Saturday, January 21, 2012

Red-shouldered Hawk Indeed: Gawk at this Hawk

Three days ago we had a post about one of the two Red-shouldered Hawks we caught this past week.  The second hawk, to us banding amateurs with little hand-hawk experience, looked odd especially compared to the first bird we caught (read first RSHA post).  It had features that reminded us easterners of Broad-winged Hawk.  Look at the photos here and see what we mean.  Turns out, after running it by the hawk banders at Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, the bird is definitely within the normal range of variation seen in the California Race of Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans.  Here are some photos taken by Dan Lipp of the overzealous Frenchie holding this beautiful SY RSHA.  

This photo shows the pale grayish brown eye that is typical of a young Red-shouldered Hawk.
An adult California Red-shouldered Hawk would show a nearly solid orange breast with an orange belly with white barring. The brownish barring on this SY RSHA is very reminiscent of a Broad-winged Hawk, and it has a much smaller, streaky bib than our previous SY RSHA. However, this RSHA's plumage is within the normal variation one could expect to see within the California subspecies.
Here you can see the tail with fewer, thicker bands than our first Red-shouldered Hawk, but the California subspecies immature can show a more adult-like tail than the eastern subspecies. 

By Luke Musher and Cory Ritter


  1. Luke,
    I wondered if you might write a post about the equipment you use to get all your excellent photographs.

    1. Chuck,

      I think I can do that. FYI though, the photos on this particular post were taken by Dan Lipp, an intern here at PRBO. I use a Canon 7D with a 400mm, f5.6 fixed telephoto lens. I will write a post in the next week or two on this.