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Saw these two a couple days ago flying over my yard (Calgary, AB) and had them initially down as Harlan’s Red-tails, but then I saw a photo of a dark morph Rough-legged hawk and now I have confused myself on what’s different between them. Wondering if these are Dark morph roughies instead.... In this exact moment a Light morph Roughie flew over as well. Good thermals?

Both are relatively common right now 

Poor photos, I’m not very good at inflight shots to begin with and I was, by accident, in programmed auto so gotta good blur going. Too bad I guess, they’re pretty cool looking!218C2CB2-13DB-4E30-846D-6D5EC3F39BFF.thumb.jpeg.cbe7cb49c954099035e8585a4ec4d690.jpeg

I assume this photo makes them red tails as the tail appears reddish, but still not sure on the difference in the dark morphs of the two. 2C8BFDB0-212B-4C53-A816-D9D475FD8943.jpeg.b59d2da7033ca1bffb3d06ed0be008af.jpeg

Only thing I can maybe see is that these wings are not what I’d consider slender for a roughie, but still dunno. 

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Well, I think the bird on the right (and second photo) is a Harlan's, and the bird on the left I am not sure about.

The bird on the right could only be a juvenile Roughie, since it lacks the dark tail band of an adult dark-morph, or an adult Harlan's, and since it has that translucent panel at the wingtips typical of Red-tails.

The bird on the left seems to be either a young Harlan's or Roughie, but I am waffling between the two, with a lean towards Harlan's.

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Haha I guess I should have mentioned the raven!

I’d assume they’d both have to be the same species for them to be traveling together. 
I’ll keep them at Harlan’s on eBird, too embarrassed to upload the photos... I’ll keep an eye out for them and maybe try to get a better photo, in the right camera setting!

Fell into a rabbit hole trying to figure out the differences. Also did the same thing yesterday with an old photo of a lesser yellow legs that I almost convinced myself was actually a solitary sandpiper!

Thanks!

Edited by Aaron
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The right bird is a dark morph Red-tailed Hawk, not a Harlan's. In general, Harlan's tails do not have red or a faint subterminal band. In other words, there's no reason why this isn't just non-Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk (I don't remember the subspecies in AB). I'd be inclined to say the same for the left bird but it's too hard to see.

EDIT: Roughie is ruled out by the red in the tail and the lack of a substantial end of tail band (I'm pretty sure immatures have those too)

Edited by Melierax
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Thank you for the explanation! I’m out of reactions so I’ll get you later. 
Guess I gotta go edit. 
In eBird, every option for red-tailed is listed as rare except for Harlan’s so I’ll just switch to basic Red-tailed hawk. 
Think I’ll stay away from try to add subspecies, I guess I’m not ready for that! Gonna stick to the easy ones like Juncos and flickers.  Guess I gotta go study up.

 

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10 minutes ago, Aaron said:

Thank you for the explanation! I’m out of reactions so I’ll get you later. 
Guess I gotta go edit. 
In eBird, every option for red-tailed is listed as rare except for Harlan’s so I’ll just switch to basic Red-tailed hawk. 
Think I’ll stay away from try to add subspecies, I guess I’m not ready for that! Gonna stick to the easy ones like Juncos and flickers.  Guess I gotta go study up.

 

I have to do a little research, but I believe it would be abieticola ssp.

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There’s only two observations of abieticola around the city, with a handful up in the Edmonton zone, but I guess most  eBirders don’t use subspecies... 

I don’t know if these photos would be good enough for a reviewer to confirm them, but would be  neat to know what they are. Thanks!

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19 hours ago, Aaron said:

I’d assume they’d both have to be the same species for them to be traveling together. 

That's not a safe assumption.

 

2 hours ago, Melierax said:

In general, Harlan's tails do not have red or a faint subterminal band.

Not correct; some do have red tones, even red, in the tail and many or most have subterminal bands (see here). However, I don't see any real red tones in either buteo here.

 

19 hours ago, Avery said:

The bird on the right could only be a juvenile Roughie

19 hours ago, Avery said:

translucent panel at the wingtips typical of Red-tails

The right bird is an adult, as discerned by the strong black trailing edge to the wing, which means that it doesn't have the juvenile's translucent wing panel. The left bird is much more problematic, though it's vague trailing edge to the wings suggests a juv.

Juvenile Rough-leggeds have half-white, half-dark tails, while adults have wide black subterminal bands, with males having multiple additional tail bands. See these tail patterns:

Juvenile RLHA, underneath

Juvenile RLHA, above

Adult female RLHA

Adult male RLHA

 

 

Edited by Tony Leukering
typo fix
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5 minutes ago, Aaron said:

There’s only two observations of abieticola around the city, with a handful up in the Edmonton zone, but I guess most  eBirders don’t use subspecies

The weird thing is that a lot of eBirders use the subspecies entry when there's only one possibility, but not when they would actually have to figure out what subspecies, as in Red-taileds, which can be very tricky. Since abieticola is the closest form to Calgary that doesn't breed there, and since it occupies most of the Canadian taiga, you can safely assume that the form goes through Calgary both spring and fall. By studying Red-taileds in those seasons, one should be able to find them, as they're not all that tricky. They have huge and very blobby belly bands with markings on the upper sides connecting the belly band with the throat.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/244387171#_ga=2.162635388.1755868588.1602438046-1184313056.1549327880

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/224093931#_ga=2.162724604.1755868588.1602438046-1184313056.1549327880

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/172501561#_ga=2.196197996.1755868588.1602438046-1184313056.1549327880

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1 hour ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I figure I'm doing well to get the species correct.  

Actually, I have seen lots of birds reported to subspecies... of the wrong species. The most frequent is "Sharp-shinned Hawk (Northern)." As one might guess, a number of photos of Cooper's Hawks have been provided in that entry... as well as Broad-winged Hawks and Merlins.

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Thanks for the replies Tony! I’ll take a more in depth look tomorrow. I don’t really notice the differences of the red tails that flyover, but when I get a dark morph it’s hard to ignore. 

I don’t think eBird reviews photo submissions of common species, at least not right away. I think people have to flag them as wrong for eBird to notice them if I’m not mistaken. I know I’ve flagged photos that were labeled wrong for a couple of months before. Clark’s nutcracker that was called a magpie and a goldfinch that was called a western tanager. Side effects of citizen science I guess, but we all make mistakes! 

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