How do you tell and Eagle feather from a Hawk feather?

Submitted by Michele on 10/23/2003. ( )

Does anyone know how to identify feathers? I have a general idea of what an Eagle and Hawk feather looks like, but have no idea how to identify one if I found it.

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eagle feather

This response submitted by rock_dove on 10/23/2003. ( )

eagle feathers should be bigger then a hawk feather?


This response submitted by DaveT on 10/23/2003. ( )

One way might be to see what fine you are given by the fed game warden for having an illegal bird of prey feather? Better have a permit


If your in the North America

This response submitted by jon on 10/23/2003. ( )

You should be able to tell the two apart by size. Both Golden and Bald Eagles are considerably larger than any of the hawks. Some of the owl speices may be closer in size to eagle feathers, however the colorations will be completely different.

If you plan on keeping the feather, I would do so outside, in a very natural place where it has free roam, as bringing it indoors and taking possession of it, would be illegal. If you're in Canada, your laws are different.


Extra year!

This response submitted by Barry on 10/23/2003. ( )

An eagle feather will get you an extra year in the pokey!

Spare me please....................

This response submitted by Porter on 10/23/2003. ( )

It's so nauseating to listen to the lectures on here from the "know it alls" about the legalities of blah blah blah. Just answer the question or not, but spare us please of your condescending remarks under the guise of "just trying to protect people".

The answer is easy

This response submitted by Coyote on 10/24/2003. ( )

Leave both alone since they're both illegal to possess in the first place.

Reference site

This response submitted by Wouter on 10/24/2003. ( )

I don't know a reference for loose feathers, but there is a website from an American university which shows a great number of wings of native birds, on which the individual feathers are quite well visible:
Of course, this won't help you to ID tail or body feathers.
Indeed it would be nice if a simple general question about raptors can be answered without all that smart ass BS about fines and jailterms. There are many countries (like mine) with a government that acknowledges the fact that birds aren't immortal, and that they do die of natural causes and accidents. Just a short remark (once)with the answer to the question (like: "if you happen to live in the US, be sure to have the right permits for working with raptors") will do, thank you very much.


Agree with Porter

This response submitted by Legal Beagle on 10/24/2003. ( )

For those of you who browse this sight just waiting to pounce on someone who just wants a simple answer, I hope you feel like bigger better people when you go to bed at night. By the way nice response by Wouter, resourceful, respectful, and to the point.

It was good advise

This response submitted by DaveT on 10/24/2003. ( )

You would be surprized to find out how many folks do not know the laws for the two folks above who have no sense of humor...... eat crap


...Just cut it out....

This response submitted by Jerry Geyhawk on 10/24/2003. ( )

You guys....How many times have I said to folks not to go on these sites with questions about raptors?You may as well ask questions about how to boost your heroin smuggling operation.The folks on these sites,these so -called "experts" are too chicken crap to answer a few simple ass questions about birds of prey for fear that they will be swarmed upon by the feather SWAT team.These folks profess to give you advice about what to do,but they are very nasty about it and are just doing it to cover their own asses!There are many more sources to go to if you have questions about raptors and the feathers many of us come across,and just cause you're holding it in your hand doesn't mean they slap the cuffs on you and if the game commission in your state operates this way(as they do in mine) then you might want to consider moving(as I am).I understand ignorance is no excuse,but lets be a little kind about how you answer,and as My momma used to say(GOD REST HER):If you can't say nuthin' nice. don't say nuthin' at all.Jery Greyhawk.

Funny little story

This response submitted by jon on 10/24/2003. ( )

I believe I was 21 years old, and I was out fishing with my father. WEll low and behold we got spot checked for our fishing lisence. When I went to grab mine out of the truck, a Great Horned Owl tail feather that I innocently picked up and had riding in my sun visor fell out. Well not only did I get cited for a crappie that was too small, but I got cited for having possession of the owl feather as well... ONE feather! That I innocently picked up becuase I thought it was pretty...

Since the judge was a family friend, the crappie citation got thrown out of court. I paid a $750 fine plus two days of community service for the owl feather...

When I picked up the feather, I knew better.. I was practicing taxidermy at that time and was very much aware of the laws. I toyed with fate and got burned.

I guess it's kinda like those Cable TV theft commericals... You never think it will happen to you....

I'm not here to argue opinions with anyone. I just wished someone had been around when I was 21 and thumped me on the head and said "you know, that might not be a good idea," I might be a little richer today.


Come on John.....................

This response submitted by Bubba on 10/24/2003. ( )

......................confess. That story seems made up? Bubba.

