• Red cliffs descend into the water of Bighorn Canyon

    Bighorn Canyon

    National Recreation Area MT,WY


Canyon Raptors are carnivorous birds that use hooked bills, sharp talons, and keen eyesight to capture and devour their prey. Insects, small mammals, and other birds are hunted by raptors in the wide open spaces and high walls of the Bighorn Canyon.

Species of Raptors
An accipter is a small to medium size hawk with short, rounded wings and a long tail that allows for speed and maneuverability.

Buteos (Red-tailed and Rough-legged)
A buteo is a medium to large size hawk with broad wings and tail for soaring.

Falcons (Prairie and Kestrel)
A falcon's body is streamlined for speed, with long, pointed wings, a notched bill, and a long, narrow tail.

Bighorn Canyon Raptors - Specifics
Red-Tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Habitat: open country
Hunting: perching or soaring
Prey: small mammals, birds, reptiles & insects
Plummage: (common) light underneath with bar and streaks on belly, dark head and upper parts, and brick-red tail

Rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus)
Habitat: open country
Hunting: perching or hovering
Prey: small mammals & carrion
Plummage: (light phase) brownish above with light feather edgings, dark belly, white on base of tail and black on wrists

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
formerly called the sparrow hawk
Habitat: open & partly open country
Hunting: perching or hovering
Prey: small mammals, insects & vertebrates
Plummage: (male) slate-blue wings, a rufous back, a reddish tail, and head patches of slate-blue, black, white & rufous

Prairie falcon (Falco mexicannus)
Habitat: open country
Hunting: perching or flying low
Prey: small mammals, insects & reptiles
Plummage: sandy-brown upper parts, light breast and belly with dark markings, and brown markings on face referred to as a mustache; in flight, dark wing linings are visible

Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura)
Habitat: open country in summer
Hunting: keen eyesight
Prey: carrion
Plummage: (adult) head lacks feather and is red; in flight, pale gray feathers on trailing edge of wings contrast with dark body

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Habitat: mountainous & open country
Hunting: perching or soaring
Prey: small mammals, birds, reptiles & carrion
Plummage: (adult) solid-brown except for a golden buff crown and nape

Survival of the animals in the Bighorn Canyon depends of you. Please respect their home

Did You Know?

Evening primrose with red chugwater background, photo by Sharon Genaux

Of the 739 documented plant species at Bighorn Canyon, 14% are non-native. These invasive species can lead to fire hazards, degrade habitat, and cause soil erosion. More...