Swainson's Hawk Tail Pattern

03 September 2016
It is known that adult and sub-adult Swainson's Hawks show a broad sub-terminal tail band compared to 1st-year birds who show a narrow band at the tip of the tail; this is often a good way to tell 1st-year birds apart in trickier photos or field situations. However, some 1st-year birds…

"Fresh Plumage" Pitfall

02 September 2016
Check out this photo of a 1st-year Cooper's Hawk our Utah friend Shyloh Robinson sent us. By the way Shyloh, your photos are fantastic! Anyway, notice how grayish the topside appears. 1st-year birds in fresh plumage often have a sheen on top and do not appear as brown as they…

Meet the Chelan Ridge Crew

31 August 2016
Text and photos by Tucker Davidson The 20th season of the Chelan Ridge HawkWatch is off to a great start!  The crew this year consists of 3 Chelan Ridge veterans and 2 rookies. Jessica Taylor is excited for a prosperous year on the ridge and believes that this year, in…

Raptor Fact Sheets!

29 August 2016
Have you ever wondered where to search on the internet for a great resource to aid you in identifying raptors, or a starting point regarding information on raptors? HawkWatch has a 'Fact Sheet' link on our website that you might just want to bookmark https://hawkwatch.org/learn/factsheets. We have completed most of…

Ageing Male Kestrels

25 August 2016
Now that migration has begun, let's touch on a subject that has been known for a long time but not often discussed. 1st-year male American Kestrels molt their body feathers in their first fall (often on migration). This is unlike most other raptors, making them tricky to age in flight. To…

Swallow-tailed Kites!

16 August 2016
I've said many times that my favorite raptor is the Swallow-tailed Kite, and as difficult as it is to choose a favorite, if you've ever seen a Swallow-tailed Kite float effortlessly in the air, then you can't blame me for choosing. First of all, their elegant shape alone with their…

Red-tailed Hawk Eye Color Note

08 August 2016
I've seen a few mentions of eye color being used to age Red-tailed Hawks on the internet recently, so I thought I'd write a short blip relating to the subject (FYI - here is another related post http://www.hawkwatch.org/blog/item/988-eye-color-usually-matches-molt). Yes, it is true that 1st-year Red-tailed Hawks (and most buteos) have pale…

ID Adjectives

02 August 2016
I was thinking about the adjectives we use to describe certain (sometimes esoteric) aspects of bird identification. For instance, we can say an American Kestrel has "quick" wing beats compared to most raptors and that is pretty easy to see or undertand. But, if we say the wing beats are…

Golden Eagle Tails

28 July 2016
Here at HawkWatch, we are working on several Golden Eagle projects (i.e. https://hawkwatch.org/our-work/west-desert-raptors) and I thought I'd share a tidbit on one aspect of a particular project, which is ageing Golden Eagles to a specific year. Ageing Golden Eagles can be tricky because the amount of white in the wings varies…

Are You a "Watcher" or a "Toucher"

26 July 2016
The title of this post sounds like I am pitting bird banders against watchers, but I’m not of course. By the way, I happen to be both, and I am so glad that I had the interest and the opportunity early on to study birds in the field and up…