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Posts posted by smittyone@cox.net

  1. Images captured in January last year in NW Missouri.  Another one of those immature (yellow eyed) Red-tailed Hawks with a brick red tail.  I think I originally called this one an Eastern, but now have 2nd thoughts.  Because of the "blobby" underside, and light base of the tail, I'm going with a young (maybe light morph)_ Northern abieticola.  What do you guys think?

    Also, because several of my recent Red-tailed Hawks were misidentified (by me), I'm now re-thinking many of my earlier calls.  Expect a bunch of older, some maybe even seen before, pics to be posted for ID confirmation.   



  2. The attached map was borrowed from the redtailedhawkproject.org.  Although not indicated, I presume it depicts Red-tailed Hawk's breeding range.  Based on this map, my birding area in eastern Nebraska southward, put's me in the western middle of borealis territory.  But kriderii range is also within that same range.  Where I typically bird, there aren't any boreal forests or higher humidity regions, where the "darker" versions of borealis should normally be seen.  Therefore, my simplified logic dictates that, except for migration season, most, if not all the Eastern Red-tailed Hawks I encounter should all (or mostly) be Plains-type.  What do I call borealis in my area that aren't the lighter Plains-type? 


  3. 1 minute ago, Jerry Friedman said:

    Mike Borlé: As I mentioned the lack of any molt at all, and lack of a thick, dark trailing edge on the flight feathers should be enough to convince anyone that thought this bird was an adult. I'm beating a dead horse a bit here, that's for sure!

    Speaking of "for sure", I'm sure the hawk in your excellent new photos is the original one.

    Wait...are we talking about the same bird?  I though we'd settled on it being a juvenile.

    • Like 1
  4. It seems after a quick review of all of my Krider's hawks, using the above pale "Plains" Eastern (borealis) as a reference, it seem that many, if not most of what I thought were Krider's, have been misidentified.  I'll still post them here just to be certain.

    I do still need clarification (in simplified terms) what a "Plains" version of borealis is.  Is it a regional difference, or a plumage difference, or both.  Are all pale borealis considered "Plains-type"?  Because if that's the case, I have A LOT of them in my area.  Is Plains the only sub-subspecies of borealis, or are there others?  

  5. I'm glad we've identified this bird.  On the downside, now I have to submit every light Eastern Red-tailed Hawk I've ever called a Krider's.  Every one of them, like this one, photographed within 20 miles of the Missouri River (both sides) from Missouri Valley in Iowa down to Mound City in Missouri.  At least Jerry's FB experts will have a few more to mull over.  Almost make me want to re-join Facebook again, no, wait...no it doesn't. 

    • Haha 3
  6. From ADW, "Five subspecies of Buteo lineatus are recognized. These subspecies are separated based on geography and physical characteristics. The head and breast markings of the Florida subspecies, Buteo lineatus extimus and Buteo lineatus alleni, are slightly paler than other Red-shouldered hawks. The California subspecies, Buteo lineatus elegans, and the Texas subspecies, Buteo lineatus texanus, however, have vibrant, deep red markings on the lesser secondary upperwing coverts, underwing coverts and breast. (Christopher, 1990; Clark and Wheeler, 2001; Crocoll, 1994; Whetmore, 1965; Woodward, et al., 1931)"

    This publication mentions 5 subspecies, then only lists 4 of them.  Maybe I should just stick to Red-tailed Hawks.  Time for more aspirin.

    • Like 2
  7. So there's a 4th and/or 5th subspecies of Red-shouldered Hawk?

    I'm fine with delving into subspecies (to a degree), but I'm not touching sub-subspecies.

    If I understand, west coast and Florida versions are delineated, but eastern CONUS is generic?  Or are you saying the eastern "Group" also includes the two south Texas ones?

    Non-related remark.  After photographing about a dozen Red-shouldered Hawks over the last couple of years, every single one has been in NW Missouri, and every one has been an immature bird.  I have seen an adult only once (also NW MO), and a photo was impossible.  

    Two species who's plumage differ drastically from young until adult are Bald Eagles (of course) and Northern Harriers.  I'm sure there's many more.  But I'm not so sure this young bird's plumage is just a "variation" since it's the only one I've encountered that looked like that.  If it was perhaps one of the subspecies that's not normally seen in the area, that would make more sense to me.  



  8. I've been going through the archives again and dredged this one up.  This buteo was seen waaay back in August 2021 at Loess Bluffs, MO, and identified by you good folks as a young Red-shouldered Hawk.  I agree with that call.  But when I searched for corroborating images of what a  young Red-shouldered Hawk should look like, I found a handful that looked nearly identical to mine.  But only a handful.  Most of the other pics of immature birds that I found looked more like I though a Red-shouldered Hawk "should" look like--not very much different than an adult.  So, long winded preface out of the way, why does it look like this?  Is it a newly fledged bird?  Do they go through more than one plumage stage before displaying full adult features?  


