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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 02:26   #1
bhowdy
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Hawk ID - Florida - SE United States

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge - Florida east coast

When I first saw this hawk my ID was "Red-tailed Hawk" Then I noticed that the chest was almost completely dark colored. When it flew off the undersides of the wings were also dark, with a white outer area.

I was unable to get around to the front of the bird to get a photo of the chest area. I am just not sure as the coloring is so much different than the red tails that I see regularly here at home, in Tennessee.

A dark morph seems to be very much outside the range .... Any help appreciated.

Thank You
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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 02:37   #2
james holdsworth
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Definitely adult [or near] Red-tail, as you can see the red tail. Maybe intermediate morph, as dark morph should be much darker and more richly coloured.
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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 02:46   #3
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Looks like a typical red-tailed adult to me.
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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 04:02   #4
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Even with my color-deficient vision, I can see what appears to me to be a red tail in the photo so Red-tailed Hawk is my vote. And the rest of the features seem to fit as well.

I'm glad you had a chance to visit Merritt Island NWR. It's a great place for observing birds of all types.

Last edited by rjackb : Friday 9th October 2009 at 04:09.
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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 04:20   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhowdy View Post
A dark morph seems to be very much outside the range .... Any help appreciated.

Thank You
Could you expand on this thought? I was unaware that any morph had a range.
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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 04:30   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy Priest View Post
Could you expand on this thought? I was unaware that any morph had a range.
I know you weren't asking me and I don't know anything about hawk morphs but some morphs, such as the white morph of the Great Blue Heron definitely have a range, namely southern Florida.
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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 04:49   #7
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I know you weren't asking me and I don't know anything about hawk morphs but some morphs, such as the white morph of the Great Blue Heron definitely have a range, namely southern Florida.
You are right I wasn't asking you. I was talking about RT hawks but thanks for the info. But there is speculation that the white morph is actually a subspecies of the GBH. THey are also said to occur in Cuba, Jamaica, the Yucatan, and off Venezuela according to the oft mentioned Sibley.
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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 05:01   #8
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Roy may have been being a bit facetious. I think the language discrepancy lies in the lack of clarity most guides (at least mine) have between subspecies and morphs - in their efforts to keep things "simple."

For RTHs, some subspecies are polymorphic, however, the eastern US subspecies are monomorphic (B. j. borealis of the east and B. j. umbrinus of most of FL).
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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 05:29   #9
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Roy may have been being a bit facetious.
Who moi?
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Old Friday 9th October 2009, 23:49   #10
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Thanks for the help with this hawk. I was sure on the red-tail, just a bit puzzled by the dark chest. While I would not say that I am an expert on hawk / buteos, I do see several different species here at home (east Tennessee), so I have built some familiarity with the regulars.

rjackb - I make 3-4 trips to Florida's east coast each year (MINWR, Viera, etc.)

Roy - The bird books that I have each state the the Red-tailed Hawk Dark Morph is a rare visitor east of the Mississippi River, here in the states. More common in the western United States.

Once again ... Thanks all.
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Old Saturday 10th October 2009, 00:04   #11
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The bird books that I have each state the the Red-tailed Hawk Dark Morph is a rare visitor east of the Mississippi River, here in the states. More common in the western United States.
Again, morphs don't have ranges. Subspecies do. And the western subspecies is/are the one(s) with dark morphs. Saying "dark morph is a rare visitor" is a misnomer. The subspecies is a rare visitor. Just clarifying.
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Old Saturday 10th October 2009, 02:16   #12
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I am sorry Alex, but I am not sure I agree. At least, even within the same subspecies, there can be geographic variation in occurrence of a given color morph. Look at Buteo buteo (common buzzard, or european or whatever the prefix is ) in northern Europe which has a very pale morph that becomes more common as you go east and north in Scandinavia, and is quite rare in south-western Denmark. These still belong to the nominate subspeecies (buteo) just as the birds all the way to Britain and Spain.

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Old Saturday 10th October 2009, 02:19   #13
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Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
I am sorry Alex, but I am not sure I agree. At least, even within the same subspecies, there can be geographic variation in occurrence of a given color morph. Look at Buteo buteo (common buzzard, or european or whatever the prefix is ) in northern Europe which has a very pale morph that becomes more common as you go east and north in Scandinavia, and is quite rare in south-western Denmark. These still belong to the nominate subspeecies (buteo) just as the birds all the way to Britain and Spain.

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Isn't that an example of a cline, though? Or is that term reserved for size?
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Old Saturday 10th October 2009, 02:58   #14
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Dark morph Red-tail is rare throughout Ontario, and I would think the east in general.

In this case, I would say it is a geographic situation, with a cline the farther west one travels. The same doesn't apply to Rough-leg or several other morphs though.
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Old Saturday 10th October 2009, 08:13   #15
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If you have Wheeler's Eastern Edition see page 254 for a discussion of Color Morphs in Western calurus RTH, Harlan's harlani RTH and Eastern borealis RTH. The only color morph mentioned for the Eastern is the pale morph "called "Krider's........"

At page 255 Wheeler states that the Eastern can have belly's that are lightly marked, moderately marked or heavily marked. The last can appear as a "nearly solid black band."

Bob

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Old Saturday 10th October 2009, 15:51   #16
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Quote:
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Isn't that an example of a cline, though? Or is that term reserved for size?
No, cline is also used for morphology. But what I described still boils down to a geographic area where the morph occurs with a reasonable regularity, and an area where it does not, and isn't that the definition of range?

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Old Sunday 11th October 2009, 00:38   #17
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This is an interesting discussion and at the risk of boring all here, I would again like to reference Wheeler. Specifically the GENERAL GLOSSARY at page 10 in the Eastern Edition. There are definitions of both Cline and Color Morph there. (Almost back to back!) They are too lengthy to quote here, and too technical to summarize (for me at least!) but if you have access to the book it will clarify their individual meanings.
Cordially,
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