Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis harlani), Kansas Settlement, Cochise County
This adult dark morph Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk was photographed by Tom Ryan on 28 February 2009 in the Kansas Settlement area south of Willcox.
The Harlan's subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk was formerly considered a separate species. Although thought to be a perhaps regular winter visitor in Arizona, it is difficult to identify and is rarely documented.
Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk can be confused easily with dark morph of Western
Red-tailed Hawk. The first thing to notice on this bird is the strong dark
trailing edge to the wing indicating it is an adult. The overall black and
white color is very good for Harlan's. Usually dark Western Red-tails are
a warmer, chocolate brown which is rare in Harlan's. Also good for
Harlan's is the extensive barring of the outer primary tips and the lack of a
"secondary bulge." The tail pattern of Harlan's Hawk is one of the most
variable plumage features of any bird. This bird's tail is within that
range of variation and would be atypical for an adult dark Western Red-tail,
which would usually be redder, less barred and lack the terminal band.
Western Red-tails also usually have rufous tips to the undertail coverts which
this bird lacks. One of the best marks for adult Harlan's, in addition to
the overall black and white color tones, is usually the presence of some white
streaking on the upper breast. This bird lacks that streaking, which is
uncommon for Harlan's, but not unheard of. On balance the features
of this bird are most consistent with Harlan's.
28 February 2009, photo by Tom RyanAll photos are copyrighted© by photographer
Submitted on 28 March 2009