Raptors are a family of birds that maintain a wonderful but often discreet presence in and around Davis. During the spring and summer months, Swainson's Hawks (a state endangered species) can be found breeding near Putah Creek. If you are a raptor fan, venturing out into the agricultural fields during winter can reward you with some spectacular sights and a chance to see a wide variety of species. Check out John Kemper's guide to Yolo Farmland birding. If you just want to get up close and personal with a few large birds of prey, be sure to visit the California Raptor Center on campus.
These raptors can be seen around Davis seasonally or yearly depending on the species.
Cooper's Hawk — Sometimes seen on campus, by Wellman lawn. Crow-sized hawk that flies low instead of soaring. White/black bands on tail often visible. Eats birds. Sometimes responsible for the pigeon wings seen around campus lacking a pigeon body
Northern Harrier — Most common hawk here seen low to the ground. White rump patch. Flies near ground with wings oft. in a slight V
Red-tailed Hawk — Most common hawk here seen soaring
(note: the new world vultures are usually considered to be in the order Ciconiiformes
just like the pretty egret at the top of the birds and birdwatching page)
This raptor is diving to catch a vole. I don't know what he is and I hope a bird expert can fill in some details.—GrumpyoldGeek The Enterprise wrote a story about a snow owl being spotted south of Davis. This picture look s like the one in the enterprise. JimSchwab
It is a nice picture of a White-tailed Kite. Striking birds that often look all white when seen against a gray Davis winter sky, they are one of the few birds to actively hover in place. You can see them, wings up, flapping to stay in place deciding whether to dive for prey. When doing so, they sometimes look like an angel looking down at us, in my opinion. They are regularly in the Davis area, but not seen every day. Snowy owls are very rarely seen in the Davis area (thus, it was considered newsworthy). You wouldn't see one taking a rodent in so much daylight, like with this raptor. At night, if you see a bird that you want to call a Kite, it is probably a Barn Owl or Great Horned Owl. — NotTires
FWIW, I often see white-tailed kites along the right hand side of the 113 freeway heading south from Woodland towards Davis at about 4:15pm. They're generally doing the flap-hover thing that NotTires mentions, looking for something to eat. -AlexPomeranz
Thank you for that tip, Alex. I think white-tailed kites are rather exciting raptors since you don't see them as often as the regular red-tails and cooper's—plus their plumage is so striking. -CaitlinMorrow
Spotted in in the West Pond area.