Red-tailed Hawk Patagial Marks

05 November 2016

Do all Red-tailed Hawks show dark patagials? Well, yes, but…

Dark patagials (or "patagial bars") is a well-known ID trait for light-morph Red-tailed Hawks, but some show very faint patagials, appearing as if they lack dark "bars" altogether. This is more common with juvenile Red-tails than adults, and with Eastern Red-tails rather than Western. Interestingly, heavily marked Harlan's can have faint patagials compared to heavily marked light-morphs of other races, but light-morphs of any age or race of Red-tail can show faint patagials.

On the other hand, there are very pale Red-tailed Hawks with bold patagial marks, so be careful to ID or dismiss an ID based on this one trait. Below are a few Red-tails of various subspecies with faint patagials and a few lightly marked birds with bold patagials. By the way, I have seen other people's photos that are even better examples than these. Enjoy!