Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus)

The Common Black Hawk is one of Costa Rica’s predatory birds. With an almost entirely black body (only interrupted by a white tail band), it can look similar to a Black Vulture, however the yellow bill with hooked black tip sets it apart. The common name in Spanish is derived from their diet, which is mainly crabs and crustaceans. This means it is more common to find them at beaches or near a river’s mouth, where crabs are found in great numbers. While soaring, they resemble a Black Vulture, except for the white tail band, so it is better to look closely when a group of Black Vultures are flying overhead.

True to its name, we watched this hawk as it grabbed small crabs from the beach, then flying away and landing in nearby palm trees to eat them. At times it also joined Black Vultures in the thermal currents, flying in circles around us. This behavior seems to help them camouflage, as their prey would not differentiate between a Black Vulture and a Black Hawk at the heights they usually fly.

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