Monday, November 2, 2009

Bird ID?

While patiently waiting for the duck season to open in my part of Oklahoma I have done a little trapping to help pass the time.  This past weekend I came across a very dark colored bird on a power pole just east of where I was working in Woodward that I assumed was a dark morph Red-tailed Hawk.   After bumping the bird I saw that it did not have a red tail and it just so happened that I had a trap in my truck.  After some scrambling to get it everything together, I managed to trap this bird.  Definitely a dark, dark bird but I was puzzled by this bird's markings.  It didnt really fit what I would call a dark morph Red-tail, or a Harlan's, or a dark morph Swainson's Hawk, but I had narrowed it down to these three birds.

 The bird was Red-tail shaped and was an adult, but it lacked the any amount of red on it's tail tail, thus eliminating the dark morph Red-tailed Hawk from my options.  It also lacked the rufous coloring under its wings, lacked the light undertail coverts, the tail was too long, and it was very late in the year for it to be a dark morph Swainsons, but I hadn't ruled this species out at this point.  In fact I was still leaning toward it.  I didn't think that it was a Harlan's either, because of the multiple bars on it's tail and the lack of any white speckling on the bird's breast.  So in the end I took some pictures of the bird and released it back out on it's merry way.

Upon further review with some very experienced biologists at the Sutton Center, we found the answer in the book "A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors," by Brian Wheeler and William Clark.  On page 87, bottom right corner, there is a photo matching the bird that I trapped.  An adult Harlan's Hawk, that just so happens to lack the white breast coloring and also has a matching wide sub-terminal band.  The weekend mystery has been solved.  An awesome looking bird and a great experience, too bad it wasn't a passage hawk....

1 comment:

steveo_uk said...

we saw one execatly like that at hackberry flats couldnt get it to come to the trap though as we wanted to photography it