OK, here goes

This response submitted by Nancy M. on 10/24/2003. ( )

Generally speaking, all of the eagles that I have seen have had rather plain, unmarked body feathers that are dark blackish or brownish with the lower part being white and with very long-fibered silky white down near the base. Some will be a little bit splotchy looking, but still 2-toned dark with white. The tailfeathers can have some pattern to them, but they will be huge compared to any hawk feather. Same goes for the wing feathers. The white head feathers from a bald eagle are so nondescript that they are hard to tell from chicken feathers.
Hawk feathers are harder to describe because there are dozens of kinds of hawks in N. America. Generally, they tend to be soft textured, very downy and whitish at the base, and barred or splotched with various earth tones. I can't get much more specific without knowing what kind of raptor it is and what part of its body the feather came from.
Owl feathers are incredibly soft and the wing and tail feathers look like they are covered with thick flannel.
I like Jon's idea. Keep the feathers outside where they have free range and can come and go as they please. No fences, containers, weights or leashes. A wild bird might gather them in the spring and line her nest with feathers from the same bird that ate her babies the year before. Ya never know.

I swear Bubba

This response submitted by jon on 10/25/2003. ( )

it's 100% true. I do confess, the only reason, she charged me for anything was the gamewarden was present I was supprised to find out that the fine for the Crappie was the more expensive of the two citations. It just one of those things, until you've had a gamewarden disect your freezers and records, you just think it's a bunch of hog wash... But believe they do check, and THEY DO RIGHT tickets.

Gosh, didn't mean to stir things up!

This response submitted by Michele on 10/26/2003. ( )

WEll! I've certainly learned alot about feathers! Not how to id them, but what to do when I find them. Thanks to all of you who laid into the "know it alls", I appreciate the support. I collect feathers, and never knew if I found one on the ground I shouldn't pick it up or keep it. Maybe I should climb a mountain with all my feathers, and throw them to the prevailing winds. I would never harm ANY bird, and it's a shame people aren't allow to have such beautiful works of art from Mother Nature. If the birds lose their feathers, why can't people pick them up as well as other birds to build nests? Sorry, I'm rambling. Anyway, thanks for all your comments.

I agree completely, Michele

This response submitted by Nancy M. on 10/26/2003. ( )

I collected feathers from the time I could barely walk and I never harmed a bird to get them. Some of my greatest prizes were two feathers from a Phillipine Monkey Eating eagle. Only a wing covert and an axillar, but they were given to me through the wire by the zookeeper himself in the early 60's. (I used to be really little and cute ... sigh ...)
I very sadly donated my 25-plus years' collection to a nature center when I got my taxidermy license.
The laws are stupid, but the animal rights activists will fight tooth and nail to keep them from being changed. In addition, the native Americans STRONGLY covet their "politically correct" right to be the sole legal possesors of raptor and wild bird feathers.
Maybe if one of Bill Gates' kids got arrested for picking up a moulted feather .... (nah, on second thought, they are probably programmed to be afraid of germs ... but, anyway, that would be the kind of money and clout that would be needed to change the law.)

....stirrin' up a hornets nest....

This response submitted by Jerry Greyhawk on 10/27/2003. ( )

Oh Nancy,Miss nancy....our right to possess raptor feathers is not a political one,but A GOD-GIVEN one,so I disagree with your statement.Our people fought long and hard to keep that right because at one time,it was even illegal for us to have them.Raptor feathers,especially eagle,are used in many of our ceremonies and prayer,and yes,even we need permits for them,and even then "they" give us a hard time about it.These are sacred items and I do understand that many people misuse them and have created a black market to support the trend,and I too believe the law is archaic and stupid,but we don't write the laws ,do we?My people did not kill the birds off and we are made to pay the price for it.On the other hand you got yahoos who think that if we're allowed to have them,we should all be allowed to,thus causing more conflict between us and the NON INDIAN inhabitants of this place.It's not an easy thing,even for us ,to acquire them.Example...If an ornithologist and a Native both applied for an eagle tail,one for science, the other for spiritual,the orni will get his request granted quickly, sometimes within weeks,while the Native is made to wait years(I'm still waiting for my bird,and even thpough my request was granted,it has been 4 years)WHY?No answer on my part.Then you wonder why some people turn to other means of acquiring.So think before you speak....or suffer for your words.Good luck in all your endeavors and stay clear of the men in black.

I'm not a racist.

