Fink Family Farm Bird List

Fink Family Farm Bird List

The only list I faithfully keep is a list of all the birds seen on our farm since we moved here in 1977. I thought it would be fun to ad...

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Is This Hawk?

This hawk was sitting upright on power lines next to a field at the corner of Grand Ronde and Hebo roads. The field had recently been baled and had several large haystacks, each with a Red-tailed Hawk atop that periodically swooped down to nab something in the field. There was no place to pull over when I saw this bird on the wire so Johnny put on his flashers and sat in the middle of the road while I took a photo out the windshield. Just as I took the picture, the hawk leaned forward and lifted its wings, as in this photo, and took off. It flew out in a half circle and landed back on the wire in front of us but there were cars coming both directions so we left. The photo was taken at 6:15 p.m. with the sun low in the sky shining on the back of the hawk. I *think* that's the reason for the apparent white speckles on the feathers of the wing. I thought I knew what this was at the time so we went on home after a long day of birding for the Yamhill County NAMC to see if any birds had shown up at our farm that were not around in the morning before we left. Now that I see this photo, I'm not so sure my id was correct.

I would *really* appreciate any comments as to what this hawk is and why. Thanks in advance!


  1. Everyone said the same thing, but many with explanations. Thanks to all! Here are some of the comments:

    Buteo shape and brightly banded tail RSHA

    This has to be an im. Red-shouldered Hawk, with the coarse ventral markings, wing markings and banded tail.

    It is a young Red-shouldered Hawk. That is based on the heavily marked, blotchy under-parts, and the well-banded tail.

    You describe it as sitting in a very upright position. This is classic Red-shouldered. More than other Buteos they are inclined to perch on utility wires (Red-taileds do this only occasionally) and when they do they sit in an almost perfectly vertical position often looking straight down.

    Primarily because of the barred underparts, tail marked by several wide dark bars with intervening narrow white bars ending with an apparent white tip, and lesser upperwing coverts that look rusty to me.

    "Our" Red-shouldered Hawks in Oregon are nearly all of the California subspecies, which has recently expanded its range north. Adult plumage is distinguishably different from that of eastern ssps., but still readily recognizable as a Red-shoulder. Immature plumages are quite a bit different, enough that someone using a guide with eastern focus, or online photos without specifying ssp., could easily get confused.