Juvenile Goshawk “Uneven” Tail Bands

A conversation I had a while back made me think to discuss a certain topic in a blog post. You often hear that juvenile Northern Goshawks have “uneven” tail bands compared to the similar Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks that show even tail bands. And, for the most part, this is true, along with a few other differences in the tail such as the very thin, pale bands between the wide blackish and brownish bands that most Goshawks show and almost none of the other accipiters show (and this can only be seen on extremely close birds or in photos). But besides that, I wanted to stress that the “uneven” tail band trait is only useful when viewing the topside of the tail and only when it is spread. It is irrelevant when viewing juvenile accipiters from underneath, especially when the tails folded or partially folded. Any accipiter from underneath can appear to have uneven or even tail bands.

Here are some composite topside and underside views of Goshawks to check out, and a juvenile Cooper’s for comparison.

So remember, some traits only apply to certain ages, sexes, views, etc.

This post was written by Jerry Liguori. You can read more about Jerry and his legacy at HawkWatch International here.

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