[midvalleybirds] Harlan's-esque Red-tail

Lisa Millbank millbank.lisa at gmail.com
Sun Mar 22 16:03:56 PDT 2020

 We were working in the yard when an unusual dark-morph Red-tailed Hawk
soared by, with a normal Western light-morph also soaring over the
neighborhood.  The dark Red-tail looked nearly identical to a dark-morph
Rough-legged, except for shape and proportions, and the lack of a wide,
solid subterminal band.

Overall, it looks like a dark-morph Harlan's.  The head, body, and wing
linings are black, with some white streaking on the breast and white
mottling on the underwing coverts.  The only rufous coloration is near the
black-spotted tips of the tail feathers.  Otherwise the tail is light in
color with faint barring near the base of the tail.  There are some
mediocre photos here

After reading this interesting article
by famous raptor guys Ligouri and Wheeler, I learned that it's not as
straightforward as I thought to separate Harlan's and Westerns.  There are
a lot of photos in the article that show how much overlap there can be
between Harlan's and Western Red-tail plumages, especially in immatures and
intergrades, and there are many plumage variations not covered in most
field guides.  I'd still call it a Harlan's, but if anyone disagrees, I'd
like to know what you think.

More information about the birding mailing list