Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Posing Female Juvenile Northern Harrier (Not Red-Tail)

On my lunch today I ran out to get my Boulder County Mountain Parks and Open Space parking permit. $15 will be worth 5 trips to Flagstaff Mountain and Gregory Canyon in the course of the year, and should have itself paid for soon.

The administration building is located close to Baseline Reservoir and the East Boulder Park Ponds. There is a trail that runs along South Boulder Creek next to the parking area, and I decided to check it out quickly with the time that remained for my lunch. I crossed a footbridge over the creek and was disappointed that nothing had been drawn to the moving water that had broken through the ice in a few places.

I checked my time and looped around the far side of the creek when I caught alarge bird flying low over a nearby field. She settled in on a post a few hundred feet from me, and I was able to move up slowly and get some fairly good shots of her.

She is, upon further review a juvenile Northern Harrier female, the white facial disk line is the giveaway trait. (Before editing I had this incorrectly ID'd as a juvenile red-tail and wondered about the facial disk.)
Popping up to land on the post.
Showing her dark banded tail, the "red-tail" is not visible until adulthood. After checking Hawks From Every Angle, I saw my mistake, the juvenile red-tail banding is fine, where these bands are broad. Again the facial disk was the key, but this is another telltale trait.
Light brown streaking beneath. Update, I should have noted that the streaking on a juvenile red-tail is faint, and would be limited to the bellyband area.

Just after landing. This pose shows his fluffed belly feathers, and those powerful looking talons.

If anyone does have additional details on the facial disk shown here please feel free to drop me a comment. (Duh, I saw it, but since I was so much closer than my previous Harrier sightings I hadn't appreciated their size. Lesson learned.)

2009 count: 46

Lifetime: 84

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