Adult "dark" Red-tails without tail bands?

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 

I have been asked the question "do dark (rufous and dark-morph) Western Red-tailed Hawks always have multiple tail bands? The answer is no, and in fact, many lack multiple tail bands. The idea that dark birds seen on migration in the mid-west or eastern North America are actually Eastern (borealis) birds, has been tossed around. And one of the factors this thought was based on is that many lack multiple black bands on the tail as seen on Western birds. However, check out the Utah breeding birds in the photos below and note that they all lack obvious tail banding. And of course, Western light-morph adults lack tail bands quite often as well, and can have pale throats similar to Eastern (borealis) birds!

Just a note to clarify things, and hope you find this stuff as interesting as I do!!!!

Happy to share, "click" on photo to enlarge,

Blogger Mia McPherson said...

Thanks for sharing this Jerry, I found it very interesting.

May 28, 2013 at 3:23 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Cool, more to come about Red-tails and raptors!!!!

May 28, 2013 at 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again debunking unproved ID myths. Very grateful for your up to date iformation.....

Pete Gustas

May 28, 2013 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Vic Berardi said...

Good stuff Jerry!

A very important post illustrating the diversity in one of our most common raptors.

Really enjoying (and learning from) your posts, keep 'em coming!!

May 28, 2013 at 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Pete and Vic,

Many more posts to come...I love discussing a single issue in a blog forum.

May 28, 2013 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger Ron Dudley said...

Another lesson I'll take to heart, Jerry. Thanks for the info and for the photos to back it up.

May 29, 2013 at 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Glad you liked the post Ron....

May 29, 2013 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Bryce said...

Awesome birds. Keep the RT's coming!

May 29, 2013 at 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Bryce...I will. There is so much to post about them!

May 30, 2013 at 6:01 AM  
Anonymous Derek Lyon said...

I've seen darker Eastern birds, but all seem to be lighter below the belly-band than above. When I see a bird like this in the east I only can wonder if this bird is Western or a northern Eastern bird. This post helps stop some of the head scratching I do when I see a bird like this in the east.

May 31, 2013 at 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...


Glad you like my blog posts...and I appreciate your insightful comments.

May 31, 2013 at 4:20 PM  

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