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This hawk was seen in Sheep River Prov Park, in SW Alberta, Canada (eastern slopes of the first mountains).

Date: Oct 5, 2018 at 11:30am.

The tree this hawk was perched on overlooks a steep canyon on one side.

 

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I was thinking immature intermediate swainson's, but can we eliminate that based on the light eye? Otherwise it would be red-tailed.

Scott

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Swainson's would also have primaries extending beyond the tip of the tail. I'd call this an immature Red-tailed Hawk, possibly Harlan's based on how dark it is.

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I believe Harlan's is consistent with the heavy white mottling, white throat, and white around the eye--though that rectangular "frame" around the eye strikes me as really weird.  If I'm not mistaken, the white throat makes other dark-morph Red-tails a tough sell.

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2 hours ago, Liam said:

Swainson's would also have primaries extending beyond the tip of the tail. I'd call this an immature Red-tailed Hawk, possibly Harlan's based on how dark it is.

I was thinking that, but couldn't really make out tail from wing.

Red-tailed was my feeling as well, but just wanted opinions.

Scott

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Here is one more photo showing the breast and undertail a bit better. Almost doesn't look like the same bird. The bill really threw me off too, seems to have a very short gape if you zoom in on it (lips seem not to extend into face or under the eye). The head shape is almost like an apple, with a vertical like slope before the bill. Overall threw me off.

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This was October, and a cool day. There were not a lot of other birds around, only a few white wing crossbills. This Hawk was clearly hunting, and flew off over the ravine, after I watched it for about 5-10 minutes (almost walked right up on it).

Hawk options that came to my mind ... Immature Dark Broadwinged? Immature Dark Red-Tail? Immature Dark Swainson's? I've seen both the Harlans and Dark Broadwinged about 10 miles east of here (more in the foothills/prairie), including Harlans and other Red-Tails. Unusual to see a Swainsons in the mountains, but could be.

Edited by Abe
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That picture seems helpful.  Now I'm wondering about a heavily marked juvenile light-morph Broad-winged, though a dark subterminal tail band would be nice.  But since I've never seen a Broad-winged, I really don't know.

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I was googling Alberta Birds of Prey. What about a Sharp Shinned or Immature Northern Goshawk?

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Dark Harlan's. Wings are not long enough for Swainson's. Rough-legs and Broad-wings have an obvious dark tail band. Not an accipiter. Hefty appearance with wide tail. Harlan's are very dark with distinct white speckling, matching this bird perfectly. I like the white mask 🙂
 

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Harlan's are highly variable but here are some images from google that are similar to your bird. This one's tail matches:

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And this one's facial pattern matches. if this one were a bit younger, it would have white spots on its back and a striped tail. Immature Red-tails are basically splotchier versions of the adults.

HRLH__3.jpg

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COMPLETE LIST OF POSSIBILITIES FOR THE AREA

 

NOT FALCON – (has a yellow eye, falcons have dark eyes)

  • Prairie Falcon

  • Peregrine Falcon

  • Gyrfalcon

 

NOT SWAINSON’S

  • Swainson's Hawk – see above reasons

 

NOT ACCIPITER – see above (tail too short)

  • Sharp-shinned Hawk

  • Cooper's Hawk

  • Northern Goshawk

 

NOT LIKELY ONE OF THESE

  • Osprey

  • Bald Eagle

  • Golden Eagle

  • Merlin

  • Northern Harrier

  • American Kestrel

 ================================================

REMAINING POSSIBILITIES

  • Red-tailed Hawk – Harlans - Immature

  • Broad-winged Hawk – Dark - Immature

  • Rough-legged Hawk 

  • Ferruginous Hawk

 


 

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Rough Legged Hawk - were "in season" in the area beginning that month

Note the frosting around the wing edges on the secondaries.

https://ebird.org/media/catalog?taxonCode=rolhaw&q=Rough-legged%20Hawk%20-%20Buteo%20lagopus&age=i

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The dark tail tip ID point still stands - both dark morph Rlha and bwha have substantial dark tail tips.

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Conclusion: this is an Immature Harlan's Red Tail Hawk ... with an odd white "frame" around it's eye.

thanks for your clever collective help!

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