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April 2007


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Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]>
Julie Waters <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 1 Apr 2007 09:51:30 -0400
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Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]>
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I wrote this up on the web site because there's a lot of detail to 
it, and it's interactive with picture links, but here's the deal-- 
there's no doubt at this point that the hawk that's been visiting us 
is a red-shouldered hawk, but there's question as to whether it's 
-only- red-shouldered.  Someone from this list (thank you, whoever 
you are) posted it to a very geeky bird list and it's drawn some 
interesting responses, including this one from Sibley:

What an interesting bird! While I had a momentary
first impression of "western Red-tail" that was
quickly dispelled as I looked at more details and
I think this can only be a hybrid Red-tailed x Red-
shouldered Hawk!

The pattern of orange breast with sparsely streaked
and barred belly seems like a mixture of the two species
and not normal for either, the posture and body shape
in some photos looks like Red-tailed, in others like
Red-shouldered, and several photos show clear reddish
accents in the smaller wing coverts which is wrong for
Red-tailed. I'm sure a careful analysis
would reveal lots more "mixed" characteristics.

http://juliesmagiclightshow.com/?&tc=58&specific=449 -
shows a pretty typical Red-shouldered wing shape,
a hint of the pale wingtip  rescents, and the broad
dark band at the tail tip (very abnormal for a Red-tailed)

Pictures of the underwing like
show how weak and incomplete the dark markings are
on the patagial area.  This is within the range of
Red-tailed but not typical, I think, for a bird
this dark and rusty in other areas.

The clincher, for me, is the call
which sounds most like a Red-shouldered and would be
extremely unusual (if not impossible) for a Red-tailed

If my memory is correct there was a hybrid of these two
species in Great Swamp, New Jersey a few years ago,
maybe somebody can fill in details about that. In any case
this is an extremely rare and unusual bird, and it's
fantastic to have such extensive documentation.
Obviously, I'm new to this and still learning-- I had asked about the 
possibility of a hybrid some time ago, but I'd never heard of such a 
thing-- it was more of an instinctual "it looks like its got features 
of both birds so could it be a hybrid?" idea.  I think it also 
stemmed from me misinterpreting a comment that someone else had made 
about it-- thinking they meant a hybrid RS/RT when they were 
referencing a hybrid between two morphs of the red-tail.

Mostly, I just wanted to reinforce the idea that you -never- know 
what will show up in your backyard :)

For those of you who are still reading this post, I wrote up some 
comments about the pictures I've got of it (including detail on which 
ones I know are the exact same bird and the ones which I -think- are 
the same bird but are not as confident about).



P.S. as I was writing this, the bird showed up in our yard again.  A 
short while later, it swooped down, grabbed something (possibly a 
mouse or a vole) and brought it back into a tree and started pulling 
it apart, devouring it bit by bit.  We'd never seen it do this before 
and it was both disgusting and fascinating.  It not only ate every 
piece of the creature, but cleaned off every piece from the tree as 
[log in to unmask]                    http://juliewaters.com/

	We've heard that a million monkeys at a million
	keyboards could produce the Complete Works of
	Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know
	this is not true.

			--Robert Wilensky