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Gordon Sick

What kind of hawk is fighting this Great Blue Heron

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I saw a Great Blue Heron fighting an unidentified hawk in the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast between Galveston and Freeport on Nov 16. The Heron is pretty intense. But, I can't ID the hawk. There is a light white line above the eyes, but the winter plumage isn't very distinct.

Opinions are welcome. Here are various views of the two birds._5D48248.thumb.jpg.1953a7af9f20a1192f00ba3087287df0.jpg_5D48239.thumb.jpg.f67f0cb188c4a8af41c7b6ee7a87fd62.jpg_5D48238.thumb.jpg.a703da40df15b211b3677838a240bef9.jpg_5D48236.thumb.jpg.ff22abce4bc01edd0d75b510b96e2e61.jpg_5D48233.thumb.jpg.17d8f086f39b7629d6230254c0706ee9.jpg_5D48220.thumb.jpg.29393e6abdaf6774dc4283af32a289f3.jpg_5D48215.thumb.jpg.4e972dd1bb4205bd03b2dd9b9c019123.jpg_5D48214.thumb.jpg.0953852fc4a541355458382ee8a8a7a7.jpg

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Yes, looks like a juvenile Red-tailed.  Pretty sure hawks don't have a special winter plumage.

Edited by The Bird Nuts
  • Like 1

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Welcome to Whatbird, Gordon Sick. I wonder if the hawk was trying to steal dinner from the heron during this encounter and the heron was fighting back for it's meal. The hawk is in the water's edge in a few shots and it looks like there is something visible right there where the hawk takes off from the water. Hawks are as opportunistic as most other birds and aren't above stealing for a free meal. That might explain the encounter between the two.

Edited by lonestranger

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1 hour ago, lonestranger said:

Welcome to Whatbird, Gordon Sick. I wonder if the hawk was trying to steal dinner from the heron during this encounter and the heron was fighting back for it's meal. The hawk is in the water's edge in a few shots and it looks like there is something visible right there where the hawk takes off from the water. Hawks are as opportunistic as most other birds and aren't above stealing for a free meal. That might explain the encounter between the two.

My thoughts exactly.

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Thanks for the ID. What makes it clear that it is a Red-tailed hawk, as suggested by two posters?

I didn't see what the hawk was doing before this started, but the hawk was thrashing in the water. It may have been trying to steal the Heron's fish, but I doubt it would try while the fish is in the Heron's mouth. OTOH, I have seen a Little Blue Heron eating a crab and it thrashed the crab, holding one leg at a time to rip the legs off. With this behaviour, the crab kept falling into the water. I can see a hawk jumping at an invitation like that if it wasn't too experienced about herons.

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1 hour ago, Gordon Sick said:

Thanks for the ID. What makes it clear that it is a Red-tailed hawk, as suggested by two posters?

I didn't see what the hawk was doing before this started, but the hawk was thrashing in the water. It may have been trying to steal the Heron's fish, but I doubt it would try while the fish is in the Heron's mouth. OTOH, I have seen a Little Blue Heron eating a crab and it thrashed the crab, holding one leg at a time to rip the legs off. With this behaviour, the crab kept falling into the water. I can see a hawk jumping at an invitation like that if it wasn't too experienced about herons.

The tail pattern,  dark patagial Mark's visible in one pic,  general look.

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