Monday, June 29, 2009

Answer to Quiz Bird #4

FINALLY! Here's the way to identify the bird:

So here we have a raptor of some sort. The stocky stature, relatively
small bill and short tail are quite unlike any eagle, accipiter or
falcon, so we're left with the Buteos (and a few near-buteos --
Harris's and Common Black Hawks). The white head and dark eye of this bird is truly striking and happens to quickly limit our options. Only
Swainson's, Ferruginous, Rough-legged, the florida race of
Red-shouldered Hawk, and a few of the plethora of Red-tailed Hawk
plumages can show anywhere near this much white on the head.
Ferruginous and Rough-legged Hawks have feathered tarsi (the lower
part of the bird's "leg"), and our bird has bare tarsi.
Red-shouldered Hawk never shows a striking white head like our bird
(just a pale gray head), and should have a banded tail. This leaves
us with Swainson's and Red-tailed Hawks. Juvenile Swainson's (the
only plumage with a pale head), has a dark malar stripe, which our
bird doesn't. Swainson's Hawks also always have dark tails, quite
unlike the pale grayish tail on this bird. So that leaves us with our
familiar Red-tailed Hawk. Indeed, the silhouette of our bird is
quite similar to Red-tailed Hawk, but with some pretty wacky plumage.
Throughout most of Red-tailed Hawk's range, it's a highly variable
bird, with each individual looking a little different. This is
especially true in the Great Plains, where most birds have some
combination of the pale grayish tail, partially or mostly white head,
and white back that this bird shows. This bird falls on the extreme
pale end of Red-tailed Hawk, and is what is often called a "Krider's"


dAwN said...

Excellent explanation Lowie..
Great post!

birdiehaynes said...

So, It is a Krider's. I thought so, RT Hawks can be quite confusing with all these different plumages. I worked in a Raptor Education program for a while. We used non-releasable rehab birds. One of the birds we had was a solid white Red Tailed. Not an albino though, the eyes were dark. Beautiful bird!

Lowie said...

Thanks Dawn - its actually Ben's write up though. His photo, his idea, his work.

birdiehaynes - Very cool!


Cindy Lenker said...

I would have had zero idea...but it was great learning about it.