Please feel free to comment, correct me if I am wrong, or provide helpful tips of any kind

Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Sep 7, 2010

Ferruginous hawk update

So here it is, the latest news on the hawk that I was 90 percent certain might be a Ferruginous Hawk.

An expert has  pointed out that this hawk is lacking certain features that mark a Ferruginous Hawk.   For instance this bird's legs are not covered in feathers to the feet and it lacks the wide yellow gape of the Ferruginous Hawk.  While I am disappointed, I must  accept the fact that in my enthusiasm I have obviously made an identification error.  A second look at my photos has confirmed my mistake.  To the inexperience eye the two species of hawk appear to be very similar, depending on whether they are light or dark phased, however, I will admit that I am now somewhat confused as to this bird's identity.

Hawk flying low

Hawk above in flight

It lacks the characteristic shoulder markings of a Red-Tailed hawk that are supposed to be the one identifying feature of a Red-tailed hawk that is constant.  Also it is lacking the characteristic red tail which might simply mean  that this is an immature bird, as the red tail does not come in until it's second year of life.  So while it could also be one of fourteen subspecies of the Red-Tailed hawk, the missing shoulder marking underneath the wing is casting some doubt for me.   "Dark Patagial Mark - this mark should be visible on all light phase Red-tailed Hawks of all sub-species.  Look for this field character first."  I got this information at the following link:  http://www.birdwatching-bliss.com/red-tailed-hawk-identification.html  Another website states the following about Red-Tailed Hawk identification:

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 18 inches Wingspan: 48 inches
  • Sexes similar
  • Short, dark, hooked beak
  • Large, broad-winged, broad-tailed hawk
  • Immatures have notably narrower wings and tail, and appear slimmer
  • Dark patagial mark on underwing, present on all ages and races, is unique
  • Blocky translucent area in outer primaries
  • Flies with a dihedral
  • Extraordinary geographic variation 
Here is the link: http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i3370id.html

Hawk above soars

This bird is also lacking the elbow markings of the Rough-legged hawk and the dark edge on bottom of the wing of a broadwing hawk.  Follow these links to see for yourself.

Since I am by no means an expert on raptor identification and am undecided as to this bird's identification, I will list this bird as a mystery for now, and hope that at some point in the future I will be able to positively identify it.  Obviously more research and learning is required on my part, which is all good as far as I am concerned, as I will be able to share what I learn here.



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