This response submitted by Nancy M. on 10/27/2003. ( )

What I mean by that is that I consider all people to be equal in God's sight, and that NO race of people should be persecuted or priveleged in any way simply because of their physical heredity. I consider the essence of a human being to be the spirit they were born with, not the pedigree.
My Germanic and British Isle ancestors had great spiritual reverence for the raven and the golden eagle, as well as numerous songbirds, and all figure prominently in the surviving legends which have been handed down through history. Of course, there might be a lot more of that history remaining if the various groups that repeatedly overran them had been as "politically correct" as the Europeans who conquered North America.
Humans are not a very nice species. Every single surviving group of humans, including the current Native American tribes, got where they are today by exterminating or absorbing the ones that were there before them. The whole concept of preserving a conquered race's culture is, historically speaking, a brand new idea, and the verdict is still out as to whether or not it will ultimately be judged helpful or harmful. It will take several more centuries for society to make an informed decision.
Meanwhile, if you look at global trends, there is a good chance that radical Islam may make the whole subject a moot point within a few more generations.

Science eagles easy

This response submitted by Wouter on 10/27/2003. ( )

Jerry, are you serious that a biologist who applies for a dead eagle gets it granted quickly? I work for a Dutch university as curator of birds, and also co-webmaster of our internetmuseum of bird skulls an skeletons, I thought it would be nice for our many American visitors to give a skull of your national bird, the Bald Eagle, a place on our website, and planned to contact the US eagle repository (the eagle distribution center for indians). However, I was told by an American friend that I would be wasting my time, I would only get an eagle if there were no Indian apllicants left (in other words: not in a million years). Maybe I should give it a try anyway.
I agree with Nancy that no privileges should be given to certain groups of people based on race or ethnic background. However, I think the eagle repository centre is a good idea. If the use of eagle parts in native craftworks is such an old tradition, it would be very hard to prevent poaching if no legal alternatives are offered. As an (non-American) outsider I may have a suggestion for a compromise: Only Indians can apply for an eagle via the eagle repository, where eagles end up which are found by government officials, by people who are not interested in keeping a dead bird, or from rehab centres. However, the lucky person who happens to find a dead (non-poached) eagle should be able to get a license to keep it, regardless his race, nationality or ethnic background. Yes, I know the people on this forum don't make the laws, but many of you are convinced the man in black are watching you here. So maybe the people who do make the laws read our stuff as well.


Thanks Wouter...

This response submitted by Jerry Greyhawk on 10/29/2003. ( )

Wouter...I am serious when I say this because my sister-in-law, who is a wildlife biologist,and a Non-Indian,got her bird within a few weeks.She says it was a fluke,but I beg to differ on that,call it political thing,whatever.She also offered to help me get mine sooner,but I politely declined because I shouldn't need her to get something that should be rightfully mine anyway.I too believe like you that if you find a dead bird,you have every right to be allowed to keep it,but as I said before,we don't write the laws,and as for the eagle repository,they tend to be selective about who gets what,Indian or not....just their way of keeping track is all.I would rather see the birds alive than dead and I despise poachers and the problems they have caused for all of us ,and unfortunate to say,its Indians themselves who break the laws and make it even harder for the rest of us to get what we need.Every time the gov. busts an eagle poaching ring,they delay all requests for birds until thay "sort out" the mess,causing great resentment towards all involved.And thats not to say there is nothing going on within,which I am not afraid to point out......stay tuned.

Think you got a story jon....check this out.

This response submitted by Jerry Greyhawk on 10/29/2003. ( )

Check this out and it's no lie.....I HAVE A FRIEND IN ANOTHER STATE(OF COURSE i WON'T MENTION IT)who had a beautiful red-tail hawk fan.She had it for years and would dance it at powwows and would use it in prayer.One year as she was traveling home form a gathering,she caught a flat tire and as she got out of her car to check.....who would you guess pulled up behind her but theG.D. Game Officer!He offered to help her ,butthen....needless to say because she didn't have a permit for that particular item,it was confiscated and she was fined pretty heavily and also had to do community service.That following year,she was at a powwow and lo and behold! another woman was dancing in the circle....with HER FAN!She approached the woman about a possible trade for it.She had some eagle feathers,all legal with papers,to trade with.The woman was happy to do so,and when asked why she was so quick to part with it,she replied "oh, my boyfriend is a game officer and I got it from him!I could always get another one....she was taken aback that this could happen!Needless to say she got her fan back and has pressed charges against the state for her fine and the trouble,also launched a full investigation against the officer who took the fan to begin with.Don't know what happened after this but I hope he got the shaft and she got compensated.Sometimes the its the law enforcers who are the biggest law breakers......It must be a bitch to bite into the perfect apple and find it's full of worms.....think about it.

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