Raptor Identification

Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s?

It’s that age-old question, and we’re here to help you answer it. From a series of Raptor ID videos, where our scientists teach you the basics of raptor identification, to so much more—HawkWatch International is here to help you hone your Raptor ID skills.

We will teach you how to use shape, flight style, plumage, habitat, and behavior to help you uncover what species is flying by.  And remember, it is impossible to identify every bird you see, but it’s fun to try!

Resources We Recommend

Raptor ID Fact Sheets

Explore individual pages on the raptor species we work with. Click through to learn more about each species’ shape, flight, plumage, migration, and distribution.

FREE Raptor ID App

The first raptor identification app designed for mobile devices! In this guide to North America’s 34 species of diurnal raptors, you’ll find nearly 1000 annotated photos and cutting-edge identification videos for each species geared toward helping you identify raptors in flight.

Advice from Experts

On the blog, we dive into more specific topics like Red-tailed Hawk races and cover the basics like anatomy terminology. Use the search feature to find any blogs tagged as “ID.” Additionally, if you have a photo or video of a raptor you need help identifying, submit it to our Ask an Expert form, where a raptor expert will walk you through the ID.

Field Guides

There are lots of field guides out there, but there are a few that we highly recommend. Head to our store to shop our favorites, including Jerry Liguori’s books and our own In-hand Guide to Diurnal North American Raptors. Whether you are looking to identify birds as they migrate overhead or learn the nitty gritty of molt, we have resources for you.

Raptors Need You!

Each year, fewer than 3% of all charitable dollars in the United States support conservation. Your gift makes our work to conserve raptors and our shared environment possible. Thank you.

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