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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The (Un)Common Red-Tailed Hawk

Adult light morph (pale belly and tail; Lafayette, CO)

The Red-Tailed Hawk is our most common hawk here in North America, at least by numbers, but it's uncommonly beautiful in its variability. In this post, I just thought I'd share a few photos of the color variations in the Red Tails living around my home here in Colorado. This is by no means a definitive display of all of the color morphs I've seen, but simply the ones I have been able to photograph...

Adult light-morph (captive)

Adult light-morph (captive)

"Red-Tailed Hawk Study" Oil painting - Adult light morph (captive)

This gorgeous bird is a captive because of an injury that prevents it from living on its own in the wild. He is now an ambassador for his species and is cared for by the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

Harlan's color variant (note pale tail and grayish streaking on the belly 
and underwing; Boulder, CO). Yes, this is a Red-Tailed Hawk even though its tail is a very light gray above and below. 

Another Harlan's variant (Weld County, CO)

Dark Harlan's (??) (near Firestone, CO)

Dark Morph (not Harlan's - note very red tail), adult (Erie, CO)

Juvenile light morph (Louisville, COO

Juvenile Light morph (note brown tail and pale eye) (Louisville, CO)

Adult light morph (Lafayette, CO)

Adult Light morph, bird from previous photo, in flight (Lafayette, CO)

Light Adult, Western morph (Louisville, CO)
Note the very buff-colored belly, dark "shoulders", and buff underwing coverts

I believe this is an Adult Light Harlan's (Weld County, CO)

And this poor adult light morph has some kind of skin condition - possibly mites - leading to a major loss of feathers on its head and belly. Note the poor condition of the skin around its eyes (near Erie, CO).

All photos and text are copyright Nancy Rynes, 2013

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