Birds of Prey


Black & Turkey Vultures


Both species are black with unfeathered heads. Turkey Vulture has red head, Black Vulture’s is black. In flight, Turkey Vultures show white extending along the entire length of the wing. Black Vultures have white in the wing-tips only.

Where to see

Resident/migratory, breeder, common year-round.

Notes

Usually seen feeding on carrion along the roadside or soaring above.

Great Horned Owl


A large, bulky owl with long ear tufts. Brownish-gray with orange face.

Where to see

Resident, breeder, uncommon year-round. Forested areas and shrubland.

Notes

Opportunistic predator that consumes a wide variety of prey from mice and raccoons to woodpeckers and hawks.

Eastern Screech-Owl


A small, stocky owl with prominent ear tufts. Gray and red color phases. Red is most common on Kiawah.

Where to see

Resident, breeder, uncommon year-round. Forested areas.

Notes

Two distinctive calls given at night include a low, rolling trill and an eerie descending whinny. Eats insects, rodents, and birds.

Cooper’s Hawk


A medium-sized raptor with long tail. Adults are slate-blue above, orange below with crisp horizontal striping. Immatures are brown above, creamy and brown-streaked below.

Where to see

Migratory, breeder, uncommon year-round. Forested areas, dunes.

Notes

Very skillful flyer. Eats small to medium-sized birds. Often hunts around bird feeders.

Northern Harrier


A medium-sized, marsh-hovering raptor with a white rump. Adult males are gray above, white below with a dark gray head. Females and immatures are dark above, creamy and streaked below. Owl-like face.

Where to see

Migratory, common in winter, fall, and spring. Marsh.

Notes

A common sight during the winter flying low over Kiawah’s marshes.

Red-Shouldered Hawk


Medium-sized raptor. Adults are dark above with white spotting, reddish below with thin white stripes. Immatures are brownish above, creamy below with pale spots.

Where to see

Resident, breeder, uncommon year-round. Forested areas.

Notes

Call is a repeated, loud “kee-ahh” lasting about a second.

Red-Tailed Hawk


Large, soaring raptor. Brownish above, whitish below with a distinct dark belly band. Adults have rusty-red tails.

Where to see

Resident, breeder, uncommon year-round. Forested areas and marsh.

Notes

Prefers to hunt in the open from a high sturdy perch. Call is a hoarse, descending scream lasting 2-3 seconds.

Osprey


Large raptor. Dark brown above, white below. White head with a prominent dark eye-stripe.

Where to see

Resident, breeder, common year-round. Forested areas, ocean, beach, river, marsh, and ponds.

Notes

Primarily feeds on fish captured by hovering high over the water then plunging in feet first.

Bald Eagle


A large raptor with a thick yellow bill. Adult is dark with white head and tail. Immatures are dark overall with some to no white in head and tail.

Where to see

Migratory, breeder, uncommon in winter, fall, and spring. Forested areas, beach, river, and marsh.

Notes

Takes 5 years to attain adult plumage.