Differentiating Accipitriformes Skulls (Simplified, USA)

Skull images credit to skullsite.com and Royal CS Museums' Avian Osteology.
This is an incomplete and oversimplified guide, but helpful for me to review back to and potentially link to when IDing, or as a good introduction for people looking to start building knowledge on osteology of the skulls of birds of prey. Unfortunately I lack reference material for many of the unlisted Accipitriformes and they therefore had to be excluded, but this covers some of the most common. If anyone wants more specific advice, please comment or message me

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

-Massive size (12 or more cm)
-Almost entirely, and in some specimen entirely, solid sheet of bone between eyes (circled)
-Extremely pronounced and thick beak


Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

-About bald eagle sized (12 cm) but:
~Has perforation in sheet of bone between eyes
~Has smaller bill


[for a more in depth comparison of golden vs bald eagle skeletons, see https://tinyurl.com/mzpcz1n8]

Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

-Completely unique bill shape, exceptionally delicate and curved


Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

-Round and almost circular nasal (circled)
-Particularly curved bill


Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

-Comparatively slender frontal (circled)

(https://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Natural_History/Bones/Species-Pages/NOHA.htm for harrier, other two skulls from skullsite)

Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)

-Yellow on bill sheath


(pictured is a red tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis)

-Typically larger than Accipiter, but much smaller than Golden or Bald eagles
-More straight posterior
-More narrow opening in sheet of bone between eyes (circled)
-Nasal a "triangular oval", more open and clean


(Pictured is coopers hawk Accipiter cooperii)

-Wider and larger opening in between bone sheet that separates eyes
-More rounded posterior
-Nasals tend to vary across Accipiter, not as evenly shaped


Publicado por lizardking lizardking, 15 de febrero de 2021


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