Patagials & Bellybands

A subject came up today regarding dark patagials on Red-tailed Hawks. Almost all Red-tailed Hawks (but not all, some are so faint it isn’t fair to say they have dark patagials) have dark patagials of some sort (see post here: But did you know that Ferruginous Hawks can show dark patagials? Check out the 2 Ferruginous Hawks (adult in Image #1, juvenile in Image #2), they both have dark patagials, but the dark feathers extend onto the underwing coverts as well. However, in flight, this may appear similar to the dark patagials of Red-tailed Hawks. Of course, there are other reasons why these birds are not Red-tailed Hawks, but it can be tricky or confusing if one focuses on the patagials first.

Another issue came up recently as well, dealing with juvenile Broad-winged Hawks showing Red-tailed Hawk-like bellybands. Some do show streaked bellies, and these types of juvenile Broad-wingeds can be confusing (Image #3 and #4). However, many things differ between juvenile Broad-winged and Red-tailed Hawks, so try to use more than one trait when identifying hawks.

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

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