Monday, February 22, 2010

Dark Bird - Darkly

While searching for gulls on Saturday I made a stop at Erie Reservoir. Gulls were out, but they seemed to be limited to Ring-billed, Herring and a couple of possible Thayer's. However this dark hawk arrived shortly after I had, momentarily making the deteriorating conditions a non-issue.

I wanted this to be the dark morph Rough-legged Hawk that had been reported in the area, but I can't say I was too disappointed to have so many looks at this Harlan's Hawk. I hadn't realized that they were so close, but note the light under-wing. On a dark Rough-legged the white should be more pure, especially at the wingtips. Here it shows a clear barred pattern. Another point to consider is the top of the tail. It shows very white, with the dark band at the tip. On a Rough-legged the tail would be more grey. Still, I was wavering until I took a close look at the picture below.

A Harlan's, or any Red-tail shows its large feet and long bare legs. Had this been a Rough-legged Hawk the feathers would have descended to its feet.

So, still no Rough-legged, but a real highlight nonetheless.