Help identify this Hawk

2013_02_21  Hawk

2013_02_21 Hawk (view one)

Unidentified Hawk ( view one)

Unidentified Hawk ( view two)

How many hours I spend pouring over guides, my conclusion about the unidentified Hawk being that I am reluctant to make an identification.  The bird’s height made the task even more challenging.  It was seen in the parking lot of a grocery store February 21, 2013 near St. Petersburg, FL.


17 responses to “Help identify this Hawk

  1. This is a though one, especially since hawks are not my specialty, but I will give it a try:
    * Given the grey coloration, small size (I assume) and range, how about a Mississippi Kite (perhaps a juvenile or morph)?.
    * Or maybe a rather pale Merlin (but there is no trace of “mustache”)?
    * Or a smallish Northern Harrier male (although the white rump should be visible)?
    * Or a Grey Hawk that got really lost on the Gulf of Mexico (and also lost its darker tale)?

  2. But now that I’ve seen the bird’s chest, none of my previous choices make sense. Very strange…. you should consult a raptor expert, in my opinion.

  3. I asked a friend of mine in Florida and he suggested it might be a Broad-winged Hawk.

    • It seems our comments were posted about the same time. I didn’t see yours when I wrote that “none of these birds” as I was referencing those Pierre mentioned.

  4. I suspect, this Hawk is probably a year round resident. None of these birds are. I have two or three ideas, but just don’t know.

  5. SLB, I haven’t looked at the guides yet, but I have spent a lot of time studying the different field marks between Red-shouldered and Broad-winged Hawks in hopes that I might have seen a Broad-winged that I didn’t recognize for what it was. No luck for me, but your hawk does look like a Broad-winged to me.

    As for whether it is considered a year-long resident, well, I have seen Black-and-white Warblers that have made summer homes here. The last year has taught me that range maps are great guides, but they aren’t necessarily the rule.

  6. Identifying same age Red-shouldered Hawks and Broad-winged Hawks can be very tricky. I would usually look at leg length as a good point of reference, RSH being a noticeably longer than BWH, but the legs are too hard to see in these photos. The tail pattern is of little to no use because both species could have this exact pattern. The wing to tail ratio is exactly the same on these species too. I would say this is a RSH because there does appear to be some visible rofous coloring on the shoulder due to the fact that RSH are MUCH more common than BWH this time of year in FL. Check eBird for this years distributions of these two species.

    If anybody is lacking on their raptor ID skills, I would recommend “A Photographic Guide To North American Raptors” by Brian Wheeler and William Clark. This is hands down the best book I’ve ever read on IDing raptors. Also very pretty pictures.

  7. I think the eye color is wrong for RSH & BWH, and it doesn’t show the barring on the secondaries that the RSH should have.

    Also the head GISS screams Kite to me. I’d say Mississippi, too, but that breast pattern??!!

  8. My mind jumped to Mississippi Kite at first too, but in Mississippi Kites of all ages the wingtips extend beyond the end of the tail. When I look at raptors I think it’s best to look at shape and body proportions before plumage. I just don’t see this bird being anything other than a RSH or a BWH.

    • Good point! I never see Kites, so I should be more careful and not jump to conclusions!

      Still having trouble ruling the others in, though…

      • I don’t think it is about jumping to conclusions, but seeing things a little differently after another person tosses in their input. Generally, that is offered with details about how ideas are arrived at. We want to get that bird ID’ed correctly!

  9. I will be going back to the books and looking at what has been seen in the area, and will “meet” you back here later.

  10. Guess this would be a real rarity, but–Roadside Hawk? In the first shot, I think I can sort of see that breast pattern with vertical streaks above, bars below…

  11. Trying to talk myself into RSH. Found a few pics on the internet with irises that color. Still would like to see definite barring on those secondaries, though…

  12. I checked E-bird as suggested, and went back to the books. I tend to agree that the Hawk is RSH. I see a bit of color on the shoulder, too. Wasn’t sure if it was a shadow, but dumb place for a shadow, aye?

  13. Just stumbled upon this in a book by Dunne:

    (After describing adult coloration) “Note: Similarly patterned Florida birds are considerably paler, washed-out versions of most eastern birds.”


  14. Uh, in his section on Red-shouldereds, I should have said.