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Old Wednesday 31st December 2003, 23:54   #1
pattianne
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Hawks

Out for a ride today in southern Louisiana and spotted 4 hawks, two of which I believe to be red-tailed, but the other two have me puzzled. They both were in open field areas - white chest and dark, almost black back and wings. I did not see any streaking on the belly area of either of these hawks. Didn't see any red or brown on them either. Of course, a picture would be nice, but I don't have that to offer. By the way, they were seen about 20 miles apart. Any thoughts on ID?
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Old Wednesday 7th January 2004, 15:37   #2
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Could they have been Northern harriers? The adult males are white underneath and grey above. And they like to hunt in open fields. They have a white rump (a white bar across the base of their tale seen from above).
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Old Wednesday 7th January 2004, 15:58   #3
Andrew Whitehouse
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A lot of the North American Buteos (e.g. Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk) have dark forms, so maybe it could be one of those. Or perhaps an Osprey, although that's not so likely over open fields I suppose.
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Old Wednesday 7th January 2004, 18:21   #4
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Have you considered Kites? Both Swallow-tailed and White-tailed fit your general color scheme. Of course in flight the Swallow-tailed would be obvious from his tail. Check them out in your field guides.
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Old Thursday 8th January 2004, 02:09   #5
pattianne
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Thanks to all for your thoughts. I have a picture of a Mississippi Kite that I took and I've about ruled that species out - the body shape seems all wrong. I did notice that the Northern Harrier has a dark form, so maybe......
That would be a first time sighting for me so I would really like to get a picture just to make sure about the correct ID. Guess I had "hawk" on the brain when I saw them but I couldn't get a perfect match with my field guide. Thanks again for your comments. When I get a photo, I'll post it.
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Old Thursday 8th January 2004, 03:05   #6
Larry Lade
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Possible juvenile or dark phase Red-tailed Hawk

Hi pattianne,

Sometimes Red-tailed Hawks are pretty clear chested, i.e. no belly band. They are one of the most diversely plumaged raptors we have in North America. Sometimes they are almost completely black and conversely sometimes they can be just about all white. "Normally" they do have a brownish belly band on a white belly. The tails of the adults are "usually" reddish. Juveniles do not have a reddish tail, but rather have a dark brown, lighter brown banding on the tail.

The male Northern Harrier (Hen Harrier for our cousins across the pond) is gray above, white below. It has very distinctive black tips on the wings and a white rump. The tail is also "longish" on a harrier, shorter on a hawk. The Northern Harrier tends to fly (glide) low (a few feet) above a marshy or grassy area hunting for its prey. Red-tailed Hawk generally fly much higher and tend to circle high in the sky. Hawks may also sit on an elevated perch from which to view their surroundings.

Hope this helps.
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Old Thursday 8th January 2004, 20:35   #7
pattianne
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Well, Larry, that info certainly helps. The birds in doubt were both perched on telephone poles. No white rump, no gray coloring, either. Maybe, just maybe, I have red-tailed hawks, with no red tail and dark brown-black plumage. I remember saying "black and white, no shading" when I saw them. Thanks. Now if I can just get a photo. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Thanks.
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