Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Belly Bands

Many of our visitors ask us how we can tell our winged ambassador red-tailed hawks apart.  One way is the different belly band markings on each bird.  Here are two examples; the first one is Bailey, and the second is one of our newer red-tailed hawks who does not have a name yet.

Bailey's belly band
New (unnamed) red-tail's belly band
New red-tailed hawk (unnamed)

Red-tailed hawks are common raptor species for many of us in our neighborhoods.  The Birds of North America Online (Cornell) tells us, "the species varies greatly across its range, with up to 16 subspecies recognized by various authorities. Races are usually distinguished by ventral coloration, tail markings, and/or size, but there is no clear geographic trend in any of these characters.

A dark belly band, present in most Red-tails, is not sufficient for species identification.  Plumage color and pattern are highly variable in some populations, and individuals may be broadly classified as light or dark morphs."

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