An Unusual Looking Red-Tailed Hawk

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I photographed a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk a few days ago.  There are a lot of Red Tails out and about these days.  Aside from our substantial population of local birds we have an influx of “snowbirds” — winter residents.  Red Tails from all over the western United States spend their autumns and winters in southern Arizona.

Which brings me back to this bird.  It doesn’t look like any Red Tail that I’ve seen.

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I can tell immediately that this is a juvenile bird by its pale eye.  Its plumage is atypical for a local juvenile hawk.  Most local juveniles would have darker outer wings and a darker head than this bird.  But, what makes this young hawk unusual is the bold white patterns on its head and wings.  Also, the pure white breast is atypical of most of our local juveniles.  Most of the local birds have more dark spots on their breasts.

So, this bird is out of character for a local juvenile.  Has it migrated here from somewhere else?  Possibly.  And, what will it look like as an adult?  I haven’t a clue.  The reddish tone of its wings and back suggest that this bird will have a lot of reddish or “rufous” plumage on its head, back and wings  as an adult.  But, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the rest of the hawk will look like.

Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400 f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x Extender, aperture priority setting, ISO 640, f8 @ 1/640.

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