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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Harlan's Hawk?

Today an unusual hawk appeared overhead while I was watching shorebirds in Bodega Harbor (on the inside of Doran Beach).  It was soaring on thermals with Turkey Vultures.  

At this point I'm leaning towards calling it a "Harlan's Hawk" — a very dark subspecies (used to be considered a full species) of Red-tailed Hawk.  There are only two records for Harlan's Hawk listed in The Birds of Sonoma County, so this is an uncommon bird in this area.  They're more common in Alaska/BC. 

Here are a few photos of this striking raptor (apologies for the lack of sharpness, the hawk was far away).  See what you think, and let me know if you have feedback about its identity!

 Possible Harlan's Hawk in lower left, Turkey Vulture in upper right (carrying food!).


Anonymous said...

great shots of that hawk in the light !! c

Anonymous said...

This is terrific. Are you going on the absence of red in the tail to distinguish from dark RTH? Carol

cricket said...


Jackie Sones said...

Hi, Cricket!

I agree -- a beautiful bird.

:) Jackie