[CT Birds] Unidentified Buteo

John Weeks aerie.john at cox.net
Sat Aug 23 13:30:58 EDT 2014


Red-tails of all ages show a variable amount of white at the base of their tails, which often leads novice hawkwatchers to identify distant birds as Harriers (I did this a few times myself before I caught on).  Immature Red-tails have banded brown tails, not red ones, and display rectangular translucent "panes" in their primaries.  Perched Red-tails also exhibit whitish spots on their backs and upper wings; however, if your bird's white patches were bright white, I'd incline to say the bird was partially leucistic. (Leucism is fairly common in Red-tails.)  The photo is hard to decipher, but I think I detect a brown belly band on the bird's otherwise light underparts -- another characteristic mark of Red-tails.

So I think you've correctly identified it as a juvenile Red-tail.

John Weeks

-- James Winkelmann wrote:

Overall however definitely buteo-like, chunkier than Harrier, and had
distinct white patches on what I'd figure were primary coverts (top of the
"wrist"), and basically dark and white underneath, dark on top.  I'm
inclined to think light juvenile Red-Tail, but it just doesn't sit right as
there was no red at all anywhere on this bird - it was all dark and white.
There was indistinct banding on the tail when viewed from behind.

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