Red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis


Identification Tips:

Light morph adult:

Light morph immature:

Dark morph adult:

Dark morph immature:

Harlan's Hawk adult:

Harlan's Hawk immature:

Krider's Hawk adult:

Krider's Hawk immature:

Fuerte's Hawk

Similar species:

Red tail, patagial mark and belly band diagnostic when present. Due to its extreme variability though, the Red-tailed Hawk can be very difficult to identify. Most other light morph buteos are separable by shape and plumage, with Ferruginous Hawk being the most similar. The adult Ferruginous can be identified by its lack of a belly band, rufous leggings, paler flight feathers, lack of a patagial mark, and extensive reddish coloration on the upperwing coverts. The immature Ferruginous is similar to the immature Red-tailed but lacks the dark patagial mark. Dark morph Swainson's has dark flight feathers and white undertail coverts. Rough-legged has unmarked flight feathers and a white comma in the outermost underwing coverts. Other dark morph buteos (Broad-winged, Short-tailed) are smaller with different flight profiles. Immature White-tailed Hawk has a white diamond on its central breast.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.


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