[Mnbird] Interesting raptor seen this morning-help needed with ID

Arjun Guneratne guneratne at macalester.edu
Wed Dec 25 20:34:47 CST 2019


Resending this, as it did not go through first time.

Hello Minnesota birders,

I need help with this ID. Any opinions on what this could be?

This morning, I was driving down Montreal Avenue through the Highland Golf
Course when my daughter spotted a large raptor perched on the ground by the
road, tearing at something. It was large, perhaps bigger than a RTHA,
mostly white with dark brown mottling on its upperparts, a red tail, and
light brown streaks on its feathered upper legs and what looked like a
mottled brown collar around its neck. See links to photos.

We stopped and I took several photographs. My first thought was that it was
a leucocistic Red-tailed Hawk but there are several points that don't fit
with that ID, including that it seemed a bit bigger and chunkier than
RTHA.  The other possibility is that it is a (possibly leucocistic)
Ferruginous Hawk —which would be amazing. Anything else it could be? See
the photos below:

1. https://flic.kr/p/2i5kod8
2. https://flic.kr/p/2i5oMaJ
3. https://flic.kr/p/2i5oNGw

RTHA is most likely candidate, and it has a red-tail

but could it be Ferruginous Hawk?
-legs aren't visible in any of my photos, but the tibia are heavily
feathered.
-there is no indication of a dark belly band (although if it is a
leucocistic RTHA, that might explain it). Might not be visible from the
angle I saw it, pretty much as in the photograph.
-bill very large relative to size of head
-my impression that it was larger than RTHA; quite a beefy looking bird.
-Hard to see the extent of the gape, but it seems to reach to below about
the midpoint of the eye
-the cere is yellow (this seems to be consistently the case with FEHA, less
so with RTHA, going by images on the web)

Here's an image of FEHA that looks something like this bird in shape:
https://twitter.com/badlandsnps/status/793612380689338369

Help with this ID would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

-- 
Arjun Guneratne
Professor of Anthropology
& Director of Asian Studies
Department of Anthropology
Macalester College
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Saint Paul, MN 55105

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*The Journal of Asian Studies*

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