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This is a good example of, I hate when a bird is a bit too far to ID with binoculars and the images are just not great... (also wish I knew how to use my camera better... and/or how to adjust from photos in one background to another... far away sky birds are always dark for me in photos)

Anyway... saw this hawk the other week here in NW Arkansas... was looking at pictures the other day and, I'm not sure what to think.
Common birds, of course, would be RTHA and RSHA...  Broad-winged should be migrating soon, and I've heard a few lately... Coopers are here year round... 
This image is dark... I might go try to lighten it but, I doubt it will reveal much.
I want to jokingly say that it looks like a zone-tailed hawk to me in this pic...  Looks like a single big light colored band... where it looks lighter and darker on the wings could potentially fit as well...
But, this would be VERY unlikely around here.
Not impossible, of course...
But... I think it would be more likely for one to pass through, high, hard to see, and not noticed... than to have one stick around and be seen by many people. SO many birds, I believe, pass through places without a single observation... and many with just one single observation. I had a vermilion flycatcher one year that stuck around for many people to see. Someone else had one where they saw it for a minute, and then, no other reports that year anywhere near here. And my kiskadee in my yard that nobody else saw...
LOTS of examples out there... that make just about anything possible... But, I'm probably dreaming... Probably broad-winged??? 
Doesn't look right for RTHA or RSHA to me... But maybe too difficult to ID from this photo? This is zoomed in quite a bit.  Will I just leave this as hawk sp. on my list?

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Not that I was, at all, expecting it to be a zone tailed...
for my, hopefully, learning, can someone state what's wrong or missing in the pic to give it a "definitely not a zone-tailed?" 
I trust you on this one... with many birds(maybe not ALL) I like a little more info to hopefully help me learn ?

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4 hours ago, millipede said:

Not that I was, at all, expecting it to be a zone tailed...
for my, hopefully, learning, can someone state what's wrong or missing in the pic to give it a "definitely not a zone-tailed?" 
I trust you on this one... with many birds(maybe not ALL) I like a little more info to hopefully help me learn ?

Well, first of all, in the lightened image you can see wing patterns that could only match Broad-winged- like the dark border on the edges and wing shape. If this was a Zone-tailed, you'd be able to see the contrasting gray flight feathers even with this picture quality. The banded tail also fits Broad-winged Hawk, and the gestalt is just screaming Broad-winged at me. If this was a Zone-tailed, I'd definitely feel something was off.

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Good response... I appreciate it.

2 hours ago, Quiscalus quiscula said:

Well, first of all, in the lightened image you can see wing patterns that could only match Broad-winged- like the dark border on the edges and wing shape

While looking at a few different birds, including zone-tailed, there are others that will have a dark border, including the zone-tailed...
For wing shape, MAYBE I'll get better at that some day. Some birds, if the angle I'm viewing at is good and the way the wings are spread is typical, I can see differences for sure and get a good feel... like with the vultures... even when they're WAY up and you can't see the lighter feathers, I can typically spot a black vulture in with the turkeys pretty easily...... 
BUT...  This bird was at such a distance(I really zoomed in here) and I could not tell how it was flying, I couldn't go by the wing shape(personally) because it could have been holding the wings differently for varying flight. ALL birds will adjust from their typical soaring, even vultures, to look pretty weird at times.

 

2 hours ago, Quiscalus quiscula said:

If this was a Zone-tailed, you'd be able to see the contrasting gray flight feathers even with this picture quality.

This one, I can see now. I had to go look at pictures again... and not drawings but photos to see, I'd have that turkey vulture feel with lighter feathers really standing out. I never doubted anyone's ID in the first place but, this one makes it easy to see and agree with. Hopefully that sticks in my brain. ?

2 hours ago, Quiscalus quiscula said:

The banded tail also fits Broad-winged Hawk

This is the part that threw me. I feel like I see one BIG dark band and a single light band... where I feel I typically see a little more banding than that on the broad wings I see.
And the zone-tailed appears to have a big dark band and then a big light band, similar to what my untrained eyes see here.

If this bird was lower at the time, I would have ID'd it properly with just the binoculars...  but it was way up there.
And I didn't think I'd get an ID from the picture at all at first... Glad I took a photo though. SO many birds are there then gone... and if I can't ID them with binoculars, I TRY to get a picture to try and sort out later.
I don't always get back to them... but, sometimes I do. ?

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2 hours ago, chipperatl said:

You want to program one of your dials on your camera to adjust exposure compensation.  So when you get ready to take a shot of a bird in the sky, you turn the dial to over-expose the shot.  

That sounds like a good idea. One of these days, I need to learn how to use a camera and not just point and shoot. ? 
I feel like Bill and Ted when they said maybe it's time they learned how to actually play guitar... 
Why is it that learning how to do something I ENJOY doing is SO boring???  ack........ 

side note... I'm not sure I understand the moth numbers... there's three numbers there... but, I love that you don't just count birds.
I have, a few times, started to list mammals I've seen... and I enjoy ALL the other critters out there... but it's a lot to learn. There's probably a dozen or so butterflies I can identify on my own... and I take a lot of pictures of them. Just wish my brain was more like a computer and retained information more readily.  HA.

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8 hours ago, millipede said:

One of these days, I need to learn how to use a camera and not just point and shoot. ? 

A good place to start is with the camera's manual.

The DPreview forum specific to your camera model can be helpful with turning the instructions into practical steps.  The 'Nature & Wildlife' forum can contain good tips.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums

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12 hours ago, millipede said:

That sounds like a good idea. One of these days, I need to learn how to use a camera and not just point and shoot. ? 
I feel like Bill and Ted when they said maybe it's time they learned how to actually play guitar... 
Why is it that learning how to do something I ENJOY doing is SO boring???  ack........ 

side note... I'm not sure I understand the moth numbers... there's three numbers there... but, I love that you don't just count birds.
I have, a few times, started to list mammals I've seen... and I enjoy ALL the other critters out there... but it's a lot to learn. There's probably a dozen or so butterflies I can identify on my own... and I take a lot of pictures of them. Just wish my brain was more like a computer and retained information more readily.  HA.

YT search on your camera make and “wildlife photography settings” and I bet something comes up.  Back-button focus is another game changer.  

 

The first moth number is total seen, including those not identified to species, but higher up the taxonomy without another within it at species.  Bird example would be seeing an accipiter, but not identified to SSHA or COHA, would be a tick if never ID’ing down to species.  Next number is those to species, and the last is with actual confirmation on iNat.  I can’t ID all of them by sight for sure, so they take a lot of research and some trust of the Computer Vision ID at iNat.  

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