Saturday, July 24, 2010


I saw some great birds during my workday on Thursday! It may be hot and humid outside, which makes my days pretty rough, but at least I get to "work-bird" as I walk around neighborhoods set in the heavily wooded country of Central PA.

Here was the highlight:

I heard this Red-tailed Hawk crying in some pines behind the neighborhood I was walking, so I pulled over and went looking for him. Turned out, there were two -- calling to one another, and perhaps screaming at me for invading their turf. More than once, this guy looked down at me and screamed, so I took some quick picks, giggled with glee, and got out of there.

Also present were Black-capped Chickadees, Gray Catbirds, American Goldfinches, Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, and Tufted Titmice. It was a nice little break from work.

Notice the light reddish-brown coloring of this RTHA (I don't think my photos captured just how light this bird's coloring was). At first I wondered if it was a juvenile Northern Harrier; it was that lightly rufous-colored. However, the bird's call and markings were distinctly those of a RTHA--the belly band, the "backpack" (which I noted when the second hawk flew away), the screaming associated with Bald Eagles in movies and on TV! A juvie NOHA would've had a solid rufous breast and the white rump-patch. Still, I haven't seen a RTHA this color around here; I always see the normal dark-brown color. In my field guide, the rufous morph is more of a Western race, yet here is this guy.

Is my ID of RTHA wrong?

P.S.--I know I had some photos and a post of a normal-colored RTHA on my blog once; I just can't find them! This is the only one I found for comparison:


Felicia said...

Hi! Your bird looks like a RT to me, just as you suspect. Some of them can be really pale. I love looking for birds on my way to and from work, too--it just makes the day better!

(Also, the word verification I just got is "alloduck"--how weirdly appropriate is that?)

dguzman said...

Felicia--perfect! Bring on alloducks!

John said...

No, your ID of the red-tailed hawk isn't wrong. That species has a lot of variation, even within the eastern populations.

dguzman said...

John, I'm glad I'm right -- I knew there was variation, but this guy was pale!

Rabbits' Guy said...

Whatever it is, it's a great picture. We have lots of the Red Tails here, so many that I just know them when I see or hear them, but I don't know for sure what one actually looks like - to id it!!!

Elizabeth said...

I've seen a lot of variation even within the Bay area. This first one has a darker chest:
and this second one has a very light chest

dguzman said...

Rabbits' Guy--thanks! The good thing about Red-tails out here is that there are soooooo many of them. You can almost bet if you see a hawk soaring, it's probably a Red-tail. Plus that dark belly-band is a good giveaway, as is the darker "backpack" marking on the middle of the back. And of course the red tail!

Elizabeth--WOW. Those are great pics! You must have a great zoom/lens on your camera! It's like you're right under the bird!

Anonymous said...

Work birding is pretty awesome...even the usual suspects seem extra special when you're seeing them on work time! Oh, and I wouldn't *totally* rule out a buzz cut in the future...round heads look good with short hair. It's the lumpy heads that sometimes stand out. :)

dguzman said...

Birds Fly-Thanks for visiting the bloggy! And I'll keep that in mind... not sure how my girlfriend would react, though.