Help With Hawk Identification

No, this isn’t a quiz – we really don’t know what species of hawk this is. This photo was taken last week near Vulcan, and the hawk was estimated to be about 20-22″ by Alan Plumb & Marg Matheson.  So far, this is one of those birding mysteries that are so challenging (and annoying) to birders…

We forwarded these pictures to Terry Koryluk for his input, and here is his reply.

A most interesting bird. I have nothing in the photos to reference the bird sizewise, but it’s probably a member of the Buteo family. Judging by the broad blackish tips to the tail feathers, it appears Rough-legged Hawkish in that respect. The plumage of this bird is a plumage that I would call not a familiar one in any of the Red-tailed, Rough-legged, or, Swainson’s Hawks that have moved through our area. The underparts and head look a great deal like those of an immature Red-shouldered Hawk, but, are probably too dark for that. If it were a Red-shouldered Hawk, it would be first for the Province. It could be a hybrid of 2 of the 3 firstly-mentioned Buteos.

We would love to hear your comments on what you think this bird this might be, and why.

5 thoughts on “Help With Hawk Identification

  1. Just a note to say this hawk was found east of Carseland close to an irrigation canal and the Bow River

  2. My brother-in-law is a big hawk guy from Wisconsin but lives in WY now. He thinks “possibly an immature Swainsons or Broadwing Hawk-both Buteos.”

  3. There is a picture in Sibley’s western field guide of a juvenile Swainson’s – Dark Morph, that bears a striking resemblance to this bird.

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