[CT Birds] Broad wing - Dark Morph??

semismart9 at aol.com semismart9 at aol.com
Thu Nov 17 14:37:43 EST 2011

On Thursday morning, November 17th, 2011 at Boothe Memorial Park in Stratford, CT; Scott Kruitbosch and I were doing the normal HawkWatch. The temperature was about 47 degrees F; and there was 90% - 100% cloud cover, leaving us in an even lighting condition, although the sun would pop in and out through small breaks. At approximately 11:25AM, I observed a dark-appearing Buteo approach the site. This bird appeared up over the tree-line just to the North of us, at about 10 feet over the trees. I observed it in my binoculars for about 5 - 10 seconds before Scott got on it. At the initial looks, it appeared right for a BROAD-WING HAWK. However, keeping in mind the date, it needed more looking. The bird approached us on a NE to SW line, proceeding directly above the SE corner of the red Blacksmith Shop, passed to the South of the Clock Tower and right over the Basket Building. All of this time, we were both now looking and calling out field marks to each other. 

The immediate call was ... Look at the striping in the tail, alternate black and white, perfect for Broad-wing. Wing shape looked good, the 'butter-knife' shape. The Bird flared up at a big ball of Starlings and spread it's tail out. We again got very good looks at the pattern. The upper body color was dark brownish. The underwing color was the biggest problem. As the hawk flew directly overhead, we were afforded great looks straight up at the bird. The color appeared ALL dark brownish, and we did not see contrasting white, as would be expected. I did not notice any real dark edging on the wing. According to Brian Wheeler in "Raptors"... page 209: Adult Dark Morph WINGS.. Dark brown underwing coverts. And on page 208... "two color morphs: light and dark. There are no intermediate morphs. The illustration in Sibley on page 118 at the right middle, for Dark Adult, looks very much as we saw for the upper surface as the bird flared up, but the under wing illustration has too much contrast. 

In Jerry Liguori's Hawks Fron any Angle, page 46, he talks about Adult Broad-winfed  Hawks...Dark Morph ... Juveniles are completely brown or heavily streaked throughout the body and underwing coverts, whereas adults are solid blackishon the body.The pattern on the tailand remiges of dark birds is identical to that of light birds...

Could we hae seen something else? We discussed Dark morph Swainson's but the overall shape and size of our bird was too small, the wings were too short, and the tail pattern did not fit.A dark morph Red-Tailed would still have shown more color in the tail than we had, plus the shape was again wrong.

Both Scott and I accept the sighting as a Dark-morph adult. It will be interesting to see where this proceeds.

Bill Banks

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