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Raptor in La Paz, Baja California, Mexico

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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 18:10   #1
trogon52
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Raptor in La Paz, Baja California, Mexico

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I didn't see this bird but the owner of the vacation rental we stayed at sent this photo of the bird. He said about 5 minutes after we left, his dog started barking and when he went to see what was happening, he saw that his dog was barking at this bird which was perched on a lamp post on the street outside his property. He took the photo and sent it to me. It was about 10 a.m., November 24. The street is in a quiet residential area about 5 blocks from the La Paz malecon. I didn't see it, and the bird's undertail, breast, belly, and legs are not visible from the photo. Its wings and back are grey, there's white on the front, and yellow at the base of its bill. The owner said it's not an osprey as he is a sailor and has seen plenty of ospreys, but it was about the same size, maybe a bit larger. Any ideas?
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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 18:19   #2
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Is this a melanistic Redtail?? I initially thought Swainson's...
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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 18:25   #3
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Is it too far north for a dark Short-tailed?
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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 19:22   #4
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My instinct was gray hawk, but neither that nor short-tailed are expected in Baja.
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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 19:34   #5
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Dark-morph Swainson's?
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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 19:42   #6
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I seem to remember a dark phase Rough-legged Hawk that I saw many years ago having white around the base of the bill. They are supposed to be rare but regular in the northern end of Baja according to my Sibley. Shouldn't Swainson's be further south at that time?

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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 19:42   #7
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My first thought was also Grey Hawk but the tail is not quite right and Baja is out of its range.
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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 19:49   #8
Andrew Whitehouse
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The long-winged shape and white around the face both strongly suggest Swainson's Hawk to me. Apart from seeming greyer than normal it's not too far out on plumage from how a darker intermediate bird would look.
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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 19:52   #9
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Quote:
I seem to remember a dark phase Rough-legged Hawk that I saw many years ago having white around the base of the bill. They are supposed to be rare but regular in the northern end of Baja according to my Sibley. Shouldn't Swainson's be further south at that time?
La Paz is in the central part of the peninsula (northern end of Baja California Sur). Ebird shows scattered November/December sightings in that vicinity, and Sibley's shows a wintering Swainson's population in south-central Baja.
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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 20:28   #10
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Swainson's Hawk seems a good possibility. Is it not unusual for it to be on a street lamp post in downtown La Paz?
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Old Sunday 26th November 2017, 22:58   #11
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Swainy winters in La Paz, but Rough-legged would be way out of even its uncommon vagrant range according to Sibley and eBird.
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Old Monday 27th November 2017, 00:49   #12
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Agree with Swainson's Hawk.

Wheeler's range map in his RAPTORS of Western North America, at page 203, shows that Swainson's Hawks winter along the coastline of Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico across the bay from La Paz, Mexico.

Also see the paragraph on Status and Distribution in Winter on page 278. ".... Swainson's Hawks, including Adults from the same breeding regions, may winter at various locations along the migratory route to Argentina. This includes cen. and s. California, along coastal Sonora, southward along the Pacific slope of Mexico, Central America and Colombia. ..... "
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Old Monday 27th November 2017, 18:32   #13
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Swainson's it is! Thanks, everyone, for the input!
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