Be a Better Birder: Hawk & Raptor Identification Archived Series
This series gets you up-close-and-personal with the hawks, eagles, and falcons of the United States and Canada. You’ll get to know their markings and behaviors so that next time you see a hawk fly by, you’ll be able to confidently add it to your list.
Featuring all 34 raptors from across the United States and Canada, this video-based course will help you enjoy the thrill of recognizing everything from hawks to falcons, kites, vultures, and eagles.
Build Your Raptor Confidence
This series of instructional videos helps you build techniques and strategies and gets you up to speed on all the hawks and raptors of North America.
- Practice how to use wingspan and tail length to help you identify raptors
- Get used to using clues from silhouettes in the sky
- Learn keys to ID for all the raptors commonly found in in North America
This 6 lesson raptor identification series was recorded as live-streamed webinars in 2015. Bird Academy is now offering the video archives of this popular series so that you can jumpstart your raptor identification skills—this time completely at your own pace. Each lesson contains more than one hour of online video instruction by Dr. Kevin McGowan, plus a downloadable handout to help you take notes as you watch.
Meet the Course Instructor
Course instructor Kevin McGowan combines deep knowledge about birds with a passion for helping others learn. He is a professional ornithologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and one of the world’s foremost experts on the behavior of crows. Kevin is also an accomplished birder and World Series of Birding champion. Among his contributions to Bird Academy, he created the popular Be a Better Birder series of courses and live webinars and co-authored the university-level Ornithology: Comprehensive Bird Biology course.
Session 1: How To Get Started
Get to know the diversity of raptors from eagles and hawks to falcons and kites. Learn the best ways to get started identifying them—for raptors that means concentrating on shape and behavior.
Session 2: Other Things to Use
Build your raptor identification toolbox by considering how size, color pattern, markings, habitat, range, and calls can help narrow down your IDs. Looking for distinctive patches on the underwing and associating certain species with their preferred habitat will make a big difference.
Session 3: Buteos
Learn the key characteristics of the North American buteos, the broad-winged hawks. By paying special attention to wing shape, you’ll can master hawk ID even when you can only see silhouettes in the sky.
Session 4: Accipiters and Falcons
Explore the key characteristics of the North American short-winged accipiters and the long-winged falcons. Learn to distinguish the silhouettes both with wings spread and in a perched position.
Session 5: Eagles, Vultures, and Others
Focus on the very large raptors, including the eagles and vultures, as well as some other species that do not fit an easy classification. Get up to speed on how to use shape and behavior to tease apart these species in the field.
Session 6: Kites and Rarities
To complete your guided tour through the North American raptors, get to know the key characteristics of the kites, both the long-winged, widespread ones and the broad-winged rarities.
This series is entirely online and self-paced so you can take it at your own speed and come back to it as often as you wish. Instructional videos help you gain skills and understanding. All videos are closed-captioned and available through your web browser, no downloads required and nothing is shipped. For your convenience, the course is designed to work on all modern web browsers and devices. Access does not expire.
Hear What Students Have to Say
The Raptor series I purchased have been so well done I can't say enough good things on how much it has helped me. What a value for such terrific lessons and also a good cause to support Cornell. " Fred, Bird Academy Student
Even though I am an experienced birder I am surprised at how much I learn from this series and I look forward to more. " Terry, Bird Academy Student
Broke things down for me to help me ID these birds. Things Dr. McGowan said like (mnemonics) Broad Buteos and Fast, Furious Falcons are helpful. Also the notion of comparing a bird's wings and tail to its head and body length is great information. Thank you! " Barbara, Bird Academy Student
Course Instructor: Kevin McGowan
Course Developer: Lee Ann van Leer
Media Collections Manager: Matt Young