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Identify a Hawk

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Just now, 1snowyowl said:

Thanks.  What are some of the things to look for to tell what it is.  I looked in the bird book and they all look alike to me.  I can usually tell a red shouldered and red tail, but that's about it.

Sorry, I would've given you some ID points if I wasn't so bad at explaining!  What I usually look at is the compact shape and the muted reddish-brown barring on the breast and belly (on adults).  They also have a pretty unique face, but I can't explain why.  :classic_unsure:  Eastern Red-taileds are bulkier and have a band of vertical streaks across the belly with a white breast.  Red-shouldered Hawks have black and white checkered patterns on the wings, lighter heads, and orange barring on the breast and belly.

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With buteos, always look at the tail pattern if you can -- I think they use them as a distant species-recognition signal. It's harder in juveniles, but in adults they're diagnostic. (It's a bit harder with a couple of the western species, Gray and Swainson's, but Gray is quite local and the two look quite different otherwise.)

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  • 1 year later...

Best thing to do, if you're really serious about it, is to invest in a good bird book. Peterson's books are excellent,  for not a lot of money.  Stay away from books that want to know where you found/heard/saw the bird and won't give you any clues otherwise.   And some birds are regional, some are migratory-specific, which can help to narrow it down, too.

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