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Raptor Research and Management Techniques - Chapter: 2 Page: 49 - RAPTOR IDENTIFICATION, AGEING, AND SEXING

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Methods of Flight

Figure 1. Adult Verreaux's Eagle (Actuila verreauxii). Wing shape is
an important field mark, as shown on this African eagle.

(yir.S. Clark, Kenya)

Figure 2. Adult Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). In the Americas,
the Peregrine Falcon is the only falcon that, when perched, shows
wingtips reaching the tail tip. (yirS. Clark, Saskatchewan)

On the other hand, many raptor guides vary from very good to excellent. The very first field guide to show accurate wing and tail shapes in flight was Flight Identification of European Raptors (Porter et al. 1981). The authors, including the artist, are to be commended for this classic work. Although this guide is somewhat out of date, does not include perched raptors, and has only black-and-white drawings and photos, it is highly recommended. Following the lead of Porter et al. (1981), other raptor field and photo guides include Wheeler and Clark (1995), Morioka et al. (1995), DeBus (1998), Forsman (1999), Clark (1999a), Clark and Wheeler (2001), Coates (2001), Wheeler (2003a,b), and Ligouri (2005). Two other photo guides with good photos, but little information are Allen (1996) and Kemp and Kemp (1998).

The two most recent global handbooks for raptors, del Hoyo et al. (1994) and Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001), have some information on raptor identification, but their illustrations were produced primarily from museum specimens, often with simplistic "cookie cutter" wing and body shapes that don't resemble their real-life counterparts. The new world raptor field guide by the latter authors (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2005) uses most of the same museum-specimen plates. Several continental handbooks, including Cramp and Simmons (1980) for Europe, Palmer (1988) for North America, and Marchant and Higgins (1993) for Australia, contain much information and useful illustrations on raptor identification.

Other important sources of information for field identification include the many articles on the subject that have appeared in the peer-reviewed literature. There are too many of these to list all of them, but examples include Watson (1987), Brown (1989), Clark and Wheeler (1989, 1995), Clark et al. (1990), Shirihai and Doherty (1990), Clark and Schmitt (1993, 1998), Clark and Shirihai (1995), Debus (1996), Forsman (1996a,b), Alstrom (1997), Forsman and Shirihai (1997), Corso and Clark (1998), Clark (1999b), Corso (2000), and Rasmussen et al. (2001).

Raptors use one of four methods for flying. Recognizing which method they are using is important in identification. Raptors soar to gain altitude in rising air, usually in a thermal or a deflection updraft. When soaring, their wings are spread to the maximum with outer primaries often recognized as fingers and often with wrists

Tag: african blackandwhite eagle european falco falcon peregrine peregrinus raptors verreauxii



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