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" Hawk.
I have a huge passion for Baseball, Birds, and Botany (actually anything that begins with B). I recently graduated with my M.S. in Plant Biology. I currently teach freshman biology labs and also work for a non-profit in New Hampshire.
“Personally, I believe that there is a divine spark in us that binds us to the rest of creation, not merely as fellow creatures but as caretakers, with an earthly responsibility like the one we imagined for God. I’m not saying you can’t be a conservationist without this feeling — it’s just harder for me to understand what we owe the ivory-billed woodpecker without it.” - Jonathan Rosen
"Getting out into the field is not a means to the end, it itself is the end" - Jonathan Rosen
"In order to change the world we must first change our consciousness of it" - Jonathan Rosen