[Tweeters] Fwd: RTHA in Tacoma

Charlie Wright c.wright7 at comcast.net
Sun Feb 28 01:07:47 PST 2010

Hello All,
Passing on this e-mail from Sir Bill Tweit.

Charlie Wright
Bonney Lake, Washington

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: sebnabgill at aol.com
To: "c wright7" <c.wright7 at comcast.net>
Sent: Saturday, February 27, 2010 8:52:56 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: RTHA in Tacoma

Charlie, can you post this on Tweeters?

The Tacoma buteo is some form of a Red-tailed Hawk, as Charlie Wright noted. The underwing pattern is clearly Red-tailed Hawk, completely lacking the dark wrist patch that Rough-legs invariably show. The tarsii are not fully feathered, they are only partially feathered. The body shape and posture are also Red-tail, lacking the dainty head that is characteristic of Rough-leg.

As a Red-tail, this is an extremely interesting bird. I think Charlie is correct that this is a light phase Harlan's, a rare bird in Washington, but as Charlie noted, it is at the very light edge of the range for Harlan's. He correctly noted that photos of the back should help eliminate a leucistic Red-tail, and the new photos seem to show the expected back pattern for Harlan's.

For some reason, Red-tails like this invariably trigger speculation about Krider's type. This makes little sense to me, as Krider's are short-distance migrants in the center of the continent, while Harlan's are longer distance migrants, breeding in Alaska and the Yukon territories. So, even though light-phase Harlan's are rare, they are much more probable in Washington than Krider's. Additionally, in this case, the back appears too dark for Krider's, and the white goggle effect on the face, while less obvious than on other light phase Harlan's I've seen is still evident.

This bird is worth further study, it is an unusual plumage.

Bill Tweit

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