Red-tailed Hawk Patagial Marks

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Sunday, September 8, 2013 

Do all Red-tailed Hawks show dark patagials? Well, yes, but…

Dark patagials (or "patagial bars") is a well-known ID trait for light-morph Red-tailed Hawks, but some show very faint patagials, appearing as if they lack dark "bars" altogether. This is more common with juvenile Red-tails than adults, with Eastern Red-tails than Western, and on heavily marked Harlan's  moreso than heavily marked light-morphs of other races, but light-morphs of any age or race of Red-tail can show faint patagials.

On the other hand, there are very pale Red-tailed Hawks with bold patagial marks, so be careful to ID or dismiss an ID based on this one trait. Below are a few Red-tails with faint patagials and a few lightly marked birds with bold patagials. By the way, I have seen other people's photos that are even better examples than these. Enjoy!

Blogger Mia McPherson said...

Thanks for this info Jerry! Always helps to know more about the raptors we love.

September 9, 2013 at 5:10 AM  
Anonymous Dave Morrison said...

Holy cow, those are great examples! What a neat feature to keep an eye out for. Thanks Jerry for this blog, I love it.

September 9, 2013 at 6:51 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Dave and Mia.

September 9, 2013 at 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two bottom birds look Kriderii, are they ?

Pete Gustas

September 9, 2013 at 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Derek Lyon said...

The more variation you point out the more I realize that I need to look closely at every picture I see.

Aren't most of these birds Kriders?

September 10, 2013 at 5:50 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Pete and Derek

The first 3 are Harlan's, the last 3 are Krider's. But the 5th one down is tough since fuertes and krider's start to overlap in plumage between South Dakota and Oklahoma and this is a wintering bird. But shows mostly krider's traits

September 10, 2013 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Wally Jones said...

Nice series showing how much variation can be encountered. Add to that, "tricks" of light, a drop of sweat in the eye and (in my case) limited experience and all of a sudden a positive i.d. isn't so positive!

You mean I have to look at ALL the bird's characteristics?? :)

I'm enjoying your posts! Thank you!

September 11, 2013 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Wally...I appreciate the comment

September 11, 2013 at 7:47 PM  

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