.

Rough-legged Hawks are fairly large hawks with broad wings that, compared to other Buteo hawks, are fairly long and narrow. The tail is also longer than in many other buteos. The wingtips are broad and often swept back slightly from the wrist, giving a hint of an M shape to the wing. The bill is fairly small.
These hawks breed in the arctic. In winter they migrate to open habitats such as fields, prairies, deserts, and airports in the U.S. and southern Canada.

American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is our smallest falcon, and most colorful.

North America’s littlest falcon, the American Kestrel packs a predator’s fierce intensity into its small body. It's one of the most colorful of all raptors: the male’s slate-blue head and wings contrast elegantly with his rusty-red back and tail; the female has the same warm reddish on her wings, back, and tail. Hunting for insects and other small prey in open territory, kestrels perch on wires or poles, or hover facing into the wind, flapping and adjusting their long tails to stay in place. Kestrels are declining in parts of their range; you can help them by putting up nest boxes.

Bald Eagle

In 1989 there were no Bald Eagles in Indiana. Today, they are off the state’s endangered list.

The Bald Eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for native people for far longer than that. These regal birds aren’t really bald, but their white-feathered heads gleam in contrast to their chocolate-brown body and wings. Look for them soaring in solitude, chasing other birds for their food, or gathering by the hundreds in winter. Once endangered by hunting and pesticides, Bald Eagles have flourished under protection.

Barn Owl

Barn Owls live in open habitats across most of the lower 48 United States and extend into a few parts of southern Canada (as well as in much of the rest of the world).

Ghostly pale and normally strictly nocturnal, Barn Owls are silent predators of the night world. Lanky, with a whitish face, chest, and belly, and buffy upperparts, this owl roosts in hidden, quiet places during the day. By night, they hunt on buoyant wingbeats in open fields and meadows. You can find them by listening for their eerie, raspy calls, quite unlike the hoots of other owls. Despite a worldwide distribution, Barn Owls are declining in parts of their range due to habitat loss.

Screech Owl

Common east of the Rockies in woods, suburbs, and parks, the Eastern Screech-Owl is found wherever trees are, and they’re even willing to nest in backyard nest boxes.

Almost any habitat with sufficient tree cover will do for this cosmopolitan owl. Tree cavities or nest boxes are essential, and fairly open understories are preferred, but Eastern Screech-Owls live and breed successfully in farmland, suburban landscapes, and city parks. On the Great Plains, at the westernmost edge of its range, Eastern Screech-Owls occur in the uneven traces of wooded land along streams and rivers. Screech-owls cannot survive if all trees are removed, but the species readily recolonizes once trees are replanted, especially if nest boxes are also provided.

Northern Harrier

Northern Harriers fly low over the ground when hunting, weaving back and forth over fields and marshes as they watch and listen for small animals

The Northern Harrier is distinctive from a long distance away: a slim, long-tailed hawk gliding low over a marsh or grassland, holding its wings in a V-shape and sporting a white patch at the base of its tail. Up close it has an owlish face that helps it hear mice and voles beneath the vegetation. Each gray-and-white male may mate with several females, which are larger and brown. These unusual raptors have a broad distribution across North America.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawks soar over forests or perch on tree branches or utility wires.

Whether wheeling over a swamp forest or whistling plaintively from a riverine park, a Red-shouldered Hawk is typically a sign of tall woods and water. It’s one of our most distinctively marked common hawks, with barred reddish-peachy underparts and a strongly banded tail. In flight, translucent crescents near the wingtips help to identify the species at a distance. These forest hawks hunt prey ranging from mice to frogs and snakes.

A couple of the images on this page are available by permission from Marty Jones and are his copyrighted images.  Mr. Jones’ site

Many of the images on this page have been taken by Sam Mayo, a student at Purdue Polytechnic University.