Shape Shifters

11 March 2016
Check out this composite image of a Cooper’s Hawk (https://hawkwatch.org/learn/factsheets/item/91-coopers-hawk) passing at eye-level on migration. Note that the head appears small, the wings appear stocky, and the tail appears short in the image on the left...now look how the head gets larger and projects more outward, the body become more lenghty,…

Kestrel "string of pearls" Tip

04 March 2016
Lots of birders know that one of the field marks of the American Kestrel (http://www.hawkwatch.org/learn/factsheets/item/637-american-kestrel) is the pale dots along the trailing edge of the wings (often called the "string of pearls"), but also knowing how and when that field mark is reliable to use is helpful. First off, the…

1st-year Harrier Eye Color

22 February 2016
In regards to Harrier eye color and plumages, here are some pics to show the difference in eye color between 1st-year (juvenile) males and females. First of all, it has been proposed or talked about for years that 1st-year males and females have a slight difference in plumage, but for…

Hybrid Ferruginous Hawk x Red-tailed Hawk

19 February 2016
A recent discussion prompted a birder to ask me to re-post this awesome adult Ferruginous x Red-tailed Hawk hybrid from south-central Utah photographed and shared by Steve Christensen. Hybridization between two separate raptor species is rare, but does occur. Typically, hybrids are the result of two similar species (from the…

Rough-legged Hawk Tail Variant

18 February 2016
Most birders are familiar with the fact that adult male Rough-legged Hawks have a banded tail (white with multiple black bands on light-morph birds and black with white bands on dark-morph birds), but did you know that adult female dark-morph Rough-legged Hawks can have a tail very similar to a…

Goshawk Tip

08 February 2016
One trait that is unpublished (or maybe I have, can't remember) that I wanted to share is the faint "commas" along the base of the outer primaries that many juvenile and some adult Goshawks show. They are not nearly as visible as the "commas" on Red-shouldered Hawks, and typically only…

A Tip on Judging Molt

01 February 2016
I received a request today on HawkWatch's "ask Jerry" link: https://hawkwatch.org/learn/jerry about Bald Eagles and an issue with determining molt on flying birds or birds in photographs. Looking at molt patterns on birds in flight can be very difficult to impossible to assess correctly (even photos can be misleading). Let…

An Interesting Golden Eagle

21 January 2016
I get so many photos in my inbox and just don't have the time to share them all, but I wanted to share this Golden Eagle that Larry Hancock sent me. Check out this bird, it is a juvenile - but it has barely any white in the tail and…

1st-year Red-tailed Hawks Molting in Fall

17 January 2016
1st-year Red-tailed Hawks Molting in Fall by Frank Nicoletti & Jerry Liguori We know that most raptors wear their 1st-year (juvenile) plumage for about a year, and begin to replace their feathers during their first spring (usually starting in March or April), but are you aware of the phenomenon where…

Behavioral Pressures in Winter

12 January 2016
Some raptors eat on the wing from time to time or quite frequently; Peregrines will eat while on migration as they cross large bodies of water. Kestrels and Merlins eat butterflies and dragonflies while in flight, and kites will eat insects on the wing daily. But, you don't see buteos…