Monday, May 21, 2007

Unusual raptor follow-up

Thank you all for your direct replies, postings and blog comments regarding the "unusual raptor" seen in Queens last week. A majority of responses had very convincing arguments for immature Red-shouldered Hawk. A search of the Internet turned up several images of very similar looking individuals. Here is the latest comment with some useful diagnostics.

Rob:

It's an [immature] Red-shouldered Hawk.

First let's eliminate ALL falcons! All falcons have a perfectly round nostril opening: both your images show quite an elongated oval shape for this fleshy part. Therefore it's not a falcon of any species in the world. [Look at some close-up falcon photos online and you'll see this.]

Just about every buteo species, light morphs, have a malar mark [moustache]. This is not a falcon tell.

Your bird is lightly spotted below the bib and has long legs. A Broadwing would have blotchy spotting on the flanks and lower belly; often chunky and short-legged. A bird this lightly marked, if it were a Broadwing, would have a clear, unstreaked area on the upper breast, in between a heavier pair of malar marks!

Thanks for posting the images... just can't get enough hawk photos.

Thomas L. Carrolan

1 comment:

steve.nanz said...

Just to follow up, my wife, Heidi, saw the bird in flight at close range with several others before Rob and I arrived. She later described the bird as large with the underside of wings pale edged in black. None of the observers present, including Heidi, gave Broad-wing consideration. The confusion among those present was between buteo and accipiter - a classic problem with Red-shouldered. We settled on Accipiter with Rob being the one hold out. (A day or two later, when we were looking at the Sibley Guide, Heidi became convinced it was a Red-shouldered.)

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