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Eastern (B. l. lineatus) Red-shouldered Hawk

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  • davedesante
    I found and digiscoped a SY (first winter) Red-shouldered Hawk of the large eastern nominate race B. l. lineatus at the entrance to the Sacramento National
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 5, 2009
      I found and digiscoped a SY (first winter) Red-shouldered Hawk of the
      large eastern nominate race B. l. lineatus at the entrance to the
      Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Glenn County, California,
      January 31, 2009. There is, of course, the September 1996 specimen
      of a road-killed adult lineatus from Sacramento County that was found
      in the U.C. Davis collection and identified by Pyle and Engilis (West
      Birds 35:100-104). To my knowledge, however, this represents the
      first live individual and the first Juv-HY/SY individual to be
      recorded in California.

      Although the two images I obtained are not great, both because the
      bird was quite shy (unlike the other 10+ B. l. elegans we observed in
      the area that day) and because it was partially screened by tree
      branches, the image of the ventral surface of the bird clearly shows
      the dark throat and lower auriculars that are much darker than the
      breast and are diagnostic for B. l. lineatus (see Pyle,
      Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part II, p. 428).
      Moreover, the medium brown back and medium brown tail crossed by
      several lighter brown bands, that are characteristic of young
      lineatus (as opposed to a dark brown back and brownish black tail
      crossed by fewer whitish bands that are characteristic of young
      elegans; again see Pyle, Part II, p. 428), are visible in the image
      showing the dorsal surface of the bird. In addition to having a
      heavily streaked upper breast, the bird showed fine streaks down the
      center of the entire abdomen; the flank feathers had a partially
      barred (in addition to streaked) appearance but were not heavily
      barred with reddish brown as in young elegans. In addition, the
      dorsal surface of the secondaries and inner primaries were relatively
      plain medium brown and did not show the brownish-black and whitish
      barred pattern that is characteristic of young elegans (which looks
      like a subdued version of the adult elegans pattern). The outer
      primaries, however, did show buffy whitish bases in flight which did
      produce the characteristic Red-shouldered Hawk "flash" near the wing
      tip on both the lower surface and, to a lesser degree, on the upper
      surface of the wings. Finally, the bird appeared distinctly larger
      than any of the elegans we saw that day.

      The details of the sighting are as follows. Rick Misuraca and I were
      exiting the Sacramento NWR about 12:30 pm on January 31, 2009, and
      were just approaching the railroad tracks which parallel and are just
      east of the north-south road just outside the refuge, when this bird
      flew north over the car and alighted on the first telephone pole
      north of the car. I thought Red-shoulder when I glimpsed it in
      flight (presumably because I likely glimpsed the buffy-whitish flash
      near the wing tip) but, upon looking at the dorsal surface of the
      perched bird, I exclaimed that it didn't look at all like a young
      [elegans] Red-shoulder, but instead looked rather like a large bulky
      accipiter. I got out of the driver's side of the car to get a better
      look and the bird immediately took flight and flew to the NNE into
      the trees on the edge of the refuge. In flight, the buffy whitish
      flash near the wing tips left no doubt that it was indeed a Red-
      shouldered Hawk, and its relatively unpatterned dorsal surface,
      medium brown tail crossed by several light brown bands, and large
      size made me immediately suspect that it was a young B. l. lineatus.
      We got in the car and drove north up the road slightly past the bird
      (so that we could look back and see the ventral surface) and obtained
      one digiscoped image of it with my little Nikon Coolpix 5600 and
      Swarovski scope. We tried to approach closer, but the bird was quite
      shy and flew NE deeper into the woods. I was able to get one more
      digiscoped image of its dorsal surface before it flew further NE and
      out of sight.

      We then made a point to closely examine several young B. l. elegans
      on telephone poles and in trees in the surrounding area that
      afternoon, further confirming that the bird we digiscoped was indeed
      a young B. l. lineatus.

      I will try to post the two images, but I'm not certain I know how to
      do it. If I don't succeed, perhaps someone can email me with
      instructions. Thanks.

      Dave DeSante
      Point Reyes Station, CA
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