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Immature Red-Tailed or Rough-Legged Hawk? - Benton Co, OR

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I've been discussing this buteo with local Benton Co., OR birders but could use more assistance.  My initial, naked-eye impression was immature RTHA, but my bin views while the bird was transitioning to its "perch" showed clearly feathered tarsi.  I then grabbed the camera aware that this is a bit early for the species (10/7).  Unfortunately the photos don't offer as clear of a view of the tarsi given the posture and lighting.  The plumage doesn't initially suggest RLHA but after reviewing multiple guides & sites on this I came across a decent number of RLHA photos that seemed to match the plumage features.  Here is a good example:
Another found via google image search but I'm not sure how accurate the source is:  https://pixels.com/featured/immature-rough-legged-hawk-dennis-hammer.html



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Welcome to Whatbird!

My first impression was Red-tailed Hawk. I'm honestly not sure if the photos in the links you provided are Rough-legged Hawks (The shoulders are white, not black like in a RLHA in the first one and the tail in the second one supports Red-tail). I'm not sure they ever have that few markings on the belly and legs. also, the tail on your bird is striped and has very little white at the tip or the base which I believe heavily supports red-tail.

If you look at Rough-legged Hawk tail feathers vs Red-tailed Hawk feathers you can see the difference. (Red-tailed Hawk immature tail feathers are basically colorless versions of adult's).



Edited by Melierax
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  • 4 months later...

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