    Follow-up questing regarding Red-shouldered Hawk in general.  According to eBird, there are three subspecies.    Buteo lineatus extimus in Florida, Buteo lineatus elegens along the west coast, and Buteo lineatus Group for the entire eastern half of the CONUS.  What is lineatus "Group" mean?


  9. I think I interpreted the underwing ID as "primary" from an excerpt from the same source above "LIGHT-PHASE SUMMARY Figure I illustrates the underside patterns of the six light-phase buteos. The diagnostic field marks for correctly identifying these buteos are mostly on the underwing and are summarized below by species: (Unless otherwise noted, remarks apply to both adults and immatures.)".  I bolded and italicized the pertinent part of the text.

    Dumb, probably rhetorical question.  Since an Eastern Red-tailed Hawk has only one (light) color morph, then there's no reason to call it a light morph when describing it in my photo captions, right.

    I think you guys are correct regarding "phase".  I usually see it in older publications.  Maybe the term went out of favor?  I think the term "forms" may also have a similar, no longer favored use.

    I may eventually memorize the more commonly used scientific names, but you'll never hear me say "Is that a (Buteo jamaicensis borealis) sitting in that tree?

    How come some folks don't like the 4 letter codes?  I find it way easier to type RTHA than spelling out Red-tailed Hawk.

    If I've learned anything from this site, it's that I absolutely have to get more familiar with specific bird anatomy.  Better than 50 percent of the answers I get here lead me to look up a bird's body part, especially wing parts. 





    • Like 4
  10. Going through the archives again...

    This Northern Harrier was photographed waaay back in October 2020 in NW Missouri.  Although the breast has some buffyness (is that a word), it also too much streaking for an immature.  I initially thought it was an adult female, but there's too much white under the wings, and an adult female should have brown eyes.  Taking all of that into consideration, could this be an immature male?  Or is this a stretch, and I'm trying too hard?  




    • Like 1
  11. More "no photo" generic ID questions.  Please let me know if there's a more appropriate sub-forum I should be posting these types of questions in.

    In an effort to stop continuously posting various birds (usually buteos) for sub-species identification here, I'm trying to research and learn them myself (it's about time).  I need clarification on the terminology that I'm encountering.  Too many big scientific words, and too many conflicting sources.

    1) First of all, the terms color phases and color morphs seem to be used interchangeably, but in actuality, they're not the same thing, right?  If I understand correctly, a "phase" is more akin to adult vs. juvenile/immature plumage.  A color morph, on the other hand, is just a plumage difference between adults of the same species.  For example, light, intermediate (or rufous), and dark morph Rough-legged Hawk.  Would the distinction between, for example, an adult male and an adult female/immature Northern Harrier be because of their different phase?  Or are these field marks?

    2) Also, although the topside and underside of the tail are great ID features, the PRIMARY feature I should be looking at is the underside of the wings, right?  I don't know why I still ignore that and concentrate on the body.  More of a statement than a question.

    3) Eastern RTHA specific question.  One source says there are 3 color morphs, while another says there is only one color (light).  I tend to lean toward the latter.  I think you folks (a long time ago) have told me that as well.

    4) What does different "forms" of a species mean?  Subspecies?  For example, from Flight Identification of Common North American Buteos, William S Clark, in reference to Red-shouldered Hawks, quote: "There are three recognizably different forms of this species. The nominate race (Buteo I. lineatus) and similar races (B.l. alleni and B.l. texanus) occupy all of North America east of the Great Plains, except the Florida Peninsula where the Florida race (B.l. extimus) occurs. There is a geographically distinct population of this species in California (B.l. elegans)." And if this actually does talk about subspecies of RSHA, are there no "common or shorthand" names associated, or just the scientific names?

    5) Lastly, I'm kind of nitpicking here.  But why so much use of scientific names here?  For example, I may ask "Is this a Western RTHA?", and a response may be "Yes, looks good for calarus to me."  Why?  Now I have to go look up what a calarus is. I'm beginning to learn these out of necessity, but I certainly don't have them all memorized.  It's tough enough that I have to learn bird anatomy and field marks.  What the heck is a speculum, or a malar strip, etc.

    I know many of these questions are not buteo-specific, but I lean more towards those.  Maybe because there's a lot more variety and they're more challenging to me.  Although I'm picking up a lot of terminology, I'm afraid I may be using some of it wrong.  Any help would be appreciated, and please dumb down your answers.







  12. Seen 2 weeks ago in western Iowa.  I'd call this a dark-banded immature Eastern RTHA.  I'm pretty sure (correct me if I'm wrong), Northern, Western, and Harlan's RTHAs all have 3 color morphs, but Easterns have none.  Most of the Eastern RTHAs that I see have a light or virtually no belly band.  This individual however had a darker belly band made up of blackish teardrops.  Is it still just a Buteo jamaicensis borealis with a dark belly band, or something else?




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